Postecoglou: “He was a really good coach but as a man we didn’t have that link,” Christopher Jullien

Players come and go and often it’s the case that a transfer allows a player to go on and further their careers elsewhere, as the recent examples of Giorgos Giakoumakis and Josip Juranovic demonstrates. In other situations the player may well be reluctant to leave Celtic but perhaps due to a change of manager, he is regarded as surplus to requirements by the new guy in charge. That as they say is football.

Ange Postecoglou inherited a mess in June 2021 and immediately set about building his own side, and a big part of that has been the defensive trio of Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt with all three pretty much guaranteed starters if fit.

Jullien worked hard to regain fitness after his knee injury

Christopher Jullien cost Celtic around £7m from French side Toulouse and had been a success under Neil Lennon, scoring he winning goal in the League Cup Final in December 2019 and just before that the winner against Lazio in the Europa League at Celtic Park. It’s fair to say that the Frenchman was a popular figure amongst the Celtic support.

When he collided with the goalpost at the end of December 2020 in a league match against Dundee United at Celtic Park Celtic’s terrible season took another turn for the worse. Jullien was stretchered off and was out of action for over a year.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

By that time Ange Postecoglou had arrived, had signed his preferred central defensive pairing of CCV and Starfelt and had regained possession of the League Cup from double cup winners St Johnstone – and by the start of February was about to return to the top of the league, looking down on theRangers.

For a player who hadn’t played football in over a year breaking into this Celtic side with real momentum and sense or purpose was always going to be a tall order. And even if Jullien had been fit when Ange Postecoglou arrived at the club there is no guarantee that the Celtic manager would have decided to build his team’s defensive unit around the Frenchman, given the style of football that he demands from his central defenders.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 24: Christopher Jullien of Celtic scores his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League group E match between Celtic FC and Lazio Roma at Celtic Park on October 24, 2019 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Speaking to The Scottish Mail on Sunday Christopher Jullien, now back in French football playing for Montpellier, reflects on his last year at Celtic, the lack of a relationship he had with Ange Postecoglou and his regrets at not getting given the chance to say his goodbyes to the Celtic support at Celtic Park.

“I came back from France and I could see the coach was trying to implement new ideas. But I couldn’t take part,” Jullien recalled. “As he’s said, he doesn’t stop! He started on his way and never looked back.

“I had some conversations at the beginning about how he sees the game. It was fascinating. I can say he is one of the best trainers I have witnessed. But the man himself, we just didn’t click.”

 Ange Postecoglou, manager of Celtic shakes hands with Christopher Jullien after the Scottish Cup match between Celtic and Raith Rovers at Celtic Park on February 13, 2022. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Jullien was desperate to get minutes on the park but other than in a cup match against Raith Rovers that just never materialised as Ange Postecoglou invariably stuck to his preferred partnership of CCV and Starfelt.

“Sometimes my teammates would say why not go and see him? And I’m like ‘Man, what do you want me to say? The team is winning every game three or four-zero, you’re winning everything’.

“He was a really good coach but as a man we didn’t have that link. I understand that management is difficult. It’s not just 11 players and keeping everyone involved is hard because players can be impatient, emotional.

 Christopher Jullien of Celtic (L) celebrates with the trophy following victory in the Betfred Cup Final between Rangers FC and Celtic FC at Hampden Park on December 08, 2019. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“I played just once. It was a cup game against a second division team and I felt I could have had more time but afterwards I said ‘thanks coach’. Before the season finished I went to see him, not to ask to play, but to see how he found me in training and my level.

“After we finished the meeting he said: ‘If we are champions I will probably give you some minutes’. It didn’t happen. It felt like he’d told me something and done the contrary.”

Here’s that game against Lazio…

And of course the League Cup Final win over theRangers in December 2019…

GLASGOW DERBY UNDER THE LIGHTS ON FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 7PM….CELTIC V theRangers

Don’t forget there’s some Friday Night Football under the lights this coming Friday when Fran Alonso’s title challenging Celtic side take on theRangers at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie with the match only open to Celtic supporters.  Celtic are a point ahead of theRangers at the moment and three behind Glasgow City who we play a week on Sunday, also over at Airdrie.  A win against theRangers takes Celtic to the top of the league and a win the following Sunday will really put Celtic in the driving seat for our first ever SWPL1 Title. Get along and support the team, for  full ticket details click below…COYGIG!

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who 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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