As this blog thought he might, Ange Postecoglou went on the offensive yesterday on the subject of the Australian midfielder who will shortly sign for Middlesbrough. I expected nothing less.
His policy from the start has been clear; he wants people committed to the cause.
Right from Ange’s earliest moments in charge, that was obvious. Every player was given a chance, even some of the want-away stars. Only one never got a look-in, Kris Ajer. Why? I suspect it’s because we were disrespected in that case and the manager never felt that the Norwegian was going to give us his all.
That’s the deal-breaker for this boss.
At his fan press conference, when The Celtic Star asked him the first question, he ended his answer by giving a promise to the fans that he would fight for the club no matter who that fight was against, and he has meant every word of it and held true to it all the way.
Yesterday, sitting in front of the media, the inevitable question about McGree came, and Ange was as ready for it as if he’d rehearsed the moment the night before. (I’m sure he didn’t.)
Not only did he shrug it off as something of little consequence, but he then went on the attack, and I beamed with pleasure reading his comments last night.
“It wasn’t really anything too drastic for us, It was just a discussion with a player I know well and for me it was an interesting proposition … He moves on and we move on. It’s an indication for me this isn’t the right place for him … I only want players who want to be here. I won’t try to convince any player to come and sign for this football club … if they can’t see the opportunities that exist here then that’s part of the deal for me … it’s an easy decision … I’m not going to sell this club to anyone on its attributes or virtues. If they can’t understand that in the first place, then they’re probably not worth talking to from my perspective.”
Ouch! That’s about as hard a slap as I’ve heard a Celtic boss deliver in a long time.
And of course, he’s right. Anyone who doesn’t see the merits of Celtic, and sees only “English football” and the money isn’t someone who we want here at Parkhead.
Imagine having to go to someone and actually try to convince them that Celtic is a better bet than a mid-table Championship side.
Why should we? Why would we? This manager will not.
On top of that, he confirmed what I had suspected from the moment the story broke; Celtic heard that Borough had come in, made him and offer and that it was higher than ours and neither the club nor Ange himself saw any merit in upping ours.
We offered what the player was worth, by our metric, and weren’t going to go a penny higher.
“It’s not just one party who decided not to go ahead. We decided not to go ahead as well. Because for me what’s most important is they want to come here,” he said.
Our club had the option of upping our offers both to his club and to the player himself, but the moment Ange realised he was more interested in talking to Middlesbrough for whatever reasons were his, all interest in the deal on Celtic’s side died completely.
And that’s as it should be. Ange has stated the policy as clearly as he could.
Those who want to be here are the only ones who will be. We don’t go begging some lower league footballer to come to Celtic Park. It says more about the player than about our club.