Ange Postecoglou turned Celtic isolation hotel into rebuild bunker as he admits rare Rangers moment of doubt

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He’s the first Celtic manager to start work on the job while isolating in a London hotel room.

That’s where the plotting and planning began for Ange Postecoglou. He hadn’t even been unveiled yet.

But he barely had time to look inside the mini-bar as he assessed, reviewed and analyzed what he was walking into. That preparation and attention to detail paid off.

Just 11 months later he’s now on the cusp of leading the club to a Premiership title and is the William Hill Scottish Football Writers’ Association Manager of the Year.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. He admits to having self-doubts after just seven domestic games.

Postecoglou has revealed that after looking at Rangers close up, he didn’t think they’d lose a game to any side apart from Celtic in the title race.

Thankfully for Hoops fans, he was wrong. And when Gio van Bronckhorst’s side had a blip, the Parkhead side went in for the kill and took advantage.

On Wednesday night they could clinch the league flag against Dundee United at Tannadice.

Given where he started, it will be a phenomenal achievement for the Celtic gaffer.

But from the minute he started working in that hotel room, the Australian knew the size of the task he faced.

Postecoglou said: “I got my head around that pretty quickly. I had a week of isolation in a hotel room where I could exorcise all my demons and any doubts I had about the enormity of it.

“Once I got here I didn’t have time to think about it. If you do that too much then it becomes overwhelming.

“In that hotel room I was working – absolutely. I had no time to waste. There was too much to do.

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“I knew the enormity of the task but I was prepared to take it on because I was confident I could build something.

“At the same time I knew we couldn’t go 12 months without some sort of success.

“I could have said: ‘This is a rebuilding year.’ But I felt I had to use every moment to make sure we gave ourselves a chance.

“Everyone knows I was brought in pretty late. So there wasn’t a time when I could sit back and take in the landscape of what we needed to do.



New Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou touches down at Glasgow Airport
The moment Ange Postecoglou arrived after his London isolation

“As soon as I got the job – even when I was still in Japan – I’d started mapping out the steps we needed to take.

“The blueprint was there but putting that into practice was going to be the challenging bit.

“There was no doubt the beginning was going to be rocky. It was going to take time to embed a football style.

“But I tried to stay disciplined. I wanted to make sure I took every step I thought we needed to be competitive.

“It’s human nature to have self-doubts. You’ll never improve if you think you have certainty with everything.

“We saw that last week.

“In the 89th minute you’re (Manchester City) in a Champions League Final. Then inside two minutes your whole world changes. There’s always a fine line in football.

“You always have doubts. But there’s a core of values ​​and beliefs that get you through, what you rely on in moments of doubt.

“I felt my best strategy this year was never to look too far ahead in terms of consequences.

“After seven games we’d won three, lost three and drawn one.

“My feeling in assessing Rangers was they were champions, undefeated last year, and I thought: ‘How many games will they lose?’

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“Apart from us, I didn’t think they’d lose any.

“For us, it was head down, blinkers on – and not taking the blinkers off until it was done.”

A huge part of Postecoglou’s success has been his strike rate in the transfer market.

It’s difficult to name one of his signings who hasn’t made an impact or improved his team.

But without being arrogant, the Celtic boss KNEW he’d get his recruitment right.

And he was convinced Japanese ace Kyogo Furuhashi would take Parkhead by storm.

He said: “I was always going to be judged on the players I brought in because that’s where you put your words into
practice. We brought in Kyogo and Liel Abada and they hit the ground running.

“Am I surprised at how successful our strike rate has been? Do not.

“I don’t say that dismissively. It’s not an exact science and it’s not all about money.

“There are plenty of clubs around the world who spend a hell of a lot and don’t get it right.

“The reason I was confident was because it has been part of my whole career.

“I had a clear idea of ​​the kind of football we wanted to play and I’m pretty good at
identifying the players who will fit into my system.

“That means I can eliminate a lot of players. I’ve always backed myself and more often than not – not always – I will get it right.

“I was confident, for example, that Kyogo would make a hell of an impact.



Ange Postecoglou with Kyogo Furuhashi

“I knew he’d fit into my style and the type of player he is.

“So there was a good chance of success and that would then buy me the faith and trust of people to continue.”

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Now there are very few doubts about Postecoglou’s credentials as gaffer, in a domestic setting at least.

After managing in Australia and Japan, the 56-year-old feels settled in Scotland.

For him, winning the title as well as the League Cup would be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he wants to achieve at Parkhead.

He said: “I’ve always felt a need to challenge myself or take myself out of a comfort zone. I’ve never sought security or a comfortable existence.

“Every time I’ve moved on from somewhere it hasn’t been because I’ve been unhappy.

“It’s because I’ve felt the need to conquer something new and not be fearful of it.

“I probably won’t coach my best if I’m comfortable.

“I haven’t had too many stumbles along the way.

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“If I have a major stumble it might realign my vision of what the next step is.

“But I’m enjoying life at this club. I’ve just scratched the surface at Celtic.

“This is just the first year of trying to build something that will be special.”



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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