“In my personal opinion he’s the best coach (in any sport) that this country has produced”

For a country as wildly passionate about sport as Australia, this is an extremely strong statement to make, but it’s one that Sydney based journalist Vince Rugari has no hesitation with.

Rugari – who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald – has been following the journey of Ange Postecoglou for some time now, and like many of his compatriots has suddenly found himself paying particularly close attention to a team playing in green and white hoops some 10,000+ miles away in the East End of Glasgow.

Postecoglou is something of a phenomenon in his adopted home country and through his successes at club level with South Melbourne, Melbourne Victory and particularly with Brisbane Roar has achieved something close to cult status in the Land Down Under.

It was at Brisbane Roar (Where they earned the nickname “Roarcelona” (Planet Football) due to their possession based style of play) that people really began to take notice of Ange, not just for winning back to back A-League Championships but also for an impressive 36-game unbeaten run in the 2011/12 season which remains unsurpassed to this day.

It was during this time that Ange redefined what people thought Australian players were capable of!”

It wasn’t long before the Australian national team came calling, and following a relatively short spell at Melbourne Victory he took the reigns of the Socceroos, guiding them to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, an Asian Cup victory in 2015 and subsequent qualification for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Postecoglou notably walked away from the opportunity to lead Australia to a second consecutive World Cup Finals and Rugari, speaking to The Celtic Exchange Podcast, states that the reasons behind this are “complicated” but that it must have been an extremely tough decision to make for a man who “cares so deeply” about Australian football.

Next stop was Yokohama F Marinos of Japan where he guided them to their first J-League title in 15 years in 2019. All the more impressive about this achievement is the fact that he bypassed the language barrier by coaching his players every day through a translator, yet still managed to get them to play “swashbuckling, unbelievable football” in the best league in Asia.

Fast forward to June 10th 2021 when Celtic announced that Ange would become the first Australian in the club’s 133-year history to become manager (CelticFC.com) , leading to a frenzy of Google, YouTube and Wikipedia searches amongst supporters desperate to gather as much information as they could about their new man.

Was there a certain snobbery by some about this “unknown” who had won multiple titles in different countries and managed at a World Cup? I wouldn’t like to say.

Dare I say the opposite was also happening at the same time amongst Rugari and his peers in the Australian sports media as they rushed to bring themselves up to speed on “Scottish Giants, Celtic” who had somehow managed to persuade their much loved coach to travel halfway across the club to take up his new post.

We now find ourselves 16 competitive games into Ange’s reign at Celtic Park. Has it been a smooth ride? No. Has it been exciting? Yes. Has it been terrifying? Occasionally.

Rugari reassures us is all part of the “white knuckle” ride with Ange and is exactly where he expects us to be at this very moment.

He echoes the sentiments of fellow sports journalist Dan Orlowitz (a specialist in Japan’s J-League), who recently tweeted:

“Moments of sheer brilliance. Moments of utter frustration. Players need time to adjust to new tactics. Defence hasn’t worked itself out yet.

Ange Year 1, like clockwork!”

There’s no doubt that this is an accurate summary of where Celtic currently find themselves, so is Ange the kind of man who struggles under pressure?

Apparently not.

To quote him from his time in Japan “I enjoy the bit when everyone’s doubting me and they’re questioning what we’re trying to build”

Rugari expects that this is exactly how Ange will be feeling at this very moment at Celtic. In his opinion, some people will be looking at recent results and perhaps feel uneasy about them. Vince is confident Ange is relishing the challenge:

“This is the period where that belief in the team builds. This is when he does his best work. We talked about faith and faith isn’t an easy thing. You’re committing to something without certainty of outcome. That’s when the principles get bedded in.”

Profound words no doubt, or as we may say in a slightly shorter way around these parts, “Keep the Faith!”.

If we do, then we may just be on to something special.

Listen to the full interview with The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari on The Celtic Exchange Podcast.

The Celtic Exchange Podcast is broadcast weekly and also provide “The Final Whistle” show after every Celtic game. Find them on Spotify, Apple, Android and wherever you get your podcasts by searching “The Celtic Exchange

Link to Celtic Exchange’s Podcast: https://linktr.ee/thecelticexchange 


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