ANGE POSTECOGLOU crammed a lot into the month of August which included five successive wins – four away from home – a record-breaking 9-0 romp at Tannadice, a Champions League draw that paired them with holders Real Madrid plus comings and goings on the transfer front.
And he still had time to celebrate his 57th birthday on the 27th!
Unfortunately, the month got off to a sad start with the news Celtic great John ‘Yogi’ Hughes had passed away at the age of 79 following a short illness.
The personality forward, the Hoops’ eighth highest-scoring player of all-time with 189 goals, had been a regular on match day at Parkhead once his football career was over.
FAREWELL, YOGI…Celtic fans pay tribute to John ‘Yogi’ Hughes before the Premiership game against Ross County in Dingwall on August 6.
Postecoglou didn’t get the opportunity to meet the fans’ favourite, but said: “An enormous legacy, an icon and legend of this football club and what a player who loved this club.
“You represent this club and you want to achieve things and be successful, but, ultimately, we just want to be remembered for our time.
“He’s right up there as one who will always be remembered and sadly he will be missed.”
The action got underway with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Ross County in Dingwall on August 6 when the champions were forced dig deep into their resources to come back from the shock of losing an equalising goal.
Kyogo Furuhashi, last season’s top scorer with 20 strikes, got off the mark with the opening goal shortly after the turnaround, but, with only six minutes remaining, that lead was nullified when Alex Iacovetti forced in a right-wing corner-kick.
However, the visitors responded in superb fashion when Filipe Jota and Greg Taylor worked a short corner on the left before the former Benfica star whipped in a delivery which was met by new Bhoy Moritz Jenz who scored with a glancing header.
In the fading moments, it was fans’ favourite Jota again who teed up Liel Abada to curl in a third.
Postecoglou beamed: “I thought we played really well, it’s a difficult place to come to, we know that and particularly it was windy and they are a big, physical team.
HAIL, ANGE…Celtic boss Postecoglou acknowedges the acclaim of the fans after another win in August.
“But I’m really proud of the players. We stuck to our task and I thought we dominated the game in just about every aspect.
“They go up once for a corner and score, but you just have to see our reaction to know that the spirt that we had last year is still well within this group.
“Even at 2-1, we got ourselves a third, that’s the kind of team we want to be and we want to make sure that we don’t let things during the game affect what we believe in – and it gets tested at a place like this.”
A week later, there was no such drama where the title kings eased to a 5-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Carl Starfelt managed something in 11 minutes against the Ayrshire outfit which had eluded him in the previous 13 months – score a goal for Celtic.
The Swedish central defender came off the substitutes’ bench to replace the limping Jenz and thumped in the champions’ fourth goal.
Starfelt, making his 50th appearance for the team following his £4.2million arrival from Russian giants Rubin Kazan in July 2021, pounced at the far post after Killie keeper Sam Walker had stretched to push away a glancing header from Cameron Carter-Vickers.
The stopper saw his first effort blocked by the netminder, but he followed up quickly to lash the rebound into the rigging before celebrating as though he had just claimed the Champions League winner!
CARL THE FIRST…Swedish defender Starfelt scores his breakthrough goal for Celtic in the 5-0 success over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
He smiled: “It was a very fun moment to score my first goal for the club – and fun to be back on the pitch.
“It’s been a while now, I’ve been out with an injury and it’s always tough to be not able to play.
“But I’m obviously delighted to make my first minutes back and to score a goal was a bonus, as well.
“You saw from my celebration it was a relief as well, so it was nice.”
The visitors were coasting before Starfelt’s historic strike with Kyogo, Jota and Jenz netting in the first-half while Giorgos Giakoumakis sealed the triumph with an acrobatic overhead-kick for the fifth.
Only a few days later, Christopher Jullien sealed an £850,000 move to Montpellier to end his stay at the club. The towering French centre-back, who was a Hoops record fee for a defender at £7million from Toulouse in June 2019, agreed a three-year contract with the Ligue I club.
The 29-year-old centre-back, who won the treble in his first season – including scoring the only goal of the game to clinch the Betfred League Cup against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side six months after his arrival – played only 12 first-team minutes under Postecoglou following a knee injury in the 3-0 Premiership victory over Dundee United at Parkhead on December 30 2020.
GREEN FOR GO…Sead Haksabanovic is ready for his new career at Parkhead.
As Jullien headed back to France, new Bhoy Sead Haksabanovic sealed his £1.7million switch to Celtic from Rubin Kazan.
The 23-year-old Sweden-born winger admitted he was going to have a crack at following in the footsteps of his countryman Henrik Larsson at Parkhead.
Haksabanovic, who has won 28 caps for his adopted nation Montenegro, signed a five-year contract and said: “It feels amazing. What I know about Celtic is only good things and I’m very happy to be here.
“It’s an amazing club with good players, fans and history.
“I’ve been watching some games and I think the team play in the same style as me.
“I know that Henrik Larsson is a big legend here and I know his son really well.
“Hopefully, I can do something similar to him which is very hard to achieve, but I’m going to try my best.”
Postecoglou didn’t have much quality time with his family to celebrate his 57th birthday while he mulls over the Champions League draw that paired the Parkhead men with mentor Ferenc Puskas’ old team Real Madrid, who have won the silverware 14 times.
His focus, though, was on the Premiership hurdle at Tannadice 24 hours later on August 28 following their 2-0 victory over Hearts at Parkhead the previous weekend where Kyogo and Giakoumakis were the marksmen.
His players delivered the perfect belated birthday gift with a runaway 9-0 triumph over demoralised Dundee United to produce a record away Premiership victory.
Kyogo and Abada each scored hat-tricks while Jota, Josip Juranovic and Starfelt added the others.
THUMB’S UP…Ange Postecoglou in positive mode after the 9-0 triumph at Tannadice.
The perfectionist Hoops boss, though, refused to get carried away and said: “We knew that Dundee United are going through a bit of a rough patch and it was important for us to impose ourselves on the game from the beginning.
“The players did that, they worked hard and we got some quality goals at the end of it.
“It’s not about joy because, at the same time, you respect that you’ve got an opposition manager who’s going through a tough time.
“I think in this game you’ve got to stay humble and respectful.”
Twenty-four hours later, the Tayside club parted company with boss Jack Ross.
In midweek, the Greek-Australian’s team were again unstoppable as they overcame Ross County 4-1 in their second visit to Dingwall in the Premier Sports League Cup.
The Hoops boss was obviously delighted to see his team maintain their high standards against Malky Mackay’s Highlanders who were downed by strikes from captain Callum McGregor, Giakoumakis, Daizen Maeda and James Forrest.
HAT-TRICK HEROES…Liel Abada and Kyogo Furuhashi celebrate on Tayside.
There were also first-time starts for Swiss keeper Benji Siegrist, Argentinian left-back Benji Siegrist and Australian World Cup midfielder Aaron Mooy while there was a first appearance of new Bhoy Haksabanovic in the second-half along with James McCarthy.
Postecoglou smiled: “I’m really pleased with the effort. A lot of the boys were playing their first game, they’ve been training well and deserved their opportunity.
“We haven’t let our performance levels drop at all. I made nine changes which is going to be destructive to the team a little, but I still felt the boys played some really good football at a difficult venue.
“To come away with a 4-1 win is great.”
Quizzed on any late transfer activity before the forthcoming midnight deadline, the Hoops gaffer added: “Something’s happening, but I’ll be on a bus for the next few hours and find out when I get off.
“I’m sure other people will be working on it.”
August 6: Ross County 1 CELTIC 3
Kyogo, Jenz, Abada
August 14: Kilmarnock 0 CELTIC 5
Kyogo, Jota, Jenz, Starfelt, Giakoumakis
August 21: CELTIC 2 Hearts 0
August 28: Dundee United 0 CELTIC 9
Kyogo (3), Abada (3), Jota, Juranovic, Starfelt
August 31: Ross County 1 CELTIC 4
McGregor, Giakoumakis, Maeda, Forrest
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the sixteenth thrilling instalment of CQN’s EXCLUSIVE tribute to the Celtic manager.