Why Scottish Football owes Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic a Debt of Gratitude

With all the political wrangling, accusations and finger-pointing which has occurred since Ange Postecoglou arrived on Scottish shores, many things have been overlooked and forgotten, or, in many cases, deliberately omitted.

In my last Celtic Star article, I stated that Celtic are constantly undermined simply because of who we are, and what we represent. We are viewed as political enemies, lepers even, cannon fodder for bitter hacks and media pundits alike, unwelcome in Scottish football because of our desire to celebrate our cultural and spiritual roots, and how successfully we have evolved. We are rarely, if ever, given credit for what we bring to the table, and the game in general. Now there’s the rub.

Gordon Strachan and Mark McGhee starred in that successful Aberdeen side from the 1980s. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Should those denizens of foresight, integrity and justice care to peel the war paint of hostility and hopelessness from their ever-narrowing eyes, they might see a rainbow, rather than dark, sodden and, emulating the astute observation of the brilliant Paolo Nutini, iron skies.

They may encounter a club which has dragged the rest of Scottish football up by the bootstraps, bringing flair and entertainment to the long-suffering fans (of any side) in this country, fans bereft of long-standing joy since the great days of Fergie’s Furies up in the Granite City. Legends such as, Leighton, the rock-steady twins of Miller and McLeish, Billy Stark, Gordon Strachan, ‘Dingus’ McGhee and Steve Archibald who furthered his exotic career at Spurs and Barcelona.

Sure, Rangers climbed the heady heights in the ‘90s and into the early 2000s, conquering all before them with a truly international squad-ron of stars ranging from, Terry Butcher and the Steven(s), to ‘Butch’ Wilkins, ‘Attila’ Hateley and the deeply flawed but sometimes brilliant, Paul Gascoigne.

However, can you spot the difference between those two over-achieving outfits? One was built at the hands of a Stein-esque genius, honed in ‘granite’ if you will, and, like our Lions, Scottish born and bred and assembled on a shoestring.

The other? Excuse me for a second, I need to go and sharpen my pencil!

The other was built by an unscrupulous ‘man of steel’, if you will, was honed within the England International World Cup set-up purchased with crooked, tax-dodging, under-the table, dirty money, a scenario which sent that particular club into administration, subsequently liquidating Rangers Football Club having poached players they simply could not afford by fair means, adopting foul instead, as was ultimately determined in the Supreme Court in London.

Whilst Aberdeen beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup-Winners Cup (that was the last time Real Madrid lost in a European final and they have been in many since), followed by the Super Cup with honours, Rangers did not, they were only successful domestically, even with all their filthy lucre, dodgy dealing and side contracts before disappearing into obscurity.

So really, even with all their ill-gotten trophies and titles, they will never be viewed with the same regard as that wonderful Aberdeen side which, thankfully for Scotland, didn’t merely split the Glasgow giants, but dominated them with their own brand of fearless and tactical football. Yes, they were a joy to watch at times.

Which brings me back to the point. This current Celtic side, one which threatens to dominate the game for some time to come is reminiscent of great teams past, Hibs’ Famous Five, our own Lisbon Lions, Aberdeen’s Princes of Pittodrie, even Dundee United of the glittering 80s era, MON’s Sevillians, and yes, Brendan Rodgers’ class of 2016 onwards.

So, instead of looking for an excuse to besmirch and denigrate such majestic talent, why not celebrate the fact that your team has learned from us? How? Well for example, Celtic play electric, free flowing, attacking football, either home, or away.

Others desperately strive to emulate our spectacular style, often raising their game to achieve parity. I’ve seen no more than decent players excel when faced with a CCV, Calmac, Jota or a Kyogo. It’s often said that when Celtic are the opposition, the combatants play out of their skin. Surely that must be a good thing as a supporter?

If you are not in the same cash league, do a Fergie. Or a Jim McLean. Teach your players better methods of play, up their fitness levels, instil an iron will and belief within your squad. If you’re a director of a club, use your finances wisely, and instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, decorate your own house with your own varied and exciting style of artwork.

Ange said as much! Instead of bitching about our resources, cash or talent, bust your backsides to keep up, or overtake. It’s a common fact that raw energy, craft and a willingness to succeed can overcome skill. Not always, but it can be done. Did you see Aberdeen v Real Madrid in Gothenburg, or against, then West German titans, Bayern Munich previously? That game at Pittodrie (3-2 Dons) will rank as one of the most exciting and inspirational matches I’ve witnessed in over 60 years of watching football. Watching the Tannadice Terrors horse Barca home and away back in ‘87 made us all United supporters-for a week anyway.

Celtic v Barcelona anyone? We couldn’t lace Barca’s boots in either the financial or skill stakes, but we beat them, twice. I was there and cried like a baby when Larsson’s Bhoys dumped Ronaldinho’s phenomenons out of Europe in the Nou Camp, proving that if you put in the effort and don’t throw in the towel you might not necessarily change the world, but perhaps your own corner of it.

When Aberdeen went down south to challenge Kenny Dalglish’s dream-team, Liverpool, they were put to the sword. A 4-0 trouncing at Anfield followed by a narrow, but convincing 0-1 reverse at Pittodrie convinced Fergie that he had work to do, and with great effort he built his future achievements on this! He took the lessons of a great side and applied them to his own, and the rest is history.

Mick Beale, Manager of theRangers and Ange Postecoglou look on during the Viaplay Cup Final  at Hampden on February 26, 2023 (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Take note Michael Beale, Robbie Neilson or any aspiring manager seeking to deliver the unexpected against a higher model, ie, Celtic. Take accountability for your tactics, values and, crucially, lack of good judgement in pre, and after-match pressers. Better men have gone before you, so stop complaining about the fact your house is still under construction whilst other families are enjoying their jelly and ice cream in their fancy gardens in the secure homes of their own prudent making.

Learn from the best, and be grateful you’re on a learning curve, one which others may not be so fortunate to ever ride.

Hail Hail!

Eddie Murray


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About Author

Eddie Murray – I Grew up with the Lions, coming from a Celtic-daft family. Played against Jinky once! Paradise was my second home and Dalglish was my hero. A long term Brisbane Bhoy for many years and have been blogging here for many years. Written a book on Ange/ Brisbane Roar/ Celtic which awaits publication. Writing on other genres as I speak. Top moments? Interviewing Cesar, Wispy, Cairney, The Maestro, Alan Thompson.