Ange Postecoglou has won leagues in Austria and Japan but Malky Mackay knows the next five games will be a new
experience in the white-hot heat of a Celtic v Rangers title battle.
The table-topping Hoops head to Dingwall on Sunday to take on Ross County where they’ll try to protect a six-point lead over their rivals.
Mackay has been impressed with the job Postecoglou has done at Celtic and the Aussie will be looking to get over the title line and finish his first season with a domestic double.
The County boss knows some of the Celtic side find themselves in a new position in chasing down the title and that is where he thinks the experience of their 56-year-old gaffer can help aid their cause.
Mackay, part of the Celtic team that stopped Rangers’ 10-in-a-row charge, admitted: “It will help hugely – he is someone who has been there, seen it, done it. That will help his players from him.
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“He’s probably still coming to the biggest pressured situation he’s been in, just from the fact of what that club is as an institution.
“And he is playing against an institution in terms of what last Sunday at Hampden looked like.
“He knows every day as he walks around wherever in Glasgow he lives – 10 times a day someone wants to shout over and say hello.
“It is different being at those two clubs, a different way of life. To actually be the main man, the guy who stands in those shoes… I spoke to someone about this the other day.
“It is one of the presentations I do on the pro-licence.
“Being a coach or a manager and actually understanding what it takes to be in those shoes.
“In that job, at that club? To stand in those shoes takes something not many people understand because of the pressures on you from fans, players, staff, board, and public. And it is the same at Rangers.”
Celtic also have the disappointment of missing out on the Treble after Rangers beat them in last weekend’s semi-final. Mackay knows the Hoops will be hurting going into their trip to the Highlands and he said: “We’ve got Celtic this weekend, off the back of their semi-final defeat to Rangers which means there is a wounded animal coming up here.
“By the same token, they are also realizing their great rivals, the team they are vying for the league against, have just beaten them.
“They then have a huge Old Firm test the following week. It is going to be hard for them.”
Mackay has spent some time with Postecoglou and knows the Aussie’s experiences will stand him in good stead for what his team are about to face. The Staggies gaffer said: “He is very focused and driven. He’s very respectful, I have to say, when I’ve met him and chatted.
“We don’t know each other but this season we’ve had a few texts. What I’m seeing is someone very driven, quietly confident in his own ability.
“From what I hear, he is quite quiet about the place but he has recruited very well. Clearly it is his recruitment of him.
“He has been in Japan and it is Japanese players who have come in, with two or three others.
“He clearly has a way he wants to play and has a body of work behind him as well.
“There is his Australian work and then he’s gone to Japan and got Japanese work.
“He’s been part of The City Group which brings something else with it and has had the confidence to walk into that cauldron there in Glasgow and, losing three of your first six of the season, anything can happen. That resilience under fire – any time I see his press conferences from him, even at the start of the season, it is nice and calm from him.
“He didn’t let it get to him too much and that’s because he’s an experienced manager and has been through a lot of it before.”
Mackay’s side sealed a top-six place in the final game before the split at Aberdeen and he knows it is some achievement by the Staggies to punch above their weight.
He also realizes the competitive nature of the top six means every team has something to play for, whether it be the title, Europe or
Scottish Cup Final starting slots.
Mackay warned: “Rangers are just sitting there, having got through to a final and riding high in Europe, with a fantastic semi-final ahead of them.
“Every one of the teams in the next few weeks are going to be absolutely at it.
“There won’t be a manager allowing their team to drop.”