As Another Day Slips Away, How Long Will Celtic Pretend This Is Normal?

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Agne Postecoglou took another game today.

I’m sure that’s his third since we opened “advanced negotiations” with him what seems like an eternity ago now. On Friday it will be a fortnight. A fortnight to get a manager from the J-League.

Video footage appears to show him saying goodbye to the home fans.

Some of them won’t be sorry to see the back of him.

As I sit down to write this, they’ve just lost an Emperors Cup tie against a fourth division team who took them to penalty kicks.

We hear a lot about this guy’s positive record.

I don’t know how you’d spin a defeat in a game like this, but a lot of people are lining up to try.

Some are comparing it to cup defeats we’ve suffered, as thought that is of any relevance to this at all.

Some are excusing the mental results the Emperors Cup throws up at times.

Every cup competition does that.

Some are saying we should ignore the result because of the team he put out.

This is already starting to sound an awful lot like the people who told me that we couldn’t consider Lennon’s time at Bolton because “Bolton were a shambles.”

When we’re not considering a manager’s record in judging how we think he’ll do at our club then what exactly are we considering?

How he sounds on a podcast, I suppose.

A lot of people seem to have been sold by that, and others by a documentary.

My own views are well known. We’re watching the collapse of next season already, in everything from the lunacy of the appointment itself to the time it’s taking.

Way back in my personal age of innocence, when I still thought this board was comprised of men who knew what they were doing – which would have been near the start of the last campaign when Lennon started to flounder – I wrote that these were men who would rather die than look weak or stupid or unprofessional. I was sure of that.

But one disaster after another has dissuaded me from that view, a view I now realise to have been hopelessly optimistic and overly generous.

The first warning alarms began to blare when they didn’t sack Lennon the night of the Sparta Prague game at Celtic Park. It was obvious to all what needed to be done, and they failed to do it.

As that season started to slip fully away from us my initial surprise turned to shock; did these men not care about their legacies? Their reputations? Did they not care what kind of image they presented to the world about our club and everyone in it?

And I realised at that point that they either didn’t care or they just didn’t know how to fix things.

They could have sacked Lennon earlier than they did, but that would have meant having to replace him mid-season and since there was no easy-to-grab warm body in the vicinity this time they balked. By the time February came around it was too late to matter.

We’re more than 100 days later and the messing about continues. Postecoglou takes another game for his Japanese club as we continue to wait. It’s not as if there aren’t things that need to be done, and priorities to get in order … it’s just that nobody at Celtic Park seems to understand that time is a factor here. Either that, or they just don’t care that it is.

Every day that goes by increases the number of questions; take today’s shattering result for his team in the cup. When you leave things on a long enough timeline you’re going to get stories like this – perhaps not as stunning, but stories like this.

The other day I wrote about how we have a “verbal agreement” with the guy … as if Eddie Howe never happened, as if we don’t know they aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on. I’d like to think that today we’re considered whether to formalise it, but I have a bad feeling this board is too far down the line to admit that it’s got this wrong, that it panicked and hired the first person whose name was suggested to them after the Howe deal went sideways.

But a fortnight on from that, all “advanced negotiations” have got us are more questions, more doubts and more time pissed against the wall.

Am I the only person who’s started to wonder if this is malicious? If this is an act of spite against the supporters? When you listen to the Jeanette Findlay and David Low podcast you realise that there are people at our club who are perfectly capable of such absurd pettiness. To be honest, you can only argue that they are incompetent for so long before you start wondering if something that looks this much like deliberate sabotage can be anything else.

I used to dismiss talk like that as the worst kind of paranoia. But even I’ve started to wonder just how crazy it really is.

Watching this, I can’t help thinking it’s like a cross between Sunderland Til I Die and The Office; David Brent; Football CEO. And you thought Martin Bain was ridiculous, eah?

He knew, at least, that hiring Postecoglou was an impossible sell. I don’t think he’d have taken this long about it if he’d actually decided to go for it either.

Right now, we’re lurching from one disaster to another and I still don’t think a lot of people have a complete appreciation for just how big a mistake this could be..

I mean I guess I could be reading more into the fact that he’s won a league over there sandwiched between finishing 12th and finishing 9th. I could be putting too much emphasis on a 50% win ratio. I could be judging him too harshly on the basis of a defeat from a fourth tier team in the cup. Maybe I haven’t watched enough of his videos or listened to enough of his podcasts. I could be mistaken about all of this, hopelessly out of my depth and not understanding a thing.

But I’m still betting that the whole of European football orthodoxy is correct. I’m still betting on the collective wisdom of every other club on the continent, great or small, all of whom have taken a pass on this guy regardless of how he comes across on YouTube.

Cause the alternative is betting that our board knows better than all of them.

Be honest; what’s your money really on?

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