A year ago today, Celtic formally appointed Ange Postecoglou as our manager.
It was a strange day for me.
I wanted to be relieved that the hunt was over and that rebuild could get underway, but I had doubts.
Boy, oh boy, I had big doubts.
I said in my opening piece that day that it should be this board’s last great gamble.
The risk was almost incomprehensible, an act of utter desperation, a long-shot punt. It is incredible how well it has turned out, but that doesn’t get this board off the hook.
I was pretty pissed off that day, but I was clear headed enough to point out that it didn’t matter what the mood in the stands and on the forums was. The only people who needed to give the manager their support, and backing, at that point was the board itself … and ultimately, he was going to stand or fall based on what they did next.
To their credit – and I mean this sincerely – they backed him to the full.
They also put in place one of the most effective PR campaigns I’ve ever seen, to properly introduce the man and his ideas to the fans.
It did not take me long to start enjoying this guy.
By the time the fan media presser on 25 June happened, most of us were sold. Absolutely sold.
By the time it ended the rest of us were.
It was a strange month up to that point, but by then the manager had spoken enough about his plans that we understood that he had big ideas, and wanted to do things in a different way than Lennon.
For me two things made that apparent; he talked about youth and how he valued our young players and wanted to bring them along, and he talked about analytics and sports science.
Those were the questions I chose to ask him, and his answers impressed me mightily.
What was even more impressive was the speed at which he started to work.
We had no idea how advanced Project Ange already was, at an early stage.
I don’t know at what point he demanded – and got – total control, but what we do know is that whatever plan existed before him, including directors of football and other such tweaks, were jettisoned the moment he rolled into Celtic Park.
Ange had a revolution in mind.
People forget how quickly the media was writing nonsense about him, and some of us was so off the wall and bizarre that I can still scarcely believe it.
Before he’d started to put the pieces into place, The Record published an incredible article – this was on 17 June, a week after he was appointed and before he was even in the country – which said he would “leave us in the lurch” and send us “back to square one” the minute an English club expressed the least interest in him.
And the nonsense only got worse from there.
In the days after the fan presser, the media was writing about how “embarrassing it was” for him and how “mortified” he would have been.
No more mortifying than having to face their ridiculous questions every week, and he quickly got sick of that.
Keith Jackson’s article on that subject was so anti-Celtic, and anti-Ange, that poison dripped off the pages.
All of this played a role in swinging the fans behind him, and although before that month was out we were just keen to seen what he would do first, I think we were pretty optimistic.
The man just came across so well, so knowledgeable and clear in his thinking that you just got a good feeling about it all. He clearly knew what he was doing, and it was obvious right away.
Still, if someone had told me one year ago today that I would be writing this, looking forward to his second season as boss, having celebrated an absolute triumph of an opening campaign, one that saw us win a league and cup double, I’d have been astounded.
If they’d told me that he would make virtually no mistakes with the rebuild, I would have said they were insane … that stuff just does not happen, and yet here we are.
I could not be happier to have been proved utterly and completely wrong.
My fears about this board remain, but my fears about the manager were not only groundless but even a little arrogant and Euro-centric. Doubts were not a crime, but to have based them on where he earned his stripes and learned his trade were clearly out of order … and I’ll cop to that.
See, this is the best tribute that I can pay this guy, that he has done for Australian football and for all those managers who have outstanding reputations in little thought of non-European countries exactly what he had hoped to.
Even we, who tried not to let that influence our thinking, were still guilty of having some pretty backward attitudes about those guys and their nations … and he is a magnificent ambassador for all of them and, I hope, a trailblazer for the bosses to come.
Happy Angeversary people.
10 June 2021 was a great day for our club.
The boss accomplished more than we ever could have imagined in the space of the last 12 months.
Not only did he give us back our joy in watching the team, but he brought us success and the promise of much, much more of it.
I cannot wait to see what the next 12 months has in store.
Think you know your CVA’s from your EBT’s? Take the Ibrox liquidation quiz below!