Sign Here – Celtic’s can fund Ange’s Ambitions, Starting with a New Long Term Contract

When Chris Sutton used his Daily Record column today to call for the Celtic hierarchy to ensure they had a succession plan in place for the day Ange Postecoglou gets an offer he can’t refuse, it was enough to make you shudder.

Not the thought of Ange Postecoglou leaving any time soon – after all like many of you I’m more than comfortable in the belief the Celtic boss has a great deal of unfinished business at Celtic both on the park and behind the scenes – but because succession planning has been something of an alien concept to those who have been in charge at Celtic for a long time.

Celtic v Livingston – Callum McGregor is presented with a framed shirt by manager Ange Postecoglou after making 400 appearances for Celtic before the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Wednesday February 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

“Ange Postecoglou is going to leave Celtic at some point. That’s obvious. I just don’t feel it’ll be happening that soon. Nonetheless, Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson and the hierarchy need to start succession planning right now and keeping tabs on potential new managers because the interest is growing in their Aussie and it is not going away.

“If Postecoglou keeps building up Celtic at his current rate, an offer may easily arrive that the manager feels is hugely tempting. There could be offers this summer.

“It’s obvious Postecoglou likes a challenge, but for my money, it would need to be something that appeals hugely for him to go at this stage because he looks to be savouring life at Celtic and there appears an attachment with the club. I don’t know Postecoglou well. I’ve only met him a couple of times.

Celtic v Livingston – Ange Postecoglou applauds the fans after the final whistle in the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Wednesday February 1, 2023. Andrew Milligan

“But listening to him speak and watching how he goes about his business; he seems to really get the club. As I said earlier in the week, he doesn’t strike me as the type to disappear at a time that does not suit Celtic. There seems to be a substance to him. I don’t hear him speak about Celtic and the fans and his enjoyment of the job and think it’s merely lip service.

“I think it’s genuine. In addition, he looks to have only just started his work. Assessing the way he has recruited and has gone to the J-League to get guys who know his style, that tells me they are on board because he is also on board.

“However, the more he succeeds, the more people are going to look at him. That’s only natural. One thing to consider which may work in Celtic’s favour when it comes to English interest is a snobbery that could well come into play. My own feeling is that, unless it were a really top job south of the border that became available, the Aussie would not be interested.

“And, when I think of how the very top clubs in England would go about potentially filling posts in the modern game, I harbour lingering doubts about them looking towards Glasgow. Let me make an example. And it is just an example because I don’t want people thinking I’m advocating for or predicting the exit of Jurgen Klopp from Liverpool.

“But, if the German were to leave his post at Anfield tomorrow, I don’t think there are many who wouldn’t think Postecoglou could go into a club of that size and make an impact. He plays their attacking brand of football and has shown in Glasgow he can handle a big environment.

“My biggest question would be over those people filling the vacancy. In this current footballing world, would the owners of a Liverpool look to Scotland for an Australian who is the manager of Celtic? Or would they prefer to go down the perceived glamour route? For a Mauricio Pochettino type, for instance?

“I know it has happened in the past. Graeme Souness went straight from Rangers to Liverpool, but that was three decades ago. I feel mindsets have changed more recently. You could argue, correctly, there’s been a slight reversal with recent appointments. Graham Potter would not have been a huge name in European terms when he got the gig at Chelsea. Same, you could say, for Mikel Arteta going in at Arsenal.

“It’s clear that club hierarchy are maybe scratching a little more under surfaces nowadays. The times of just a big-name manager or a past player like a Frank Lampard or a Steven Gerrard aren’t just as prevalent. Nonetheless, I’d still have doubts. Of course, the majority of the smaller clubs in England’s top-flight would be interested. But would Postecoglou be interested in them? Would he really want to swap Celtic for a Wolves or a Brentford? Can’t see it myself. Leeds are big, but not as big as his current club.

“It may depend on timing, what the challenge is. Who is to say what floats Postecoglou’s boat. Right now, I sense it’s Celtic Of course, the Champions League may have a massive influence on how Postecoglou may or may not view things in the future. Given the way he goes about his business, he is going to win trophies on a regular basis for Celtic for as long as he’s there.

“However, it’s making a mark in Europe which holds the real appeal. Postecoglou has said himself how much he wants that. He’s cited models of clubs from smaller nations making an impact amongst the elite and spoken openly about the transfer model which can help Celtic to make it happen.

“But what if it doesn’t? Brendan Rodgers couldn’t stop winning trophies at Celtic and enjoyed accolades over his team’s group stage efforts in the Champions League when they first got into it. However, the next year, with no further progress, the plaudits dried up. The enormity of what it takes to make that impact hit home to him.”

26th November 2017, Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland; Scottish League Cup Final, Motherwell versus Celtic; Brendan Rodgers with the trophy

It may not happen any time soon but there will always be interest in Ange Postecoglou given the success he’s already had at Celtic, but should he push Celtic on in Europe and build a team that can compete at that level, then clubs far bigger than this season’s winners of the EPL sack race may well come calling.

Now on the field and off it Celtic appear to be in a far better place since Ange Postecoglou arrived, yet succession planning is something I think few of the Celtic support would believe me pay a lot of heed to sadly. Remember when Dermot Desmond touched on the process of appointing Ange? If not have a reminder.

“What Peter and I do is we put five names on a list that we feel could be good managers of Celtic. We’ve always had a list of five and interviewed five.

“In this case we had a list of five, Ange was on the list. I had no idea who Ange was, I couldn’t pronounce his name. Peter was insistent he was a person we should put on the list. He had a great record.

“We pursued another manager which is public. He was excellent to deal with, a person with integrity and ability, I couldn’t say enough good things about him but unfortunately for personal reasons he couldn’t go on with the position. I got that phone call at 12.30 on a Thursday and I made arrangements to speak to Ange at 5pm UK time, he was in Japan, to speak with him the next morning.

“In between that I had looked up and researched quite a bit about Ange and what he’d achieved, what his type of personality is. I’d watched that Craig Foster interview several times that he gave which showed he was a man of determination, integrity, passion, individualism.

“He was a leader so I was pleased to interview Ange. I got a good lot of background to Ange as well. I spoke to Ange about 5pm and had a long conversation with him. I had no doubt he was the person for Celtic in every way.

“He was the only person ever not to ask, ‘What is my budget? Can I bring X, Y and Z?’ He said he’d evaluate everything when he got there. I was convinced.”

I’m not sure about you, but that doesn’t sound like the sort of succession planning that say Brighton had in place when Graham Potter left and appointed Roberto De Zerbi.

The south coast club stated they always knew Potter would be tempted away but were already prepared for such an eventuality. They were ready to attract, not simply a coach who would be available, but one who would also be the right fit to continue the exemplary work of Potter. They chose Se Zerbi, but you can be certain they had others to choose from.

Desmond almost sounded proud of the five names approach, but it sounded an amateurish approach for a club the size of Celtic.

New Newcastle Head Coach Eddie Howe pictured with the club shirt at his unveiling press conference at St. James Park on November 10, 2021. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

After all, as much as Eddie Howe was the first pick, we know names like Roy Keane were also close to the conversation at the time – and succession planning is not simply about having a list of names, it’s about ensuring that list is a fit for a club who play football a certain way.

As such Chris Sutton is right to send a shot across the boughs of the Celtic board. They may well be comfortable that Ange Postecoglou will remain at Celtic and not be tempted by Leeds United – after all they were kind enough to have perhaps briefed a certain Daily Record journalist of just that this week – but are they prepared for such an eventuality further down the line?

If they have five names on a list, who have managerial approaches as far apart as Eddie Howe and Roy Keane, do we now pass that baton from the likes of Desmond and Lawwell to a recruitment team who know which players fits Postecoglou’s system – or indeed the man himself -so in turn may well know exactly what coaches will ensure the good work carried out by the current Celtic manager can be passed on to the next guy, or do we revert back to the choices of Desmond and Lawwell?

 Ange Postecoglou with the Glen’s manager of the season award at Lennoxtown, on May 06, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group) 

We got it right with Ange Postecoglou, but let’s not pretend that was more by accident than design. Succession planning for players and managers is now a crucial aspect of staying ahead of the game and developing your club, it shouldn’t be reactive, it should be pro-active.

Chris Sutton has pointed that out this morning and those who make the big decisions at Celtic should pay his words some heed. With those incredible Interim results announced last night, Celtic are in a great place financially and much of that is down to the impact the manager has made on the club from top to bottom.

In considering what to do with this new found wealth the Celtic Board should surely be looking a offering Ange Postecoglou a new, lucrative long term contract that if signed would be celebrated by the Celtic support and would push the club on even further.

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.


  1. The only succession planning when Liewell is around is where is his next million coming from… the real succession needed if Ange proves as successful as he might possibly be .. would be for him to take over from Liewell !

    • The only thing certain from this is that none of us not privy to the inner workings of the boardroom have the slightest clue about succession planning and the other 3 names on that list, saying that, Nicholson seems to be far more proactive than Lawwell and I’m certain they are keeping tabs on future coaching prospects.
      Despite his success at Newcastle at the moment, there’s no guarantee Eddie Howe would have been successful, Ange is a single minded one off in my opinion and we should simply enjoy him whilst he’s leading us.