Last Night’s Revelations Have Cast The Celtic Manager In An Entirely New Light.

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Ange Postecoglou sat in front of the media on Thursday last week and said that he was focussed on nothing but the game on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon he told the fans and the media that he was going to take some time to enjoy the occasion and would be focussed on his family and friends. Amazing that this man has such focus.

Because according to reports today – and I firmly believe this is the first strategic leak out of Celtic on this issue – he told Dermot Desmond and the board on Saturday night that he wanted to go to Spurs. When I got up this morning, they had the broad outlines of his contract in the reports; two years with an option for a third.

So the deal was done. Everything but the signature on a piece of paper.

So whilst that man was invoking Tommy Burns his bags were already packed.

The question arises as to whether you believe the strategic leak, and I certainly do because not a single piece does not fit perfectly into the picture we can see emerging here.

Ange Postecoglou refused to commit to next season at Celtic.

Every newspaper in England was running the story that he’s going to London.

Yet, officially, Spurs hadn’t made an approach yet. We all know that’s a steaming pile of bullshit, because you do not crawl out on the limb and start sawing it merrily behind you unless you know the safety net is there.

This wasn’t a guy finding out he’d made the final shortlist and deciding to chance it, and I wrote that yesterday. The London press says this is a done deal and they are closer to the action with better sources than Jackson and this ragbag mob up here.

Signing a manager to a club is a complicated business. Even if you like the cut of their jib, negotiations aren’t done in a day or a weekend.

If he signs a contract at Spurs today or tomorrow, as is now virtually certain, the wheels had to be in motion before Saturday and so the implications of his informing the board on Saturday night are, of course, enormous as a result of that.

Our manager has been tapped, and he’s gone along with it.

For how long? Days? Weeks? We’ll never know that. But what we can be absolutey certain of is that Spurs “official approach” story is a despicable fraud, and I truly and sincerely hope that Celtic issues a robust response to that.

Their conduct here has been abysmal, but then so has the conduct of Ange Postecoglou.

How can you tell the board you want to go to a club which is yet to formally offer you the job? And how is it possible to make that decision in a single evening, during a party, with all the blanks filled in for you so you know there are no surprises waiting?

The logical answer is that you can’t. That’s not how it works. Daniel Levy has burned through a half dozen negotiations already and if you’re just another candidate then telling your current boss that you want to go down and work for him when he’s not made you an offer is an act of utter folly, and Ange Postecoglou, as we all know, is not a stupid man.

He’d have had to have known the scope of the offer.

He’d have had to have known that the terms were acceptable.

So serious talks have taken place already, way before the game, and our club was a secondary consideration, and so, by implication, was the treble bid because had we not been playing Inverness in the final it’s abundantly clear that the split focus of the manager would have imperilled us, and that is only multiplied if he’d already discussed this with his coaching staff.

If he takes the backroom team with him then that’s as close to the Brendan Rodgers scenario as you can get; those who say what Rodgers did was worse because he did it mid-season should be grateful, as we all should, that Spurs never put this to the test whilst we still had trophies to win because none of us knows what the manager would have done in those circumstances, except in one crucial respect; he left Yokohama for Celtic in exactly that fashion.

We have been royally grafted here, and in some ways this is even more egregious than the Rodgers escapade because although he left us with all the issues still up in the air and without even a coaching staff, few inside Celtic Park were surprised at the development.

That had been telegraphed so far in advance, in private and in public, that the shock of it was only about the timing and not the fact of it.

It’s the fact of this, not the timing, that is truly abominable.

Because yeah, this season’s business was done, but for the first time in my living memory our club has been one step ahead and planning in advance and all those plans are in ruins. The summer was just about sorted. The transfer business in and out was agreed on. The trip to Japan is set in stone, and he was to be the centrepiece of that.

Worse, by far, the season ticket campaign – laughably titled “We’re All In” was fronted by the manager and that is one of the reasons those tickets sold out in record time.

We are all entitled to be pissed off about those things, but inside the club?

People must be absolutely livid.

In normal circumstances I would say that issues that happened in our house would stay behind closed doors; I’m not so sure that will happen here.

There are too many things about this that frankly stink to high heaven. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if we don’t make an official complaint against Spurs for what is so blatantly an illegal approach, and I wonder if the club’s public response to this will be to issue a statement outlining their understanding of these events.

The people running our club aren’t daft, and they aren’t going to tolerate being taken for absolute mugs or Celtic being treated like this. They know that the on-the-record version of how this has all gone down is not worth a damn.

This morning’s stories are surely only the first step towards our getting a fuller accounting of this into the public domain.

The only thing that could prevent that is that those inside Celtic might see the principal task as repairing the damage that’s been done and getting on with that instead.

In many ways I hope that’s what comes about.

We learned something here.

The next manager of this club must not be of the badge kissing variety. We have to view this the way we view signing players from now on; we’re not hiring messiah’s, we’re hiring mercenaries … and if the shelf life of a Celtic manager is now to be two or three years, then so be it … just so long as they are successful ones.

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  • Bhoy4life says:

    We as a support are proving to be every bit as paranoid as the clowns across the city.
    It doesn’t matter how its been done.
    He hasn’t done a BR moonlight flit, he’s seen it through and delivered.
    Ange, like every other mgr or player who goes thru this club, moves for the money, plain and simple, but also the challenge to play at a higher level week in week out.
    Visits to County and Dundee soon become tiresome I’d imagine, as will the constant biased bitching from the media.
    I wish him nothing but success, and bear him no ill whatsoever, however he has gone about his business he has kept it oit of the papers, with good reason too, sticking it right to the very people who were not and never wud hv been his friends.
    Thank you Ange.

  • Terry Thomas says:

    Good luck to Ange, he has done great for Celtic. We should now look to get someone in quickly. I would like to see Kjetil Kuntsen or Enzo Maresca get the role.

  • Mark B says:

    I said in an earlier comment his departure was no better than Rodgers. It is now seemingly so. Very disappointed he would be so selfish… use the word he used in a BBC interview. When you leave somewhere you leave with grace. There was plenty of time this week and next to talk to Spurs. His interview last couple of weeks have all been “I am focussed” I genuinely had the sense he was not being straight in any of those interviews. Such a shame. Its modern football, its why the game is not what it used to be. Words are easy, integrity of action is MUCH harder. Burns, McGrain, McStay, McNeil, Stein, Lennox even Larsson who left with grace.. They are all true Celtic men and men of honour. Larsson showed how to leave a place you truly love. Sorry Ange but double talk and email messages thanking us doesnt cut it.

  • Dando says:

    Brilliant piece James, I’d be fine wae BR returning if he admitted his timing (when he left) was a huge mistake and apologises…..

    We move on and keep strong as there is greater achievements to be met with this team….


  • Tam57 says:

    Absolutely spot on, another rat

    • .Joe Winnie says:

      I took Ange to have more integrity than what he is currently displaying. Disappointed.

  • John Copeland says:

    The governing bodies of Scottish football have treated Celtic FC as mugs for decades and our boards have said zilch whilst sitting on their hands … Right up to the present day ! What makes you think that if Tottenham Hotspur have tapped our manager that our current board would formally make a complaint about another rich , powerful club from another country ? No, they shall take whatever compensation is due and stay silent… Once again !

  • Brian Traynor says:

    Well written article says what a lot of us are feeling

  • Zeddy says:

    There are huge lessons again here for Celtic.

    As Ange himself said, he never falls in love with a player. They/we should never fall in love with a manager Neil Lennon/Brendan for feck sake.

    Of course they are in it for the money I don’t understand that people can be in anyway shocked by that.

    We should be delighted that Celtic can attract these high end performers because the last time we failed to do that we threw away 10 in a row.

    But these guys come at a cost, potentially att both ends of the deal. Why is that a surprise to anyone.

    Celtic fell in love with the Ange dream and the commercial possibilities at the other side of the worldl. If they have any sense they’ll tie Spurs to coming on the tour as part of the release compensation package.

    I hope the search for strong successful managers continues.

    • Terry Thomas says:

      All the rumours have started, Ange asked the board to back him financially for Europe with 20-25 million for players to improve the team to compete to get out of the group stages. I don’t know if this is true, but he did want to do better in Europe

    • Martin.H says:

      Could explain dip in form over the last few weeks, players obviously knew something, the only positive it looks like he’s taking Kennedy and Strachan with him. Rodgers could be coming back not got a problem with that, he’s got just a few tweets to make.

  • paul obrien says:

    If our board were confident to give Ange the job in the first place why wasn’t he on a long contract to ensure proper comp was paid in case of such approaches or was he just a shot in the dark after all

    • James Forrest says:

      Of course he was a shot in the dark. I’ve been writing that since he was hired, there was no great genius in this appointment, it was a stroke of unbelievable luck by a board that was desperate to change the story from Eddie Howe. The one sensible thing we did was only give the guy a one year rolling deal. But we’ve been trying to get him to sign a new one for a while, and failed. We ought to be far down the road here towards an appointment. I hope to God we are.

      • Michael Collins says:

        100% correct James, may I say though, as far as a new manager is concerned, it depends on what we are looking for, is it improving in Europe? If so we cannot always go forward the way we did last season. We should look at Steve Clarke or the guy at Leipzid, excuse the spelling.

  • Pcelt says:

    The whole episode stinks and if he does go as is looking more and more likely then he is a total hypocrite.

  • Wee guy green says:

    When our formed dipped and it did, something was going wrong the players weren’t responding we drew games and lost against rangers..that said it all……been going on for months, inactually thought it was the players and then we’ll good bye.

    He’s a good manager maybe great but we should be happy for him and get behind our new manager. Did think itvstrange when rodgers was in the box but there you go..
    Months and months and month..

    Don’t blame him the press here drove him out and the pundits well another story

  • Bigchunkylardass says:

    I see Rogers is at present the bookies favourite to replace Ange.
    Would you have him back?


  • Biffo67 says:

    If he takes the backroom staff, these are the two guys that so many of our supporters wanted gone more than two years ago and with the manager that we were horrified to have even been appointed two years ago.
    Now that all three have proved their great abilities, we say that they owe us loyalty and should tell us all about the options that their agents have been given before they even have the full contact in front of them.
    As Samuel Goldwyn said “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”
    At the weekend Ange had a go at the press because of the way he was disrespected when he came to us. Lots of us, including you James, were absolutely critical of the decision to appoint this manager. I too thought it was a terrible decision in my ignorance and by listening to bloggers and pundits. We should now have the decency to let them go with our thanks instead of demonising them with soi-disant “righteous indignation”

  • Michael McCann says:

    I think your right on all accounts James. Remember when he said that no players were his personal friends and was off the opinion that player could. So the whole demeanour shows he’s had that approach to a club and fanbase that had taken him to their hearts. In addition, the club and fans are not the only people subjected to this huge disloyalty what about the players he brought in especially the Japanese players that travelled half way round the world for him and his promises. Very unprofessional and I think a kick in the teeth who had supported him whole heartedly when he arrived. On another note I hope the rumours aren’t true about Rodgers he let us down big time, how came you trust the man after that

    • L Farrell says:

      Rodgers knows the club inside out and will hit the ground running. He is the outstanding candidate by a country mile . A new face would take months to get his feet under the table and by that time Beale could be 9 points ahead in the league and us playing catch up. The object is to be successful and accumulate trophies. Rodgers has already proven outstanding at this. Why let petty vindictiveness deprive us of a top coach ?

  • AndyC says:

    Disagree. He might have been tapped up and you can ask when it started but he stayed and saw the treble through. We were never going to keep him given his success here but also how he’s never stayed put for long in his career.

    He goes with my best wishes given how he sorted the mess we were in after 2021. The wrong manager then would have left us chasing newco with them getting auto qualification to the CL riches. For that alone he deserves his place in our history books. It might/could/should have been much more. In some alternate universe we win the 2024 EL but not in this reality. Still he has left us in so much stronger a position. That, 5/6 and the many wonderful attacking performances will be my abiding memories.

  • John harvey says:

    Another incisive and thought provoking article James.
    I am of the opinion as yourself these people come and go the support remains the vonstant

  • Oddjob says:

    According to Sky sports news, Celtic have just given Tottenham permission to speak to Postecoglu. A bit late for that !

  • Andrew Duffy says:

    First of all the approach was to his agent not him and it maybe in his contract he can talk to other clubs he always said he would like to manage in England preferably Liverpool Celtic would have complained to the FA if an illegal approach was made

  • Bunter says:

    Great article and a painful read as I feel duped. Hard lesson learned for us. Let’s treat managers as valued employees and praise them when successful, but no more love bombing. Unless of course it’s a Brown or a Henrik!

  • Gerryfr62 says:

    Spot on.
    The guys a two faced mercenary.
    Thought he was a man of integrity but he was only spouting shite to the fans to keep us on his side

    • Darren Kerr says:

      Totally agree. Up to Ange if he wants to go. Just don’t say things like “You will be surprised how long I will be here” and “I will be here till Celtic don’t want me”. Badge slapping should now only be reserved for us supporters. He’s been coy and sly and that doesn’t sit well. Tommy Burns never won the league but that’s a Celtic legend and Ange will never be one now, doubt he gives a shit.

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