Soccer-Australian trailblazer Postecoglou defies doubters with Celtic triumph

Reuters | Updated: 12-05-2022 10:11 IST | Created: 12-05-2022 10:07 IST
Soccer-Australian trailblazer Postecoglou defies doubters with Celtic triumph
Ange Postecoglou Image Credit: Wikipedia

Plenty of scorn was heaped on Ange Postecoglou when he was tasked last year with turning around an ailing Celtic but on Wednesday the enigmatic Australian bathed in acclaim as the Glasgow club sealed the Scottish league title.

Celtic clinched a 10th Premiership title in 11 seasons on the back of 31 matches unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at Dundee United, making Postecoglou the first Australian to deliver a championship to a major European club. Few would have tipped the transformation of the former European champions after they finished 25 points adrift of a resurgent Rangers side in the previous season.

Even fewer would have imagined an Australian with no management experience in Europe outside of a short stint at the Greek club Panachaiki would be the architect. "It's hard for me to comprehend," the 56-year-old told BBC.

"If you'd told me 12 months ago I'd be standing here, I wasn't even sure I'd be on this continent let alone as manager of this club." While Celtic's top brass saw something in Postecoglou, their offer of a rolling one-year deal showed a lack of faith.

And for all the former Australia coach's success at home and in Japan, his signing left bemused fans asking, "Ange who?" Pundits dismissed his CV and tipped he would struggle with the step up at a high-profile club and flounder with the European transfer market.

There were forecasts he would be sacked by last Christmas if unable to lift the team, a goal that seemed distant after they were quickly eliminated from the Champions League and lost their first league match to Hearts. Yet, a week before Christmas, Celtic claimed the League Cup with a 2-1 win over Hibernian and the fans started to rally behind him.

A 3-0 demolition of Rangers in the Old Firm derby in February put the Celtic top of the league, and neither coach nor team looked back from there. IMPRESSIVE BACKGROUND

While an anomaly in the coaching ranks of Europe, Postecoglou is hardly a "Ted Lasso" outsider, winning over players with charm and blind optimism like the American coach in the hit show. He has been ruthless in cleaning out under-performing teams before guiding them to success.

His overhaul of Brisbane Roar saw them dubbed 'Roarcelona' for their attractive style before they claimed back-to-back A-League titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Postecoglou performed a similar rebuild on the national Socceroos team, turning them into an attacking side after years of stodgy play under European managers and winning the continental title at the 2015 Asian Cup.

After securing their qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he stunned Australia by walking away from the team with the admission that he had ambitions to return to coaching clubs and break into top leagues. He was soon appointed manager of Yokohama F Marinos and took them to their first league title in 15 years in his second season at the Japanese club.

While Australia has produced world-class players like Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer, the country has never been known for its coaching. Even with Celtic's triumph, that may not change quickly.

But more Australian coaches may feel inspired to chase bigger dreams and head offshore after seeing another barrier broken by Postecoglou.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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