ANGE POSTECOGLOU admits it’s success or bust as Celtic manager.
The Greek-Australian gaffer acknowledges he MUST bring silverware to Parkhead even while rebuilding the squad.
Neil Lennon departed the club in February only two days after an unacceptable 1-0 loss to Ross County in Dingwall as the Hoops’ wretched season went into freefall.
It was evident changes were urgently required on and off the field as the club stumbled through a disastrous campaign that saw their hopes of a historic tenth successive title obliterated shortly after the turn of the year.
Dismissed from the League Cup by the same Highlanders in Glasgow and knocked out of the Scottish Cup at Ibrox, Europe was largely an embarrassment as the club collapsed to their first trophyless term in 11 years.
THE MAN WITH A PLAN…Ange Postecoglou in reflective mood during a break in training at Lennoxtown.
Postecoglou accepted the gauntlet to restore the team to former glories and the former Australian international head coach has gone about his task with a refreshing verve and gusto.
Twelve players were brought in during a hectic summer with the club raiding countries such as Japan, Russia, Portugal, Israel and England for fresh talents while the likes of iconic skipper Scott Brown, Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham headed for the exit.
Tantalisingly, the first domestic trophy of the campaign is up for grabs a fortnight when Celtic take on Hibs in the Premier Sports League Cup Final at Hampden and the new team chief has the opportunity to get his hands on his first honour in Scotland six months after his arrival.
CUP FINAL HERE WE COME…Kyogo Furuhashi congratulates James Forrest on his Premier Sports League Cup semi-final winner against St Johnstone.
Postecoglou admitted: “You take on the role of manager of this football club and you’re not going to be given three years to win a trophy.
“You’ve got to do that as soon as you arrive and at the same time as building.
“For us, the challenge this year is we didn’t inherit a settled squad, it was a squad that needed rebuilding for a number of reasons. It’s not like we just went out and brought in players to complement what we had.”
After a last-minute opening-day Premiership defeat at Hearts, the team also dropped points in losses at Ibrox and Livingston while they have been held at home by Dundee United, tomorrow’s opponents on Tayside, and Livingston when Giorgos Giakoumakis squandered a stoppage-time penalty-kick.
The Hoops are four points off the pace in the pursuit of their tenth title in eleven years and the manager acknowledged he still has much work to do.
He said: “We won’t be able to have the squad I think we need, to have the quality to play consistently the high levels I want, until we get into another year of football.
HAIR-RAISING…Kyogo Furushahi races away after his matchwinner against Hearts.
“That’s all in the background. What we need to do is make sure we keep improving our football in the meantime and giving opportunities for the guys we have to develop.”
The manager felt his players showed character, true grit and resilience as they dug out a 1-0 win over Hearts at Parkhead on Thursday night when Kyogo Furuhashi claimed his 14th goal of the season.
Anthony Ralston, Filipe Jota and Stephen Welsh all limped off with a variety of injuries during the 90 minutes-plus against the Edinburgh outfit which disrupted the boss’ game plans.
And with nine more matches to play until the winter break kicks in on January 2 after the visit of Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Co to the east end of Glasgow, the impressive team chief will have to keep digging deep to continue on their current path.
Postecoglou, speaking to Sky Sports News, added: “It’s important, especially the way we want to play our football.
“It’s very hard to keep energy levels that high all the time for 90 minutes.
GURN AND BEAR IT…Ange Postecoglou discusses the 1-0 victory over Hearts at Parkhead.
“In the context of a game, when a team is 1-0 down, they are going to take more risks and throw more bodies forward. Just naturally you are going to have to defend a little bit more.
“But I thought some of our football on Thursday was outstanding. I know what the headlines will be, but I watch football differently, I look at what’s actually happening, not just the outcome.”
Celtic’s quest for points will continue against Dundee United at Tannadice tomorrow with the High Noon showdown with the team that escaped from Glasgow with a 1-1 draw in September.
The fates conspired against Celtic that afternoon when David Turnbull, Tom Rogic and Jota struck the woodwork and Albia Ajeti contrived one of the misses of the season with a shot over the bar from six yards with just the keeper to beat.
Let’s hope Big Ange and his Bhoys have better fortune on this occasion.