Ange Postecoglou Celtic move: Inside the Parkhead goldfish bowl Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

Source
By Dominic Bossi

Those who know Celtic best fear Ange Postecoglou could be walking into a hornets’ nest.

The former Socceroos boss was appointed head coach of the Glasgow giants on Thursday night, becoming the first Australian to take charge of a major men’s European club. However, the road ahead is littered with perils and pitfalls: public harassment, relentless media scrutiny, vandalised property, frozen pitches, hostile fans and a club is the midst of an administrative crisis.

“Postecoglou is coming into a pretty negative environment, to be honest with you,” says Michael Grant, chief football writer at the Scottish Times. “He’s going to have a hard job turning the club around from where they stand at the moment.”

Boss of the Bhoys: Ange Postecoglou is the new coach of Scottish giants Celtic.

Boss of the Bhoys: Ange Postecoglou is the new coach of Scottish giants Celtic.Credit:Getty

For starters, the fans are on the brink of revolt against the club’s leaders. Celtic were gunning for a record tenth straight Scottish championship last year, but could only watch as their resurgent Glasgow rivals, Rangers, ran away with the title. In February, amid a backdrop of fan fury as the gap at the top became insurmountable, coach Neil Lennon fell on his sword and resigned.

The club’s response was to pursue popular and highly rated former Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe. When Howe rejected the Hoops’ offer, the club instead went for an Australian coach few had even heard of.

“When that deal fell through, they were furious because it looked like Celtic were back to square one,” Grant said. “People here don’t know about Postecoglou or his record and people still have old-fashioned views about Australian and Japanese football.”

What Postecoglou often described as passport discrimination facing Australians in Europe is but one of the obstacles he faces. Another is rebuilding a team in a short space of time. To do that, he won’t even have the assistance afforded to his predecessors.

As Celtic is overhauling its squad, so too is it changing its back room. Their influential chief executive of 17 years, Peter Lawwell, steps down in July. The club doesn’t have a director of football or a head of recruitment, leaving Postecoglou to find players on his own.

“It’s a bit of a mess at Celtic to be honest with you, and that’s what Postecoglou’s walking into,” Grant said.

The expectation of immediate success will, nevertheless, remain. Celtic’s support will not look kindly on another trophy-less season and the club begins their UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign in a matter of weeks. Success will provide a financial boost while the transfer window remains open and will go some way to winning over supporters.

“That pressure is there from the previous season. The first two, three four games are going to be really important for him,” former Celtic and Rangers striker, Kenny Miller, said.

Goldfish bowl: Postecoglou is walking into an intense atmosphere.

Goldfish bowl: Postecoglou is walking into an intense atmosphere.Credit:Getty

Failure in the qualifiers could trigger a toxic public response. Former Celtic and Australia striker Scott McDonald has experienced the full force of that. Success made him a star in the green half of Glasgow, defeats meant he couldn’t go out in public.

“My two cars got vandalised,” McDonald said. “There was paint stripper poured all over them.”

The incident was anything but isolated.

“I had that as well,” Miller said. “That seemed to be the go-to manoeuvre at the time.”

Life on either side of the Old Firm can be hostile, to say the least. Lawwell’s house was fire-bombed after Rangers won the title in March while former coach Martin O’Neill was assaulted by a supporter on the touchline in 2011.

But the intensity of the atmosphere in Glasgow was one McDonald revered in. “There are a lot more positives than negatives,” the boyhood Celtic fan said.

McDonald would be swamped by fans when dining with his family, going to the grocery store or even collecting his kids from school. The vast majority of his fan interactions were in a good spirit, and he felt the warmth of the public’s adoration. Some of his teammates and coaches chose to live outside of Glasgow, but in his three years with Celtic, McDonald never left the city limits.

“It’s a goldfish bowl,” he said. “To the day I left, I loved it. I loved the pressure. Some revel in it, some can shrink.”

The key to surviving in the football-mad climate of Glasgow, according to Miller, is understanding the locals.

“You need to embrace it and understand what it means to the people, what it means to the city,” Miller said. “The city is a wonderful place to be when everything is going well but it’s tough when it’s not. Sometimes it can be a lonely place.”

Away from Glasgow, the environment doesn’t get any kinder. Away trips are often on muddy, frozen fields; “They won’t be pitches you can play the beautiful game on,” McDonald said.

The smaller clubs all lift their game against Celtic and fans are hostile on the fences. and the title race is ever-present in the back of players’ minds. “It’s not just playing football, it’s psychological warfare,” McDonald said.

In every club job he’s had, Postecoglou has succeeded beyond expectations. The Celtic move is one he deserves, but it will come with expectations that can prove suffocating.

“It’s a massive opportunity for him, but it will be different from anything he’s experienced,” Miller said.

Madeline Groves raises serious issues but must add detail to her accusations Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
State of Origin 2021: NSW braced for $10 million boost after Blues’ thumping win Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Donations pour in to Archives as historians decry decay of ‘national memory bank’ Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Operation Ironside: Airport worker arrested and charged with drug trafficking and money laundering Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
‘Real generational change’: Chris Minns reveals new Labor frontbench Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Race-by-race preview and tips for Randwick on Saturday Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
AFL 2021 LIVE updates: Sydney Swans v Hawthorn Hawks; round 13 fixtures, results, tipping, tickets, draw, odds, tickets
Olympic Games 2021: Australian surfers ready to ‘pack a sting’ in Tokyo Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Geoffrey Edelsten found dead in Melbourne apartment
Bondi Beach school closed after fire, students to be bused to Bellevue Hill Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content