FORMER Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has hailed the “fantastic” job Ange Postecoglou has done at with the team since his June arrival.
The Greek-Australian gaffer took over a club in turmoil after a wretched campaign that saw them limp in without a trophy for the first time 11 years.
The Parkhead men were on the brink of history and a tenth successive title as they went into the season, but the bid for glory had been obliterated by the end of January and Neil Lennon paid for the failure the following month when he departed.
John Kennedy took over in a caretaker capacity for the remaining 10 matches of a wretched term – including a league and Cup losses at Ibrox – and the club spent three wasteful months trying to persuade Eddie Howe to take charge.
Peter Lawwell moved in to arrange negotiations with Postecoglou, at that point head coach at J-League club Yokohama F Marinos, to become Lennon’s long-term successor and the deal was sealed on June 10 – just 20 days before he left his role as chief executive he had held for 18 mainly successful years.
And the new man has hit the ground running with 17 recruits over two transfer windows that has seen the Premier Sports League Cup already captured and the team aiming to go six points ahead at Ibrox on Sunday in the quest for the Premiership crown with only six games to play.
Rodgers, who won seven honours in Glasgow in his two and a half years after arriving in May 2016, enthused: “Celtic have been brilliant.
“For me, Ange has done a fantastic job there. A lot of new players have come in along with the guys from my time there: Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Nir Bitton.
“They’ve played some terrific football, they’ve got themselves into a great position and whatever happens at the end of Sunday, they’ll still be top and in a really good position.
“But Ibrox is a great place to go and play with the atmosphere. To win there with Celtic is obviously special, as a player or a manager, and they’ll go on and play with no fear and will go on to win the game.”
With just 700 visiting fans allowed in the stadium for the midday kick-off, Rodgers, speaking to Sky Sports News, added: “The uniqueness of Celtic and Rangers is the supporters.
“To feel a game as Celtic manager against Rangers is such a special occasion. I virtually remember all the games as Celtic manager against Rangers and they’re such tense games.
“I just hope that, going forward, the two teams can get the allocation back because that’s what truly makes it: the spectacle around the world. They’re still great games – I watched the last game which Celtic won 3-0 and they played fantastically well at Celtic Park and the atmosphere was amazing.
“But I think that extra bit comes when you have that 7,000, 8,000 supporters that travel as well because that really brings the atmosphere up a little bit more as well.
“Hopefully, they can get back to those numbers again, but in the meantime – home or away – they’re incredible games to be involved in and if you can win, they’re extra special.”