Double Winning Celtic Are A Year On From The Shock That Was Supposed To Set Us Back.

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“Ange, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother, you’re not a friend. I don’t want to know you or what you do. When you come to Celtic Park, I want to know a week in advance, so I won’t be there. You understand?” – Michael Corleone CSC.

Not saying I’m bitter or anything, but yeah, I kinda am.

I wrote the above, on Facebook, a year ago this week.

Ange Postecoglou was confirmed as the Spurs boss a year ago yesterday; this is the first anniversary of our post-Ange lives. I left to go on holiday this time last year, and almost every waking minute of that holiday was spent chasing rumours about who the new boss would be. In trying to find good information, I had to slog through rivers of anti-Celtic garbage.

I posted that Facebook rant because I was as pissed off and frustrated by a Celtic manager’s conduct as I’ve ever been. What angered me most was not the fact of it – it was an enormous offer for a manager with Ange’s career up until then – but that he hadn’t given us the basic security of a long-term contract, thus assuring that any deal with another club would have netted us our due compensation.

There are fans who would have been angrier with Ange Postecoglou if he had walked out on a five-year deal. I understand that. But although he had done what he was brought to Celtic for, and gave us two great seasons and a left us a very decent squad, I thought he owed us some loyalty for bringing him to Europe and giving him the chance.

So, I was disappointed. To say the least. Others, elsewhere, they were elated.

Finally, it seemed to them, we were reeling from a killer blow. Or so it must have looked. In fact, Celtic was in the rudest health it had been in for years. One of the mistakes our enemies and rivals make over and over is that they completely misunderstand what it is that they are looking at when they see our club. Celtic is not what they think it is.

I am critical of this club when this club deserves it, and it often does. But that only happens when we aren’t trying to be at our best, or when we’re not setting our sights high. It’s especially frustrating because I realise what Celtic is and what Celtic’s capabilities are.

We could, if we chose to act in an aggressive way, leave all of Scottish football in the dust. We could have dominated and bullied the game here to the extent we wanted, if we’d been that way inclined. We have more money than any other club by far, and if we’d opted to spend it strategically and properly, if we had a plan for doing that, there would be no serious challenge to us here for the next 20 years, and we could focus our attention on Europe.

I don’t know why we don’t do it, but what those outside our club fail to comprehend is that it’s not because we aren’t capable. The name Celtic still rings out. Celtic still stands tall. To those outside of Scotland, we’re still one of the fairytale football clubs, and so when Ange Postecoglou departed we stood a pretty good chance of continuing on our winning ways.

Yes, we spent the summer shooting ourselves in the foot. But we did the important thing right; we went out and hired the right manager, and that was a seismic shock to the media and to those across the city who had firmly expected us to go backwards.

Some of the names who were linked with the job were wholly uninspiring, and that was a source of great pleasure in the newsrooms and the Ibrox fan forums. That we went out and brought back Rodgers was a stunning development … and their fear of it was obvious from the first, with some of the most ridiculous reportage any of us has ever read.

Over and over again, they underestimate this club, and part of that is the daft way we’ve done certain things, but that’s about leadership rather than capability, and that’s what they never seem to grasp. Celtic is capable of great things. We are set up for great things. We are positioned to do great things. This club, without a sugar daddy, without oligarch wealth, without an over-reliance on massive TV contracts, can still be what it wants to be.

And so when we lost Ange Postecoglou this time last year the media and those across the city were very confident that it would be the start of a downward spiral, and it’s pretty amazing that they so immediately leaped to that conclusion, because it did not line up with the facts. It was as if they’d all revived King’s notorious prediction again that we were like a house of cards, and that losing Ange might do what their sole title win couldn’t, and knock us over.

The reaction to the Rodgers hiring was a classic case of them having drawn a conclusion – that we were in trouble – and being so unwilling to change it that they tried to fit the narrative around a change in our circumstances which actually kept us strong. They had concluded that we would not recover from Ange’s departure, and they desperately went looking for the supporting evidence. And there was none, which is why they were reduced to actually disparaging Rodgers’ previous record, even though it was obviously outstanding.

And a year on from that day, here we are, having won another double, having seen off another Ibrox boss, with another big season in front of us, a campaign where we can make history and put the Lies to bed with it. One year on from the hammer blow which was supposed to smash our club to smithereens, we look as strong as we ever have.

Still, they don’t get it. Still, they underestimate the fundamental strength of Celtic, and the more they do this the more shocked they are when we rise to win again. All the talk now is that the “real” challenge will come next season … and it’s nothing we’ve not heard before.

I hope they keep on doing this, for years and years to come.

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  • brian cavanagh says:

    Brilliant article James – though with all your understanding of leadership and the dark arts of politics I am surprised that your were surprised by Ange’s betrayal- his equivocation to questions about his future after the Hearts game was a red flag -even more surprising that you allowed it to impact on your holiday. The days of Stein, McNeill, O’Neill and even Strachan are gone – we attract mercenaries not that they dont fall in love with us – but we are a stepping stone – so enjoy the whirl just don’t expect a settling down relationship!

    • James Forrest says:

      It’s weird you should say that mate, cause one year ago tomorrow I actually wrote a piece about how he’d telegraphed in advance lol.

      I stumbled across an Australian news article written about seven years ago, after he’d done the self same thing to one of his teams there. Couldn’t believe it.

      Once I’d read that I realised it should have been obvious a mile away.

  • Robert Downey says:

    I don’t agree with you on the matter of Celtics name ringing out proud in Europe.
    I have lived in Spain for 20 years.
    On the Costa Del Sol.
    On the numerous occasions wheI engage in conversation with a local and they question where I am from, they immediately say Glasgow Rangers.
    I am not a fan of this, Rangers have more respect in Europe than we do, I can only put this down to their recent fo in UEFA Tournaments.
    I went to the Adidas store in Malaga to see if they had the new Celtic top , quite recently and the assistant laughed. So when you are making sweeping statements, take a leaf out of your own book and do some research.
    You can’t beat being on the ground, with the actual people who live here.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      ‘Rangers’ simply cannot have more respect in Europe than we do Robert…

      Simply because ‘Rangers’ died in 2012 –

      Sevco though in your locus may well command more respect on the field of play in Europe than we do and it’s hard to argue with that at a Europa League level over the last few seasons in…

      And unless you’re living in a right wing part of the Costa Del Sol that’s infested with fascism (which I very much doubt) then their fans are certainly not and never will have more respect in Europe…

      But I hear where your experience is coming from on a Europa League level though !

    • Michael Collins says:

      Celtic are more regarded throughout the world than The Rangers. I have lived in Thailand for nearly 20 years and just seen a Rangers top for sale in a store in Pattaya for the first time. Also only seen one person wearing a Sevco top in the street in those 20 years while there are shops selling Celtic tops every year. It is not uncommon to see people wearing Celtic tops regularly out here.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    They’ll be thinking a lot more than a “real” challenge yet again next season James…

    They’ll be thinking of a “Real Madrid” challenge yet again next season –

    Oh – The Fools, The Fools, The Fools !

  • Effarr says:

    I`m certain Celtic would have had the treble if Rodgers had played an Ayrshire boy who was well used to the appropriately named Rugby Park pitch and Ayrshire weather on that embarrassing night rather than a young boy just over from S Korea.

    That was Rodgers` first serious blunder which caused a ripple effect for the rest of the season
    which finished up a speed wobble.

  • Magua says:

    I still hold big Ange in high esteem. After a wobbly start, Angeball became a joy to behold. The writing was on the wall for Ange, when that Hun fecker Lawwell returned. The club reverted to the lazy, incompetent way of doing things, that saw BR walk out in February 2019. The lowest common denominator in both walkouts, is not hard to spot.

    Hail Hail.

  • Gerry says:

    Unfortunately the days of any form of loyalty, are very thin on the ground, especially in the management circles.

    Ange’s departure hit us all pretty hard, but when the realism sets in, it should always be expected.

    We could rhyme off, multitudes of quality players that have left us to chase the big bucks and/or further their careers! Similarly, those that have left thinking the grass is greener, and flopped spectacularly.

    Unfortunately for our club, the money swirling around at the top tables in the modern game is both disgusting and obscene, and we’ll always lose players to that.

    In the main, massive greed rules the way, displacing love and contentment for any one club!

    We have to be thankful, despite a hugely frustrating season, that we have a quality manager in BR, and for his ability to steer us, through those tricky moments we’ve experienced this past year.

    However, until we see real progress in this window, with the required removal of so much deadwood, and arrival of the necessary quality, there will be feelings of deja vu.

    I watched the highlights of our run to Seville, ( again) and it was glorious viewing, aside from the obvious disappointment in the final .
    The memories of being there, and remembering the excitement throughout, seems a million light years away.

    As you and loads of our fanbase have rightly said, it is time for our club to get our signings spot on this summer!! Get them correct and we can continue our domestic strength, and for the first time, in many years, re-establish Celtic Park as a fortress, and get our European credibility back.

    That is a must ! HH

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