Two men are responsible for that; Ange Postecoglou and Kyogo Furuhashi. Indeed, you could argue that only one them – the manager himself – was responsible for it as if he hadn’t heard of Kyogo or didn’t know about him we would never have signed the player.
But cup finals are days for big talents and big characters and Kyogo, although one of the smallest men on the pitch, towered above everyone on it as Ange towered over everyone off of it. His two moments of magic, of genius, decided this one. Without him who knows how differently the day might have gone, but with him there was simply no doubt.
The usual voices are raised in their wee moans tonight; nobody at Celtic is in the least bit surprised at that, and I won’t even write about it tonight. This belongs to the two men who made it happen, and without disrespecting any of the other players who played a role in this today it was Ange and his Japanese Bhoy, who wasn’t even 100% fit but ran the show.
Six months and a single transfer window into his tenure, and Ange has his first trophy as Celtic boss. That is extraordinary, and would be extraordinary even if he hadn’t inherited a total shambles, as he did. But having done so, the speed at which he has cleaned up the mess is hugely impressive. No-one could have seen this coming when he was hired.
The players love him; you could tell that in the after-match interviews. They speak of him with such respect and affection, and yet this is a man who by his own admission keeps a certain distance from this for days exactly like this, days when he has to tell someone like Tony Ralston that they aren’t in the starting eleven. He has them committed and hungry.
None more so than Kyogo, who battled to get fit, as evidenced in Nir Bitton’s open disbelief at the little man’s character and spirit. It was his talent, without peer in this country, which shone through today though in both of those goals, the first a moment of classic awareness from a player who is head and shoulders more switched on than anyone in the country.
The second was so superb that it conjured up immediate memories of Larsson in his pomp; he scored a better chipped goal at Hampden, against Rangers, but then I’ve always rated that as his finest goal in a Celtic shirt, for the sheer artistry of it.
Kyogo’s today was more akin to Larsson’s 6-2 chip, beating the keeper with an outrageous lob after leaving the defence flat-footed and for dead.
It takes a major talent to do something like that in the pressure environment of a cup final. I found out today that it’s his third win in one, and that second of his was the third time he’s scored in one too. That speaks volumes for his character.
These two men are leading our team to something very special. Between Ange’s leadership off the pitch and Kyogo’s immense talent on it, we are marching towards our goals. I believe that this is the start of something amazing.
Looking at those two today, only a fool (or a hack) would even doubt it.