ANGE POSTECOGLOU has maintained from his first steps inside Celtic Park that he will never waver from his principles.
The Greek-Australian, who was named as Neil Lennon’s long-term managerial successor in June last year, has fiercely and resolutely stuck to his guns as he has gone about the rebuilding of the Celtic squad with SEVENTEEN recruits in two transfer windows.
“I’ve always felt that if you go and give all of yourself and believe in something, then usually you come away having lived that experience to its fullest,” insists the Hoops gaffer.
“The gospel I try and talk to them about every day is that there is no football team in the world, or player or coach that doesn’t want to win. From our perspective, it’s about who we want to be, how we want to portray ourselves as individuals and, more importantly, as a team.
PARADISE…Ange Postecoglou in one of his first Celtic interviews.
“What kind of football team do we want to be? For some people that’s probably too grandiose and I get that, but that’s my way of coaching and what I want to create – and we talk about that to the players on a daily basis.
“That’s the exciting thing and you get involved in some special nights, hopefully, so you want to enjoy that. But I want the enjoyment to come from us believing in something – and that something for us is about the kind of football team we want to be.
“I don’t want to go there fearful or hesitant about outcomes and all those kind of things.”
Postecoglou added: “I’m not prepared to concede anything to anyone in any way shape or form with the football teams I’m in charge of.
“We’ll go there and what I do know is that the game starts 0-0 and then you’ve got 95 minutes to try to win a game of football.”
Remarkably, those defiant words were made by the Celtic boss after a mere TWELVE games in charge as he prepared for the Europa League Group G opener against Real Betis in Seville, as reported by CQN back in September.
SEVILLE SORROW…Ange Postecoglou watches as Celtic lose a two-goal lead.
BRIGHT LIGHTS…Ange Postecoglou at the completion of the 4-3 loss to Real Betis on September 16.
He was getting ready for a titanic tussle against Manuel Pellegrini’s La Liga outfit and knew he would be without the services of skipper Callum McGregor, striker Kyogo Furuhashi, Israel winger Liel Abada and Scotland internationals James Forrest and Greg Taylor.
And, despite the circumstances of players being missing through a variety of circumstances, Postecoglou still refused to compromise his ideals.
To put that into perspective, Celtic had already played six European ties – two qualifiers in the Champions League and four in the Europa League – and had won three, lost two and drawn one.
The victories came against FK Jablonec (4-2 and 3-0) and AZ Alkmaar (2-0), the defeats came against the Dutch (1-2) and FC Midtjylland (1-2) and the stalemate was against the Danes in the former Australian chief’s first competitive match in charge at Parkhead on July 20 when they lost a one-goal advantage given to them by debutant Abada, had Nir Bitton red-carded near the end of the first-half and conceded when Vasilis Barkas completely misjudged the flight of a left-wing free-kick.
The Premiership had kicked off with a 2-1 reverse against Hearts in Edinburgh and there was also a 1-0 loss at Ibrox at the end of August.
BHOYS’ OWN…Ange Postecoglou shows his appreciation of the Celtic support.
There were three successes in the other league encounters – Dundee (6-0), St Mirren (6-0) and Ross County (3-0) while there was also a Premier Sports League Cup 3-2 triumph over their Tynecastle victors only 15 days after their loss in the capital.
Twelve games, seven victories, four defeats and a draw – and the manager without a win in his first three competitive outings.
However, it speaks volumes for Postecoglou’s relentlessly ambitious outlook that he was not prepared to curb his exciting and adveturous objectives. He could have set up to frustrate Seville that evening, but, instead, sent out a team to attack away from home and underline his hopes and aims for Celtic.
It’s history now that the Parkhead side raced into a two-goal lead before slipping 4-2 behind and claiming a third to complete a thrilling encounter as 4-3 losers.
The Hoops even collapsed to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Livingston at West Lothian in the next league match, but Postecoglou point blank refused to even thinking about abandoning his goals.
SILVERWARE SUCCESS…a beaming Ange Postecoglou with the newly-won League Cup.
On December 19, Celtic won the first domestic tropy of the campaign when a double second-half salvo from the talismanic Kyogo downed Hibs 2-1 in the Premier Sports League Cup Final at Hampden and today the team sit on top of the Premiership by three points with 11 matches to go.
There is also a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Dundee United at Tannadice to be met and conquered next month.
Today, the manager is getting his players ready for Thursday evening’s Europa Conference League second leg tie against Bodo/Glimt in the Arctic Circle, the club facing an uphill battle after a 3-1 reverse in the east end of Glasgow last week.
It’s possible Celtic might not turn the game around, but we all know they will give it their best shot.
Ange Postecoglou wouldn’t have it any other way.