I find myself watching every interview Ange does these days, and it doesn’t matter to me who the interview is with. It was a pleasure watching his latest one with Open Goal, and I found a lot of what he had to say extremely interesting and illuminating.
Take his statement about wanting players to appreciate their special status and the things they have in their lives. He nailed it. It is such a profoundly decent outlook. He hates to see any footballer mope around unhappy when they should be grateful to have a job they love and which pays well in a world where most people are doing hard graft.
This speaks volumes about who our manager is, the manner of man that he is, and the way he views the world. He is most definitely “one of us”. He gets the important stuff.
But I was fascinated most by his comments about how he viewed the challenge of coming to Celtic. At the start of the season a lot of Celtic fans had settled into a place where they thought this would all be about the transition, that Ange would need at least a season to get his ideas across and that simply seeing forward progress would be enough.
A lot of us disagreed. I remember being on the Endless Celts podcast where Anthony Dunn and I were in complete agreement that a title “challenge” was not what Celtic should be looking for, but a title win instead. Nothing else, we argued, would do.
Well it turns out that Ange was much closer to that thinking than to the idea of laying down a solid foundation before trying to win things. For the boss, it was never going to be acceptable to “challenge.”
He spoke about the size of this club and the heavy responsibility that sits on the shoulders of any manager, and it was here that he had my most rapt attention.
“I couldn’t go being manager of this football club for a season without winning something,” he said. “We had that season last year, and that was it for this football club. This football club needs to be winning trophies every year, that’s the expectation. I didn’t want to be come in saying ‘well, it’s going to take me a bit of time …”
And so speaks a genuine winner, a man who was not only expecting success in this campaign but who demanded it both from himself and his team.
Anyone who thinks that we somehow lack the mentality to see this through has not listened to this guy properly.
He has instilled that attitude in this team and they are ready not only to meet, but to exceed, even the wildest of our hopes for this campaign.
None of us predicted a treble opportunity, and if this guy can see us over that line it will be a momentous achievement … but one in line with the demands he made.