Ange Postecoglou, if he cared at all, would have known that his comments over the weekend would generate headlines.
There are plenty of occasions on which his words have been spun or twisted or even completely misrepresented. This weekend, they were reported exactly as he uttered them and in the correct context.
Still, they were over-egged.
Andy Walker listened to them and pronounced on them.
Ange had once again refuted the very idea that he is some lucky manager, and slammed The Mooch for his atrocious remarks. Walker thinks that this shows that Ange was “riled” by the Ibrox boss.
How can someone have heard every word Ange has said, every word that has come out of his mouth, and not understand him at all?
Ange was not riled. He said so. “It didn’t annoy me” were virtually the first words out of his mouth.
“But I think people use that kind of language deliberately,” he said.
What Ange is saying is that the comment was meant to rile him.
But it did not.
He is telling The Mooch “I’m onto you mate, I have your number.”
“I would never use that language about somebody in my position,” Ange said, because this stuff is important to note.
“I’m not sure which bit is ‘lucky’. I think Michael at the time was referring to the fact I had money to spend but I didn’t get to this position out of luck. I’ve worked 25 years of coaching to be entrusted at a club like this. This isn’t my first job. If it was my first job maybe I’d be lucky but it’s not, it’s 25 years of hard work.”
That’s the key to understanding our manager.
He has a fierce sense of pride in what he has achieved, and it’s not just that he will defend his own record but he has stood up for other managers. Frankly, it amazes me how, in a business where so many bosses are being fired every day, that any coach with an ounce of respect for others would ever say what The Mooch has here.
But there’s another thing, and Walker should recognise this and understand that the Ibrox boss was not the only person Ange was talking about.
“I don’t think any part of my job is easy, I don’t think any part of my job is lucky. I don’t think any part of any manager’s job in whatever sort of environment they are working in is one where you can use those terms,” Ange said. “Any manager in any position knows, irrespective of the circumstances, that it’s hard work. You’ve got to be totally dedicated.”
“You’ve got to always try to make the best decisions that you are asked to make every day. To dismiss this as something that should just happen naturally, because of who we are as a club, disregards so many factors that come into what it takes to be successful.”
That, more than anything, is what Ange wants to get across.
It’s a complete rebuttal of the idea that being manager of Celtic guarantees that you will be successful and that idea hasn’t just come from the guy across the city but from a lot of ignorant dolts in Walker’s own industry.
We all know that success at Celtic is not automatic. We all know that had Ange not been so good a motivator, a leader and a talent spotter that we would be in a very different place right now.
Yes, he’s had money, but as the man himself points out, it’s not about having it but about how you use it.
When you consider, for example, what Ibrox paid for Ryan Kent and that for the same money they could have got Abada and Maeda both you see where the difference lies.
On the blog last night, I wrote about the January transfer window of last year.
I would think, looking at that window, that they probably spent more money in it than we did … but whereas we got Maeda, Hatate and O’Riley for ours they squandered theirs utterly on tawdry goods.
They do it every year.
Their list of failures is the proof of how easy it is to get this stuff wrong, and we have our own horror shows which you can look back on. Consider, for example, the last year of signings under Neil Lennon and you’ll see how we’ve sometimes not been the best custodians of our money.
The difference is, we are sufficiently strong that those occasional bad bits of transfer business don’t become millstones around our neck.
If the decision making at Ibrox isn’t great this summer they will be haunted by it for years, especially as they are shopping in a market where players are on huge salaries. They might prove to be the best example of how having money doesn’t guarantee success.
If Ange is riled at all – which he isn’t, he’s a Stoic, as I’ve written over and over again – it’s at the way in which this narrative, partly driven by some in the media, refuses even now to give him credit for the astounding job he has done.
The idea that Celtic is a soft seat without pressure is crazy when you consider people like Walker who have made careers turning every minor setback suffered by a Celtic boss into an epochal crisis.
This is the toughest job in the Scottish game, because everyone wants to beat you and everyone’s waiting for you to slip.
Walker listens … but he just doesn’t get it.
Ange was talking about him too.