“I know they had a difficult year,” Ange Postecoglou

On Sunday evening Ange Postecoglou was named as the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year for second year in a row, becoming the first manager ever to retain this prestigious award which of course is voted for by his peers in the management game.

But as is always the case, Ange was quick to share the credit with his coaching and backroom staff who all contribute to the overall success of the group by provide the players with the best possible structure and set-up to go out and deliver on the park.

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And in reflecting on his award the Celtic manager in sharing the recognition with his staff also provided a brilliant insight that’s worthy of sharing today. John Kennedy, Gavin Strachan and Stevie Woods were all at Celtic when Ange arrived in June 2021 and he was well aware of the ‘difficult’ season that they had just been through.

Harry Kewell was later added to the staff and Stephen McManus joined Darren O’Dea in co-management roles at the Celtic B team and in doing so became an extension of the first team operation, with both teams training and playing in exactly the same way as Celtic build for the long term.

All these coaches together with the rest of the backroom staff don’t get the recognition that ‘the front man’ as Ange refers to himself, does but the success that the club is achieving is very much down to the collective group and not just Ange Postecoglou himself. That’s what the Celtic manager believes and is always keen to talk about.

“They have been outstanding. I know I’m the frontman and the manager is the one who gets the recognition. But these things are really recognition for the whole group. I have an outstanding staff here,” Ange said after picking up his PFA Manager of the Year award on Sunday night, as reported by Daily Record.

“The football department is led by John Kennedy, who is just an outstanding person and coach and leader. They are all outstanding people. I arrived here myself (in the summer of 2021) and I had the option of bringing people in.

John Kennedy. Photo for The Celtic Star by Vagelis Georgariou

“But when I looked at it, I know they had a difficult year, but the backdrop was nine outstanding years before then. John Kennedy was part of most of them. My feeling was they were outstanding coaches and I wanted them to be part of it. They had a difficult year but the way I saw it was that they had a huge motivation to sort of put it to bed and be successful at this football club. It’s a great credit to them. They are outstanding at their work and a credit to the football club.”

While Ange did arrive on his own and was quite happy to work with the coaching staff already at the club, he did after his first season in charge add Socceroos legend Harry Kewell to his staff after the former Leeds United and Liverpool attacker, who has plenty of Champions League experience, had a difficult time in lower league management in English football. Postecoglou saw something there that he reckoned could benefit his team, especially his forwards and throughout the season we have heard the likes of Diane Maeda and Liel Abada signing his praises.

“Harry has been good. He’s come in and he’s been willing to learn and develop within our structure. We had outstanding coaches in the group already who helped him initially and he’s found his feet and has contributed a lot as well.

“He’s been brilliant with the lads in terms of their individual development, but he’s also played a part in coaching the team. He’s really enjoying it as well,” Ange said.

But the manager’s praise goes beyond his talented and hard-working coaching staff. “There is also the rest of the different departments, the analysts, the sports science and medical staff, they have all played their roles. We have the best people involved at all levels. I’ve got a tremendous group around me.

“It’s not all about the players. They have been outstanding, but I’d think they would be the first ones to say it’s not just about them, it’s about everyone behind the scenes as well at all levels. They help them to perform to the levels they have this season and share in the rewards.”

Kyogo Furuhashi holds up the Scottish Premiership Player of the Year trophy he won on May 14, 2023.

And as for the players, with Kyogo deservedly picking up the PFA Scotland Player of the Year, the Celtic manager reckons that there’s a handful of other players in his team that could have also deserved to win that award on merit giving their outstanding contributions this season.

“It could have been more. I think that’s the biggest thing about our season. You don’t get to the levels we have this season on the back of one or two individuals.

“You could have had half a dozen players in there and there would not have been many arguments. The majority of our players have played outstanding football this season. It’s great for the guys who were nominated to get individual recognition but you can make a case of plenty of those guys.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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