When Ange Postecoglou was appointed Celtic supervisor in 2021, the Australian soccer group implored Hoops followers to buckle up for the emotional rollercoaster to return.
There can be bumps, sure, however boy, would it not ship some thrills.
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After all, Aussies had seen it first hand with Postecoglou’s famend ‘Roarcelona’ in addition to his four-year stint as Socceroos boss.
Any scepticism from the Celtic trustworthy was washed away as Postecoglou’s aspect romped residence to a Scottish Premiership title in addition to a League Cup.
But, extra importantly, the membership booked a spot within the profitable Champions League group phases for the primary time since 2017.
With expectations for his first season effectively and actually smashed past oblivion, the place would the bar be set for Postecoglou’s second season?
Well, the Australian set it himself in a rousing speech when celebrating the league title triumph at Celtic Park.
“I need everybody to get pleasure from at this time, benefit from the summer time,” Postecoglou mentioned.
“And we’ll come again greater and higher as a result of we by no means cease.”
In many respects, Postecoglou’s second act has gone precisely as he described, with the Hoops nonetheless on observe for the treble and a well-recognized Aussie face proving to be one of many signings of the season.
And though the European journey went awry, it has not deterred envious eyes from south of the border glancing upwards.
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CELTIC ‘AT THEIR BEST UNDER ANGE’ IN STUNNING SIX WIN, 25-GOAL START
With the carrot of assured Champions League soccer to supply, Celtic labored neatly in the summertime switch window.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota, two important gamers who have been with the Hoops on a short lived foundation final season, have been snapped up on everlasting offers for a mixed determine of roughly $AUD21.9 million.
German centre-back Moritz Jenz was introduced in on mortgage from FC Lorient to offer further depth on the again, whereas left-back Alexandro Bernabei and winger Sead Haksabanovic additionally joined on a full-time foundation.
But the deal that piqued the curiosity of Celtic followers and Australians was the signing of Socceroos star Aaron Mooy.
The 32-year-old moved to Celtic Park on a two-year deal after cancelling his contract with Chinese aspect Shanghai Port.
Despite a bit-part position to start his time in Glasgow, Mooy has slowly emerged as an important cog within the Celtic midfield machine and has received over the doubters together with his performances since.
Hamish Carton, writer of Never Stop: How Ange Postecoglou Brought the Fire Back to Celtic (launched on March 13), hailed the silky midfielder and ranked him as certainly one of Postecoglou’s most essential signings thus far.
“Aaron Mooy has been a whole revelation,” Carton instructed foxsports.com.au.
“This could also be controversial, however I believe arguably Ange’s finest signing at Celtic, given the expectations and the way effectively he’s carried out.”
After a sluggish begin, Aaron Mooy has discovered his toes at Celtic. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Although it took Mooy a while to search out his toes within the well-known inexperienced and white shirt, Celtic wasted no time discovering theirs to start the Scottish Premiership season.
After all, they entered the marketing campaign unbeaten of their final 32 league fixtures.
The Hoops scored 12, conceded only one and received all 4 of their opening video games to increase the streak to 36 unbeaten league video games, but it surely was the following two video games that highlighted how absurdly dominant Celtic had change into.
A visit to Dundee United, who had misplaced three of their opening 4 video games, was first.
90 minutes quickly handed and so too did 9 targets into the again of the Tangerines’ internet in an absolute mauling for Postecoglou’s aspect.
“They [Dundee United] have been struggling like mad at that stage, but it surely was Celtic at their finest below Ange,” Carton mentioned.
“Three, 4, 5, six-nil up and nonetheless in search of extra targets.”
Despite the goalfest at Tannadice, there can be no time for Celtic to face again and marvel at their work as the primary Old Firm derby was simply across the nook.
It was a Rangers aspect who, just a few months earlier than, got here agonisingly near profitable the Europa League closing.
But that very same group was sliced open with surgical precision time and time once more by a rampant Celtic outfit.
“We simply utterly battered Rangers,” Carton mentioned.
Celtic put Rangers to the sword in a 4-0 humiliation. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
“Four-nil in opposition to Rangers is the form of end result we have been getting below Brendan Rodgers when Rangers have been in an actual state.
“For Celtic below Ange to beat them four-nil, I believe it was his most spectacular end result to date on the membership.”
With all of the momentum of a thundering locomotive behind them, it shortly turned time — three days, to be exact — for Celtic’s consideration to shift as soon as once more.
But this time, it wouldn’t be for a home rival.
It can be for the defending champions of Europe.
‘PERFECT DRAW’ ENDS IN UCL DISASTER … BUT MAJOR SILVER LINING EMERGES
Although Celtic got here flying out of the gates on the home entrance, Hoops followers had one eye on the announcement of their Champions League group.
And on August 25, the Glasgow outfit discovered its destiny.
Joining them in Group F was European giants Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk, a bunch Carton described as “the proper attract some ways.”
But an ideal draw on paper did not materialise into outcomes.
Celtic did not win any of their six Champions League matches, with 4 losses and two attracts — each one-all outcomes in opposition to Shakhtar Donetsk — all they needed to present for his or her efforts.
Carton remembers “the overwhelming majority of followers felt actually, actually disillusioned after a few of the video games”, but it surely wasn’t right down to the very fact Celtic did not win.
No, it was down to simply how shut they took the video games regardless of the notable variations within the high quality of gamers.
Postecoglou received to check his tactical nous in opposition to Carlo Ancelotti. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
There was maybe no higher instance of that than the opening recreation in opposition to Madrid at Celtic Park, when Los Blancos took the three factors in a recreation the place the Hoops by no means took a backward step earlier than ultimately being overrun.
“I bear in mind watching him after the defeat to Real Madrid,” Carton mentioned.
“The finest group in Europe had ten of the 11 gamers who had overwhelmed Liverpool within the closing 100 days earlier begin in opposition to us.
“For the primary 50, 55 minutes, Celtic gave pretty much as good as they received and have been in all probability the higher group. Then they only fell away within the closing half-an-hour and misplaced 3-0.
“I bear in mind Ange strolling round after the sport and he appeared genuinely gutted at dropping a match like that.
“I believe he would really feel the frustration as effectively as a result of he desires Celtic to not simply compete at that degree, however to essentially compete and win video games at that degree.”
Although a disillusioned Postecoglou was left to select up the items after the failed Champions League marketing campaign, Carton believes the Aussie boss and the Celtic fanbase might see the silver linings from the losses.
And it serves as proof for why subsequent 12 months’s Champions League marketing campaign, ought to they qualify, will probably be even higher.
“It confirmed to me that Ange’s model can work on the prime degree,” Carton mentioned.
“In 5 out of the six matches, we have been in these matches at halftime. I believe we scored within the overwhelming majority of video games and will have scored way more.
Celtic’s European journey ended on the first hurdle. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
“There’s at all times an enormous debate about whether or not Ange will change his recreation model when he comes up in opposition to these groups. It’s clearly not going to occur, however equally it’s not a case of two methods to play by way of going all out after which having 11 males behind the ball.”
Carton additionally identified the worth in Celtic’s squad gaining essential Champions League expertise given solely a handful of them had ever performed within the group phases earlier than.
“I believe the group will probably be way more used to the extent and hopefully Ange will probably be as effectively,” Carton mentioned.
“I don’t suppose Ange was the problem, I believe the group simply wasn’t fairly prepared. But I believe we’ll see an enchancment subsequent 12 months.”
‘STICKY PATCH’ SURVIVED AS QUEST FOR ALL-TIME FEAT REMAINS ON
Although a 2-0 defeat to St Mirren on September 18 introduced an finish to Celtic’s exceptional 38-game unbeaten run, which eclipsed the 36-game streak he achieved with the Brisbane Roar, Postecoglou’s aspect has marched on and received 18 from 19 video games.
Despite the mind-boggling win charge, Carton conceded the group had considerably of a “sticky patch” by Celtic’s lofty requirements.
In the eight video games between the St Mirren loss and the start of the World Cup break, Celtic saved only one clear sheet.
The Hoops additionally needed to come from behind in opposition to Hearts to safe a vital three factors at Tynecastle.
But it’s the victories over St Johnstone and Dundee United Carton factors to as proof of why Postecoglou’s aspect are simply so good.
Celtic held a one-nil lead over St Johnstone via an own-goal earlier than the hosts thought they’d secured a draw via a 93rd-minute equaliser.
However, the Hoops would have the final snicker when Giorgos Giakoumakis, who left for Atlanta United in January, scored the winner two minutes later.
Giorgos Giakoumakis could have moved on, however he saved Celtic’s bacon in opposition to St Johnstone. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Against the Tangerines, Celtic led 2-1 however conceded within the 87th minute, a whole distinction from the nine-nil destruction earlier within the season.
But as soon as once more, Postecoglou’s mentality of by no means stopping proved key as Celtic scored twice to safe a 4-2 victory and depart Dundee United shell-shocked.
“It’s virtually as if the group was coasting at one stage, then the minute they know the result’s in a little bit of doubt, they’d flip it on and go and rating,” Carton mentioned.
“If that’s your sticky patch and also you’re nonetheless discovering a technique to win video games, you’re not doing too dangerous in any respect.
“I believe individuals speak in regards to the free-flowing soccer below Ange and the massive outcomes by way of scorelines, however I believe it generally it’s discovering a technique to win, even when issues aren’t going your means, that’s what Ange’s groups are all about.”
After the World Cup break, it’s been very a lot enterprise as regular for Celtic.
They’ve received each league recreation other than a 2-2 draw in opposition to Rangers at Ibrox, who’ve a brand new supervisor on the helm within the type of Michael Beale.
Celtic have additionally cruised within the two cup competitions and can face Hearts within the quarterfinals of the Scottish Cup whereas a salivating date with Rangers within the Scottish League Cup on Monday awaits.
Rangers boss Michael Beale will probably be out to spoil Postecoglou’s treble ambitions. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
With a nine-point lead within the league, Postecoglou’s aspect stay effectively in competition for the treble, one thing Carton believes is “virtually anticipated” these days however is aware of it “solely takes one off-day” for these aspirations to return crashing down.
Should Postecoglou pull off the feat, Carton isn’t fairly positive it might be as particular because the Hoops’ 16/17 treble season given Brendan Rodgers’ aspect didn’t lose a single recreation within the three competitions that season.
But, given Rangers’ resurgence since then, a treble this season “can be proper up there.”
And if that transpires, Premier League golf equipment will probably be falling over themselves of their efforts to prise the 57-year-old away from Glasgow.
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It’s virtually change into like clockwork: a Premier League supervisor loses their job and inside minutes the high-flying Celtic or Rangers supervisor is linked with the emptiness.
In reality, it was solely November 2021 when an Old Firm boss final moved down south as Steven Gerrard moved from Rangers to Aston Villa.
Brendan Rodgers was the final Celtic supervisor to make the identical passage, albeit the Northern Irishman left the Hoops within the lurch having moved to Leicester City in February 2019.
Postecoglou has not been secure from the tenuous hyperlinks, together with his title popping up within the dialog for vacancies at Brighton, Everton, Leeds and Wolverhampton Wanderers all through the season.
Although Carton and the overwhelming majority of the Celtic fanbase are conscious that such rumours have change into “fairly predictable at this stage”, it’s undeniably a “good factor.”
“If he wasn’t doing an excellent job with Celtic then he wouldn’t be getting linked to those jobs,” Carton mentioned.
“So I’m more than pleased with it.”
Postecoglou has been linked with various Premier League jobs this season. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Any such speak of a departure brings up two questions, the primary of which is when Postecoglou might go.
Openings emerge in the midst of the marketing campaign greater than they do throughout the low season, but Carton stays satisfied Postecoglou would maintain his legacy intact in the way in which he departs not like a sure former Celtic boss.
“When Brendan Rodgers left halfway via the season, it actually left a bitter style within the mouth of Celtic followers and he isn’t actually remembered as fondly due to that,” Carton mentioned.
“I’d hate for that to occur with Ange. I believe Ange would concentrate on that and I believe he desires to go away an excellent legacy each time he leaves the membership, and he tends to do this.”
When the time comes, Carton believes Postecoglou would bid farewell on the finish of a season, permitting Celtic loads of time to scout for his successor.
Even although there’s solely a handful of months left earlier than this season is completed and dusted, Carton holds out hope the Australian boss will stick round for a short time longer.
“Maybe I’m simply naive, however I don’t actually really feel like I’m too apprehensive and I’m not apprehensive about him leaving this summer time,” Carton mentioned.
“I believe he actually desires to attain one thing with Celtic in Europe and every little thing he’s doing has been geared in direction of that.
“I believe he’ll take us subsequent season as effectively. After that, who is aware of. That may rely upon how effectively he does subsequent season or what job comes up.”
The different huge query dominating a possible Postecoglou exit can be the situation of his subsequent group.
Gerrard and Rodgers departed to mid-table groups and had considerably different levels of success.
Brendan Rodgers has received an FA Cup with Leicester since leaving Celtic. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The former was sacked lower than a 12 months into the position whereas Rodgers has led the Foxes to 2 fifth-placed finishes and an FA Cup in 2021.
Yet Carton firmly believes Postecoglou is in line for greater and higher, boldly declaring the Aussie might succeed one of many best managers of all time.
“I want to suppose that when Ange leaves Celtic, it’s to one of many greater golf equipment in England,” Carton mentioned.
“Maybe that’s unrealistic. I believe he’d in all probability need to do one thing particular with Celtic in Europe, probably take us to the final 16 and even the quarterfinals of the Champions League, or a closing or win the Europa League, that will get the larger golf equipment down south to note.
“But I believe if he was to do this, and the way extremely he’s rated by so many within the City Football Group for instance, it would sound daft however I actually wouldn’t write off him succeeding [Pep] Guardiola down the road if he does one thing particular with us in Europe.
“I genuinely suppose he’s that good of a supervisor.
Carton added that he actually believes “Ange is on par with individuals like [Erik] Ten Hag and [Mikel] Arteta” purely primarily based on “the way in which he comes throughout and the way in which his groups play.”
“I might see him managing just about any of the massive groups,” Carton mentioned.
“I don’t suppose any of those jobs would part Ange. I actually suppose he’s going proper to the very prime of the sport and I believe Celtic are blessed to have him in the intervening time, I believe he’s simply been superb.”
There’s nonetheless a number of months left within the Scottish home season, which suggests extra time for traditional Postecoglou sound bites and resounding Celtic victories.
But it additionally means extra time for the Hoops boss to construct a bulletproof case as to why he might — or, as Celtic followers may say, will — be successful within the Premier League.
Win the treble, with victories in opposition to a resurgent Rangers aspect alongside the way in which, and the managerial whispers will flip to shouting on the prime of the lungs.
Until then, Celtic followers will proceed to benefit from the Postecoglou rollercoaster with the seatbelt firmly fixed.