The Ange Postecoglou Story A Lot Of Celtic Fans Must Wish They’d Heard Sooner.

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There is a tremendous insight into the difference between what we think we know about people and what the truth really is. in the novel Primary Colours, about a Southern Democrat, very obviously modelled on Bill Clinton, who runs for President.

His campaign strategist, Henry Burton, who is the narrator of the story, tries to combat an evolving series of scandals by hiring an investigator to look into the candidate, Jack Stanton, in an effort to discover what else might pop up.

The person they bring in is Libby Holden, Stanton’s former chief of staff. What she tells Burton and his small team at their very first meeting astounds them. He’s a serial love rat who had “poked his pecker in a lot of trash bins.”

Burton’s astonishment morphs into a sense of stunned realisation; “I had seen Jack Stanton from Washington down; Libby Holden, clearly, had seen him from Mammoth Falls up.” And that’s why she knows where all the bodies are buried.

Because she saw the man when he was just another grinning activist, obviously with gifts and talents that none around him possessed, but back in the real and the raw.

For a real insight into someone’s character, sometimes it helps to talk to those who really know their stuff.

On 27 May, nearly a fortnight ago, and just before the Spurs story hit high gear with the news from London that he was now their main candidate, Vince Rugani of the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote an interesting story about our former manager that would not just have had alarm bells ringing had most of us read it at the time, but they would have been clanging in a way that would have been too great to ignore. Because it predicted our weekend.

And it done that by reaching into the not too distant past.

Entitled, “Spurred on: What Postecoglou’s past tells us about his Premier League future”, if I had read that then I would not have been so completely deaf to a lot of what was obviously going on.

This is as close to an explanation for the weekend as you’ll get.

“Two days after winning the 2012 A-League grand final with Brisbane Roar, Ange Postecoglou and his players were feted with a ticker-tape parade through the city,” Rugani’s piece opens. “Thousands of fans lined the streets to celebrate their second title in a row – but they all had knots in their stomachs because rumours were rife that he was about to leave the club.”

And if that sounds eerily, depressingly, familiar what’s next will come as a major shock nonetheless. It certainly did to me when I read it last night, although I’d spent much of the day discussing and even defending the articles I’ve written since the weekend which basically accuse our manager of having blatantly mislead the supporters.

“Postecoglou sat in a sports car with skipper Matt Smith and the team’s precious silverware on a melancholy drive down the Queen Street Mall and then to a public reception at King George Square,” Rugani’s piece continues. ““Why not? Let’s make it three,” Postecoglou told the crowd.

“Then they returned to the club’s headquarters at Ballymore and he broke the news they were all dreading: he was leaving. Some players had already guessed as much by his body language on the day. Only two of his assistants, Rado Vidosic and Ken Stead, knew it was coming for sure because he’d given them the heads up.”

Interesting, right?

He told the crowd “let’s make it three” and then went back to the training ground and told the players that he was offski. And you know what else? He was moving to another Australian team, Melbourne Victory, who unveiled him two days later.

Here’s my favourite bit, and the bit we should brace ourselves for.

The next time his former club’s fans heard from him was when he gave the media a one-sided sob story about how the decision had been a wrench and how he had kept the truth from them so that they could enjoy the day of celebration.

“I knew the news would make an impact, but I did not want it to take away from the celebration of the win, and it is why I left it until after the parade.”

And you know what it reminds me of?

It reminds me of Jeremy Vine’s notorious story about Boris Johnson, which you can find if you Google it, as I’m not prepared to put in a link to The Spectator. But I can paraphrase it anyway.

(And before I do, and before some folk go off their nut, I am not comparing our former manager with the greatest liar in British political history; the point of the story isn’t about that, although the story is about him.)

Vine offered this story as an illuminating insight, and it’s definitely that.

Vine says that he attended a politics dinner at the Hilton, Park Lane a few years before Boris Johnson became Mayor of London, when he was just the most famous back bench MP in the country. Vine had never heard Johnson speak, and when he found out Johnson was the main speaker that night he was quite interested to find out how good he was.

But Johnson turned up at the dinner only two minutes before he was due to take the stage; unkempt, disorganised, flustered but not embarrassed. He walked through the doors, still trying to fix his hair, and said “Where the Hell am I?”

When Vine, who he had sat next to, told him what the event was being held for Johnson stammered and asked who was speaking. Vine told him “you are” in utter amazement and not a little concern.

Johnson asked the table for help.

He hadn’t written a speech.

He produced a piece of paper, took some apparently random notes, and Vine caught sight of what he was scribbling down; the word SHEEP and the word SHARK. And then Johnson got up to speak.

He started by forgetting the name of the organisation who were hosting the dinner.

And he laughed at his own stupidity. And they all laughed with him.

Then, shouting the word “SHEEP” into the microphone he started with a story about his uncle’s farm and how EU regulations wouldn’t let his uncle bury a sheep which died, but required that he call an abattoir fifty miles away.

Then Johnson either forget his uncle’s name or the sheep’s name or the guy at the abattoir’s name … it’s not quite clear and the audience did not care. They were applauding wildly by this time.

He laughed along with them and told them that this was why his hero is the mayor from Jaws; he fought to keep the beaches open and if some folk were eaten by a shark, well so be it. By now not a person in the room was not along for the ride and Vine genuinely believed that he was watching an absolute genius at work, a man who could command a room even off the cuff.

Finally, Johnson launched into a complicated joke, but one a lot of people in the room were familiar with because it’s one of those stories which has been around for years. Midway through it he totally lost his place, forgot the punchline and still got a standing ovation. He moved on to presenting the award, and as he picked it up he used a memorably vivid phrase; he called it “this lozenge shaped award.” Which the crowd loved. Vine couldn’t believe it.

“Something about the chaos of it – the reality, I suppose – was utterly joyful,” Vine wrote. “The idea that this was the opposite of a politician, that suddenly we had an MP in front of us who was utterly real, who had come without a script or an agenda and then forgotten, not just the name of the event but his whole speech and the punchline to his funniest story. I watched in awe.”

Eighteen months later, Vine attended another night for another organisation.

He didn’t know that the main speaker was Boris Johnson for most of the early night, because Johnson wasn’t there. He turned up late, arriving just minutes before the speech … and the first thing he did was ask the event organiser where he was and what the night was for. Then, as Vine watched incredulously, he borrowed a piece of paper and starting taking impromptu notes.

And so the speech starts.

“Into the tirade about the uncle who is not allowed to dispose of a dead sheep on his farm and had to call the man at the abattoir. ‘I can’t remember his name. Mick – no, Jim. No. Hang on. It was MARGARET…’ Then to the Mayor from Jaws, who kept the beaches open. A moment’s pause. ‘I do accept that some small children were eaten by a shark as a result…’”

And on into the badly mangled joke and the presenting of the award and the use of that self same, very specific, phrase to describe the prize which Vine remembered from the first encounter.

And Vine got it instantly; thinking of Agatha Christie’s hero, Hercule Poirot.

““The key instant in each book comes just before the denouement as the solution suddenly falls into place in the brain of the great man. At that point the crime-busting Belgian touches the delicate ends of his moustache, winks at the air and utters the key phrase: “Now, mon ami, now I understand everything” …

“Watching Boris at that second event, in the middle of a crowd of dinner-jacketed businesspeople all laughing and hooting, I was momentarily apart from the proceedings. I would have touched the ends of my moustache if I had one. People who speak after dinner don’t usually get to observe each other because no one books us in pairs. So when we do accidentally come together, we watch with close fascination. Now, I thought, now I understand everything.”

And reading Rugani’s article last night I kind of feel that I do as well.

Some people are just good at this stuff.

They can read the room. They can move the audience. They can tell a great story.

They can act out a role; that’s the important one.

And eventually you have to wonder; is anything that comes out of their mouths genuine?

Or to put it as Vine did at the end of that article; “Is this guy for real?”

The first time you see a magic act you forget that it’s a act … you just see the magic.

But when you’ve seen it a few times and know how it’s done … then it’s just a series of tricks

When Ange does his next interview, and he tells us that he kept the truth from us for our own good and not for his benefit, that the lies and deceptions were necessary so that we could enjoy the weekend and the treble, I want you to think about Rugani’s story … and Jeremy Vine’s.

Do yourself a favour, before you fall back into the pattern of believing this guy “gets it” and that he’s really heart sick about leaving all this behind; just stop for a second and ask yourself that question;

“Is this guy for real?”

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  • Scotty Bhoy says:

    He’s leaving for a job in the strongest league in the world, a potential top 6 club at that and rumors are he’s going to be making 5 – 8 times his salary at Celtic. We’re talking life changing money, generational wealth here. He inherited a mess, got us playing an exciting brand of football in no real time at all and made some incredible signings. Brought us 5 trophies along the way. He’s laid decent foundations going forward and hopefully the board learn from the last 2 years and don’t go back to their old ways. I’ll miss him terribly, but i wish him luck and hope he continues to prove the doubters wrong.

    • Iljas Baker says:

      Well said Scotty. Ange is a professional manager, not a fan. I don’t think James’s cynicism is justified. Why would Ange want to spoil the mood after wining a major trophy? Real professionals look after their own interests for sure but they are not brutes. James will get over it but I guess he needs to vent for a while.

  • Mick says:

    Best comment and analysis I have seen and very interesting parallels from past Aussie club. You can fool all the people – if you are good enough!

    • Tom Foolery says:

      He never fooled all the people though he only fooled the gullible. It’s groundhog day for some of the folk who genuinely believed that BR was ‘here’ for 10 and beyond….It’s almost as if they learned nothing from that passage in our history. Only fools think that a manager on the cusp of a historic treble would come out days before the final and declare ‘I’m off to Spurs after the cup final’. And there lies the heart of the matter. People aren’t upset that Ange ‘lied’ and has now left the building….They’re upset because it has exposed their own gullibility.

  • Snot Boogie says:

    We’ve had a great couple of seasons and the real supporters say ‘thanks for the memories’ and will get right behind the new Boss. You should write for a Hun site. Maybe you already do.

  • john clarke says:

    Following his phenomenal success at Brisbane, Ange failed to impress at Melbourne Victory. I have calmed down after reading the weekend’s shocking news.
    Ange is a good person. His overwhelming desire to be successful at the highest level of world football, has sadly swamped his traits of integrity and frankness in the mind of many Celtic fans. Levy will be holding the reins and levers at North London. Ange won’t like working with an autocrat or a panic merchant. Joe Hart was right. Ange should “stay where he is loved”.

  • Captain Swing says:

    Some just have a natural flair for PR. In football, Jock Stein had it, Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan to some extent had it. Brendan Rodgers definitely did. Neil Lennon notably does not. In politics Tony Blair, Harold Wilson, David Cameron and the aforementioned BJ clearly had or have it, in Ted Heath, Gordon Brown, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn it was equally conspicuous by its absence. The first four could convince you they were telling the truth when they were lying their head off, the other lot looked like they were lying when they were telling the truth..You could call it deeply dishonest and deceitful, or you could spin it as an essential business skill for career advancement. A form of emotional intelligence if you like.

  • Bigmick says:

    Ange brought some success to an institution 1,000 times greater than he can ever be.
    I genuinely believe that we,Celtic fans,gave him far more than he gave us. He IS a lucky man.
    Now he’s gone…thanks and goodbye. Next please.

  • BG says:

    Hello James. An excellent article and well done for the research.

    He definitely knew how to manipulate a crowd (or the fans). I feel sorry for the Celtic support who follow the team through thick and thin. They invested heavily in him and gave him unprecedented love and support. Now he has treated that support like a ‘joke’ as he complained the press had done to him.

    We can now look back and analyse his hollow statements such as he was making reference to the great Jock and claiming he wanted to leave a legacy behind.

    As a football club we are an attractive prospect for any top manager. The only thing that goes against us is that we are stuck in Scotland and lack of finances which go with it. But as fans we should be ruthless and demand any manager (who in the back of their head want to use us as a stepping stone) nothing less than a 100% success, domestically.

    In reference to his trend of behaviour I heard in one of his interview that after his appointment he met Rodgers and kept in touch with him. Maybe it takes one (rat) to know one. I can see similarities.

    I’m not sure what the actions of Brendan and Ange will do to the long term stability of the club and the mental scars they could leave on supporters.

  • Shaunysaurus says:


  • Peter Campbell says:

    Reading this article about how Ange has told the Australian fans, and now us, what we wanted to hear, having won our trophies, what I wrote on Twitter earlier today is as much as I can sum up about his character. A man of integrity is a man of integrity no matter the situation, Ange is not a man of integrity (as we all thought he was but he clearly had us all fooled and clearly some still are) if he’s only a man of integrity when it’s easy.

    I wish him well but I am raging with him, not because he’s gone, but because it now feels like everything he’s told us is now a lie.

  • Johnno says:

    Sorry James but I still fail to see how Ange could have handled the whole spurs situation different than he did.
    Was in a situation where dammed if you did, dammed if you didn’t, and the result was always going to be hurt, but had to be delivered in the least effective manner and still believe Ange managed to do that.
    Yes the whole process was possibly going on for weeks, and the performances from the team were equally as bad.
    Even on our historic treble occasion the performance was piss poor for very long periods of the game.
    With that in mind, would we have been to happy with seen that sort of shite on show that has been there for a while now?
    There is also an art within a manager for getting out at the right time, and Ange seems to have mastered the art, hardly going to condemn him for that either.

    Making comparisons between Ange and Rodgers in the manner they left the club remains ridiculous imo.
    Ange was wanted to be kept within the club, yet next season was always going to be telling to just how good of a manager Ange really is?
    Rodgers was forced out of the club as his last 2 transfer windows showed the board weren’t prepared to invest within him, and yet the same happened at Leicester this season?
    So something within Rodgers that a board don’t like still remains?
    What the future holds for the majority of any football club is nothing more than a guessing game, with just how quickly thing’s can change within it.
    The scum will be rejoicing thinking we will fall flat on our faces next season.
    I just don’t believe that it will happen and will actually be far stronger than in the manner we finished this season, which can only ultimately end in ever more success heading our way.

    As a club we still remain a very attractive opportunity within a footballing career, for managers and players alike, and that will never change either.
    We still pay plenty of money to make them individuals very wealthy people.
    Yet we can’t offer anything like what the lure of the EPL has on offer, so Scottish football will always be undermined by it for the foreseeable anyway.
    As a club we still offer far more than any EPL club can do in terms of support, yet sadly that still isn’t enough for many within the game.
    In a world that is dominated by so much greed, and the footballing world has long ago been so dominant within that, then really how much money does it really take to find happiness within it?
    Maybe Ange stands to find out the answer to the question now, and still believe he won’t enjoy the answer

    • Iljas Baker says:

      I agree Johnno. Ange has been a consummate professional. I do not believe for a minute he led anyone on. Why would he want to undermine the celebrations? He’s no brute. No fan really knows him and neither does any journalist but the former need to vent their feeling for a time and the latter need to invent stories most of the time. He left a great legacy let’s hope things continue down the same road and wish him well. He must know he’s opted for the cauldron of the EPL not the pond of Scottish football but he’s a brave man and it’s probably now or never. I wish him well and will be taking an interest.

  • Scud Missile says:

    Ange’s next employment after football will be politics,he blends right in there in with his LIES.
    Through the plebs a few good lines take on the so called journalists have the fans eating out of your hand then,boom!
    We all fell for his lies,Ange has now taken over the role as CHISLER from King which I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to tell anymore lies than he did.
    Think on that he played us all for fools and we laughed at King for doing this to sevco fans treating them as MUGS,and here we had our very own stuntman for King.

  • Henriksgoldenboot says:

    And Ange said ” words cannot express the feeling of gratitude I have towards everyone involved at the football club.”

    From the Board of directors to the staff, this special group of players, and finally the most passionate supporters in the country, everyone has given me the best support manager could want”.

    Where have we heard these words before. These are his words when he was leaving Yokohama marinos.

    TBH I’m still shell shocked and in denial despite as you state above James the “warning signs”. I had real faith that he was staying despite all of the noise and gnashing of teeth from our media. My faith being based on the willing him to stay borne of the fact that we too need stability, as we like Spurs are, as of Ange were on our 4th manager in 4 years if you want to count Kennedy.

    There needs to be a revision of how our managerial contracts are set up by the board. A one year contract at the outset for any new manager with 3 years set after that if they do well in that first season. With a further option at the end of the 4th year. This will give us what I see as a MINIMUM period of stability required for a club like ours and for moving forward in the right way.

    But what is a contract these days, it’s just a piece of paper that gives us a bit of financial security, because if we unearthed another gem much like we do with our players another manager could easily walk away if the price is right.

    My only consolation for you all and possible comfort out of all of this is this. Ange has a track record of going back to where he came from to bring known players with him. I think he could quite possibly come back for Kyogo, Jota and CCV. I specifically mention those 3 as I think they would be most suited to the EPL and can make the step up. We could easily net £60 million from such a spree. Imagine what this could do for us.

    Theres gonna be some more brighter days. No matter who walks from the club we, the fans will always walk together. We’ll never walk alone. God bless you.all.

  • SSMPM says:

    He done a great job whilst he was in post, no denying that and portrayed himself as in it for the long haul and as such got the full support of the board and the fans. His achievements were amazing. Transforming no doubt and he said it would surprise us how long he’d be here. Well it did.
    For a man that has spent a decent amount of time in Japan leaving in such a terrible way, lying through his teeth, only reflects a self conceited narcissistic man without honour and the trouble is he would know that it would reflect so badly on him but seems not to care. He just, like your Boris Johnson comparison, seems to say what he thinks you want to hear.
    Far better to have been upfront sometime ago about his ambition when clearly the offer was made and agreed with Levy. He could have reached an agreement with Spurs to come out and do so, told the truth of the opportunity on offer to him as one he simply couldn’t turn away from and state that it’s with great regret that he came to that decision but thanks for the love and memories you gave me at Celtic.
    The Cup final could have been his swansong, good managers are always probably gonna move on from Celtic but he and we could have had a much better and more appreciative ending. There’s no honesty or integrity building another lie on a lie.
    We were always gonna beat ICT so this tosh about allowing us to enjoy the day and building on another lie was just another example of his clearly evident manipulative and cowardly character. Given more backing and support by our board and fans than any other manager he’s returned it with vile lies and a debasing backstabbing. Unwilling as he was to face our fans with the truth, he takes flight swooping off to London I hope his career plummets and good riddance. HH

  • John S says:

    Very insightful article. Now that we know that he’s gone, we know that he was leaving. It wouldn’t have been good to announce this before a Cup Final, however, it now appears this was planned way before that, which means Celtic fans were being misled.
    The rolling contract was understandable from Celtic’s point of view, in the first instance and at that time. The refusal of an improved contract on the manager’s part makes it clear that his statement about people being surprised as to how long he would stay was disingenuous, even if somewhat entirely accurate.
    There are other good managers out there but the club must secure its player recruitment process which has been instrumental in the team’s success.

  • Alexander Duffy says:

    Great article and the fact that he has previous makes it even worse. His mantra was “we never stop” but that should change to “I never stop”. It was always about him and not the club. We need a Stein,McNeil,Hay or Burns a person who wants to be a great Celtic manager. Our club deserves the best and not another 2 year project manager. The club needs stability and somebody who wants to be there longer term.

  • John says:

    AP is completely done now. Great article James.

    We all need to move on now. We cannot keep focusing on something we cannot control.

    Need to look forward to the next manager and accept this hopefully could be a stepping stone to greater things.

    The club is bigger than just one man.

  • Tommy McQuillan says:

    I’ve said on a couple of sites before I read your piece James that Ange has played the biggest confidence trick ever on the Celtic support and we fell for it hook, line and sinker. Now I’ve read your piece I know I’m right, all Ange is bothered about is himself. How much of a narcissist do you have to be to do that to supporters who idolised you? I hope now that Ange fails terribly at Spurs that job is a poisoned chalice and he could yet run the day he left Celtic. There’s no doubt he’s a good manager and he performed miracles from the shitshow he inherited but that all means nothing, he’s dead to me now and I hope he gets his comeuppance at Spurs. I wouldn’t wish him any health problems or anything I just hope his fall from grace is an almighty one.

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Ange did a fantastic job for Celtic has brought in some good players who we will earn Celtic a fortune”so thanks Ange enjoy your new club and hope you can give them success. He now has life changing security for his family so who would not jump at this chance 4 year contract millions of pounds in the bank no contest and a great club and league to manage in wish Celtic played there.

  • Iljas baker says:

    Ange is a man of integrity, a complete professional not a narcissist. If people feel fooled it is because they are fools. Football is a whole world away from the Jock Stein and Tommy Burns days. It’s a big business now with millions to be made for the best. If you look at the things Ange said there’s nothing designed to mislead. They were all true at the time. I wish him well and will be taking an interest in his new team/league.

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