Ange’s influence on this team can be seen in many ways.
But I think the real proof of how good a manager he is has been found in the players he has improved.
Clearly, he arrived well aware of what the Japanese could do, but his signings outside of the country where he last managed have been exceptional and it is also obvious that he has made better those who were here.
The players I’m thinking of, in particular, are Greg Taylor and Anthony Ralston, who have been transformed under this manager into the kind of players we never thought they would be.
These guys have learned so much from him that it’s beyond remarkable.
Part of it, I think, is the change in style.
They’ve never been asked to use their skillsets in the way they are at present before, and that has come through amazingly. But it’s more than that. There is a maturity about these guys, a confidence, that has not been there before.
The manager has imparted his belief in them to the players and they have responded, I think, by believing in themselves. We have seen our forwards go through crises of confidence this season, but not the full-backs.
They have simply powered through.
They are the real triumph of Ange Postecoglou, and they are the real problem for Van Bronckhorst. Who amongst their side has improved under he and his cadre of Dutch coaches?
Where is the player who has come on such leaps and bounds under his management?
Their fans see the way this team of ours plays. They know there are big problems in the way they are run. Too many key players get injured easily, and for long spells. Too few of their transfers seem to have worked out.
But more than that, they recognise regression when they see it. Some of them wonder if their scouting system has failed them … more wonder if it’s just Van Bronckhorst who can’t seem to get the best out of what he’s got.
I think it’s a bit of both. I don’t believe Ross Wilson deserves much credit for the signings, but Van Bronckhorst manages their squad terribly. Their fans wonder too if Ange’s strike rate in the transfer market is as impressive as it seems, or if he’s just better at squeezing every bit of talent out of the players in his charge than their gaffer is.
I think it’s a bit of both. Ange clearly has a good eye, but it’s how he uses players that has made the difference. He isn’t throwing square pegs into round holes here.
You will never get a Patryk Klimala here, a player who does not fit perfectly into the system he’s devised.
That was a deal I could never work out, and nor could the coaches based on what John Kennedy once said about him. That doesn’t happen at Celtic now, and we’re better off for it.
Ange Postecoglou is not the reason Van Bronckhorst is struggling; the hapless Ibrox boss is managing to screw things up all by himself. But there is some truth to the idea that when one boss in Glasgow is up then the other is down, and Ange runs the table right now.
But I think even a lesser Celtic boss would have enough about him to see off the Dutchman, who really doesn’t come across as an impressive figure. When he moved in to Ibrox they all kidded themselves on that they would soon be watching something like Total Football; amongst the many things their fans don’t understand is why he’s not signed a single player from his native land to assist in that question. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he can’t.
No, Ange isn’t the problem here but the contrast is killing the Ibrox boss.
There is no longer the least doubt across the city that we have here a formidable man. They watch Greg Taylor and they watch Anthony Ralston and they ask where their own equivalent success stories are.
They watch as Ange signs wingers who hit the ground running and then they look at their own imagined superstar, Kent, who hasn’t produced in a big game for a long, long time.
The brighter Ange’s star shines, the duller the man at Ibrox looks. The more improved our players are, the more their fans look at their own fading talents and wonder what in God’s name is going on. Ange is not a magician, it is not magic he is weaving and therefore it stands to reason that he’s just better at all this stuff than his rival is.
Greg Taylor spoke to the press today and everything he said was based on our focus and determination to move from one game to the next, to, as he put it, “treat Livingston like Real Madrid.” Respect for the opposition.
This is just one facet of the change in this young man.
Not only does he look like a player, but he sounds like an ambassador and a leader. That is the Ange Effect and better managers than the one across the city would struggle to rise in his shadow.