2018 saw Celtic win a seventh consecutive Scottish Premiership title as their dominance north of the border just kept on going with little sight of abating. Finishing 12 points ahead of bitter rivals Glasgow Rangers, Celtic were way ahead of the blue side of the city and then manager Brendan Rodgers was leaving Rangers fans with little to cheer.
Fast forward to 2021 and it is Celtic’s rebuild looking painful for fans of the club as they have struggled in pre-season and on 28th July were dumped out of the Champions League qualifying stages for a fourth consecutive season.
Celtic’s Rebuild Looking Painful as Situation Mirrors Rangers’ Struggles
Celtic Will Need to Show Patience
After Rangers Premiership title victory at the end of the 2020/21 campaign Celtic were left looking bereft of direction and a managerial search started with the likes of Eddie Howe and even Jose Mourinho mentioned as possible contenders for what is a very hot seat in Scottish football.
The man finally given the task of rebuilding the fallen giants of Scottish football was Ange Postecoglou, an Australian coach who has managed the Australian national side as well as in Japan and Australia with Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar. With all due respect to those club sides, managing Celtic is a huge step up for the former Australian rules football player.
A bigger name was expected but never came and already the new manager is facing pressure as his team were shown the exit door of the Champions League by Danish side FC Midtjylland leading to a heated post-match interview between Postecoglou and BBC reporter Liam MacLeod.
MacLeod suggested to the Celtic boss that the qualifying round exit to Midtjylland was a ‘catastrophe’ and it was a comment that seemed to irritate the new manager as he replied;
“It’s pretty strong language mate. I don’t know what your version of catastrophic is but it certainly doesn’t fit my definition of what happened tonight.”
TalkSport’s Alan Brazil felt that the response from the Australian was too defensive and warned the new boss to be careful of coming across as ‘out of his depth’ as the Scottish media will just sharpen their attacks if he responds in such a way to defeats.
Charlie Nicholas’ Anger at Celtic
Former Celtic legend Charlie Nicholas has shown little patience with the new regime at Celtic and the Daily Record reported him as referring to the new managers’ reign as being a:
already with the club leaving the new manager with little better than a:
”Reserve side to work with.”
It will be of concern to Celtic fans that so early in his tenure as Celtic manager that Postecoglou has already questioned his own assertiveness over transfers. He has been unlucky in so much that out of the five signings he has made, two are in quarantine due to coronavirus regulations but then two others, the young pairing from English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, just sat on the bench in Denmark.
The Australian has been willing to take the brunt of any blame but his comments reported in The Guardian will be ringing alarm bells:
“I take responsibility. I’m the person who has been put in charge. We haven’t got players in, I obviously haven’t done a good enough job convincing people we needed to bring people in. I’m not going to shy away from it. I don’t say that because I’m some kind of martyr, I just think that’s my responsibility, that’s why I was brought in.”
The concern will be that if he is saying he has been unable to convince the board over new signings, what relationship does he hold with the board and why has he been unable to convince them. Does it come down to cost or not identifying players that fit with what the hierarchy of the club want?
Celtic’s Rebuild Looking Painful and Long
On Saturday 31st July Postecoglou and his new Celtic team take on Hearts on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership and it will be then that fans and media alike will start to get some idea of the task facing the new manager. Pre season is always difficult to make too many judgements upon but the club do look under strength, under funded and Celtic’s rebuild looks likely to be a very painful one indeed.