So I got some emails over the past couple of days which made me shake my head in frustration, because essentially they were saying that the article I wrote on Postecoglou’s record was too long to hold their attention.
Normally I wouldn’t even entertain commentary like that, and especially on a subject so serious that it required a serious examination.
But these aren’t normal circumstances and because they aren’t normal circumstances I’m going to do something I’ve never done before; I’m going to parse what I wrote the other day and present it in a condensed version.
For anyone who hasn’t read it yet and wants to after reading this, you can do so here.
But this issue is sufficiently grave enough that I am happy to put up a simpler version for those who don’t want to slog through 2500 words. We’re about to appoint this guy, and fans should know who he is.
Agne Postecoglou has been in the game 25 years, and we’re basing this appointment, in part, on “achievements” which track back to when Fergus McCann was at Celtic.
He won his first Australian titles in 1997.
In 1999 he won the Oceanian version of the Champions League.
Which sounds impressive until you examine the calibre of teams in that tournament and that at the time Australia was the biggest country competing in it, by far.
His next domestic honours were, again, in Australia and came a decade later, in 2010.
Where was he in the meantime?
He spent a few months managing in the Greek Third division and the rest of his time running the Australian international youth teams.
So he won things in Australia, ten years apart, and the last of those honours was eleven years ago.
A record like that is, by no stretch of the imagination, remotely good enough for him to become the manager of Celtic.
But of course, there’s more.
As the international youth manager of Australia, at Under 17 and Under 20 level, he won seven honours. Which sounds impressive until you consider that Australia had a professional youth set-up and these were the countries they beat; American Samoa; Cook Islands; Fiji; Kiribati; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Niue; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tahiti; Tonga; Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
I don’t know how many of them even have a full-time youth-set up.
None of those titles was won prior to 2010, so we’re talking about accomplishments some 15 years in the past, and at a level nowhere near good enough for this gig.
So still, although it looks good on paper, there’s nothing in there in practical terms, which would make you think this guy should even be on the short-list to become Celtic boss.
His career with the Australian national team is that he arrived mid-way through the World Cup qualifying campaign in 2014, and helped them to a second place finish in a group that Japan won and was made up of those two teams, Jordan, Oman and Iraq.
His 2018 World Cup qualifying Group, where they finished third, involved a lengthy two-group run in.
They topped their first group with seven wins out of eight against Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Bangladesh. Their second group stage had bigger teams in it; they finished third in that, behind Japan and Saudi Arabia.
The other teams in that group were the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Thailand.
In the 2014 World Cup finals they went out after three games and no points, but their group was comprised of Holland, Chile and Spain. He quit before the 2018 competition kicked off.
His most impressive success as Australian boss was winning the AFC Asian Cup.
The teams who got the finals in the year he won it were as follows; Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, China and Palestine.
In the 2015 tournament they didn’t need to play qualifiers, as they were the host nation.
They drew South Korea, Oman and Kuwait in the groups, and finished second behind the Koreans. They drew China in the quarter final and won 2-0. Japan, who were holders, went out to the UAE and Australia beat them 2-0. Their most impressive result was beating South Korea in the final, after finishing behind them in the group.
The 2019 AFC Cup was won by Qatar. Make of that what you will.
Is this the record of a Celtic manager yet? If you’re still unconvinced, maybe his record in Japan will convince you. He’s on his fourth season in the J League.
He finished 12th in his first campaign.
Which makes his triumph, where he won the title, in the second season, look all the more impressive.
But if we’re considering the incredible rise it must have taken then we also have to consider the incredible fall the following year, where they actually finished ninth.
This season, he leaves them sitting in third.
I think it’s important to understand the level this guy has managed it and the quality of the teams he’s come up against.
This is a no pressure environment.
Most of these countries don’t even have football as the national sport. We are entrusting our future to a guy with a CV which looks good on paper but which doesn’t stand up to real scrutiny when you look at it.
I hope you guys now have an appreciation for why a lot of us are gravely concerned about where we are right now as a club and what our level of ambition appears to be.
We’re trusting this guy not only to lead us through European qualifiers coming up in a few short weeks but to wrestle back the title from a settled squad which didn’t lose a league game last season.
That’s the reality of this appointment, and it’s why a lot of us are scared.