Record Breaking Season Will Put Ange In The Pantheon Of Great Celtic Managers

There are certain people who manage Celtic Football Club and go on to have their named etched in folkflore, their achievements remembered in song and their image depicted in brass and stone.

Willie Maley has the most famous song dedicated to him and has now been immortalised with a statue in his hometown of Newry. He led to Celtic to all of their first achievements, and was the club’s longest serving manager with a 50 year association with the club. He was simply ‘the man who made Celtic’.

Jock Stein was the next man to earn iconic status with the support. He revived Celtic from the doldrums and led the club to domestic trebles, nine league titles in a row, and famously to becoming champions of Europe before any club in Britain ever achieved the feat.The fact he achieved this with a squad of local players, playing groundbreaking attack football only adds to the mystique of the story. Stein is recognised with a stand and statue in his honour at Paradise, while he also enjoys songs that mention him and his achievements at various points.



The next legendary manager to lead the club was Martin O’Neill. Like Stein, he inherited a Celtic team that was demoralised and not used to winning. He hit the ground running, battering Rangers 6-2 in his first derby match in charge. He won the domestic treble in his first season, flipped Scottish football on its axis by leaving the club as the country’s dominant force despite the financial practices that were taking place across the city – and he took Celtic to their first European final for 33 years. O’Neill doesn’t have a well known song or statue, but he remains a club legend who is adored by the support and goes down as one of the most famous names in Celtic history.

7 Apr 2001: Martin O”Neill celebrates winning the league title after the Scottish Premier League game against St Mirren at Celtic Park. Celtic won the game 1 – 0. Photo: Tom Shaw /Allsport

The most recent legendary manager to take the reins at Parkhead was Brendan Rodgers. He arrived with Celtic the dominant force in Scottish football, but he propelled the club to new heights. After a four year absence, he returned Celtic to the Champions League group stages at the first time of asking. He then completed an Invincible domestic treble, eventually going 69 games without defeat. His departure will always sour his relationship with the support and for that reason he will never be remembered fondly, but with the fullness of time future historians will reflect on his 7 trophies from 7 and acknowledge him as a legendary figure in the dugout.

Ange Postecoglou is now in a position where he could put his name among the pantheon of Celtic greats. Should his team go on to set a new world record for points earned in a league campaign (need to win every remaining match), break the record for goals scored in a league season (need 15 from the last 6 matches) and equal Stein’s run of 23 consecutive league wins (need to win all remaining games) – then he will almost certainly be recognised in the same breath as those mentioned above. He has transformed this club, been hugely successful in the transfer market, and created a connection between the players and support the like of which has never been seen before. In his second season at the helm, he has the chance to win a domestic treble and back to back league titles. Like the other legendary figures, he also truly understands this club, its history and cultural significance too.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou lifts the Viaplay Cup at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It would be great for Ange to lead us there and beyond. Celtic always comes first, but there’s an opportunity for him to remembered in song, statue or stands in decades to come – just like Maley, Stein and others before him.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

Comments are closed.