Dermot Desmond and his candid Celtic revelation as astounding Ange the man for Then and Now derby – Hugh Keevins – Hugh Keevins


Dermot Desmond made a candid revelation during his lengthy interview for Celtic’s television channel last week.

Describing how he and former chief executive Peter Lawwell had put five names on to a list of prospective Celtic managers, Dermot’s exact words were: “I had no idea who Ange was. I couldn’t pronounce his name from him.”

One thing you can bet on, responsibly or otherwise, is that Postecoglou will now trip off Desmond’s tongue with absolutely no problem whatsoever.

Because that was then and this is now.

And what the man who is the club’s owner in all but name didn’t know then is now ingrained on his mind.

Desmond was criticized for suddenly emerging in public after Celtic’s potentially pivotal league win over Rangers at Ibrox to discuss his manager, and other club matters, in detail.

But there are two points to be made about that in-house interview.

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In the first place, the Irishman has now been Celtic’s major shareholder, offering financial stability while being a human safety net in case of emergency, for quarter of a century.

There has to be a value in that continuity while every other club in the Premiership, with the exception of St Johnstone, has changed hands over that same period of time.

He can emerge from or withdraw into the shadows as and when he sees fit.

Secondly, the appointment of Postecoglou in the wake of 10-in-a-row vapourising was Desmond’s risk to take.

If it had proved to be a mistake the principal shareholder would now be living with the consequences.

But “owning” a situation and “taking responsibility” for your actions have become all the rage.

Social media is a hotbed of fevered content before and after any game between Celtic and Rangers. Words that I wrote on this page on the morning of August 1, 2021 were reproduced regularly last week.

I won’t say “monotonous” because that would sound like an objection when I’m trying to offer clarity.

On that day Celtic were in a chaotic state, on and off the park.

The club had gone out of the Champions League qualifiers to moderate opposition and lost the first game of the league season to the newly-promoted Hearts at Tynecastle.

The first defeat of three in the opening six matches that added up to what looked like an inauspicious start to the season. Inauspicious as in dire.

That was then.

Now Celtic, having already won the first trophy of the season, will play Rangers today with the Ibrox side needing to win the Scottish Cup semi-final or face the prospect of finishing the domestic season without a trophy to their name.

This time last year, Rangers had already secured the league title and were in the throes of recording a title win by a margin of 25 points.

That was then.

Next time they erect crush barriers outside Celtic Park they will be to contain adoring crowds, drawn there to celebrate the extraordinary work Postecoglou has done in a short space of time to transform Celtic’s fortunes.

Before he came they were hurling the barriers at police as fury over the team’s collapse became too much to bear.



That was then.

Events on the park change the mood around any football club and alter the script for those who chronicle what is going on around them.

The words “Absolutely Not Good Enough” fitted the circumstances when they were written.

The job that Ange has done since then is nothing short of astounding.

As in more than good enough.

That difference has been acknowledged here on many occasions because that is only fair.

To ignore the acknowledgment in the interest of fomenting discord is dishonest and disingenuous.

Postecoglou’s team will go to Hampden today having scored nine goals in their last two league games and with eight different goalscorers. All of whom were signed by the manager.

Yet more testimony to a starting work in progress.

One set of fans refuse to call this an Old Firm derby. The other side abhor the term “Glasgow derby” so much they demanded Rangers give up a three million pound payday in Australia rather than trade under that slogan.

I think it’s a childish discussion led by people who don’t know there are 26 letters in the alphabet – but I’ll offer an alternative working title.

This is the Then and Now derby, and the former is infinitely less important than the latter.

I think Postecoglou’s team will have enough about them to win today but that opinion will be validated, or vilified, depending on the result.

Sticking your neck out goes one of two ways and always has done.

Then and now.

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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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