• Christian Marchetti

Is Ange already under pressure at Celtic?

We all knew the pressure that Ange Postecoglou would be under at Celtic to deliver, but none of us would've thought he would be feeling it already.


Taking charge of one of the biggest clubs in Scotland reeling from their bitterly disappointing league campaign last time out was never going to be easy.


But it has hardly been a welcome introduction for the 55-year-old.


After an early exit in the Champions League at the hands of Awer Mabil's Midtjylland and a loss in their league opener at Hearts, Celtic are already on the back foot in their pursuit of success.


The European exit meant they haven't qualified for the group stages of Europe's biggest club competition since the 2017-18 season.

It hasn't been an ideal start for Postecoglou at Celtic.


Meanwhile, Rangers opening day win over Livingston meant Postecoglou's side are already three points behind in the title race.


Usually, defeats in the season's opening weeks aren't looked into as relevant to a long-term title race.


Still, when you're trying to cut down a 25-point deficit from last season, every point counts.


Add to that a hectic schedule, now compounded by the fact Celtic will now try and negotiate qualifiers to make the Europa League group stage.


A much anticipated Old Firm derby also awaits them at the end of this month, and things could unravel quickly for Australia's managerial protege.


Australians will always hope for Ange to be a success, given the ramifications it could have on the game down under, but do Celtic fans believe in Postecoglou too?


The consensus amongst fans at Parkhead is that Postecoglou's ideas and philosophy are exciting.


The supporters feel that the board should be doing all they can to back him in the transfer window.


That backing has come to an extent, but many supporters have grown frustrated with how long it has taken to acquire new signings.

Celtic fans are fuming with the board for the club's lack of preparation for this season (Andrew Milligan)


Meanwhile, the uncertainty surrounding the futures of stars such as Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Éduoard has also been a concern.


It was well-known that Norwegian defender Ajer was always going to leave the club this summer.


He eventually switched allegiances for Premier League club Brentford on the same day Celtic signed his replacement Carl Starfelt just two weeks ago.


But Postecoglou had to throw his new defender into the starting lineup for Saturday's defeat to Hearts.


The Swede was coming out of a quarantine period, though, but Postecoglou had no choice, mainly due to a lack of depth at centre-back.


Postecoglou even suggested after the Midtjylland defeat that he may not have been forceful enough with the board concerning new signings.


He is keen to ensure that there is no bad blood between him and the hierarchy, though.


After that opening day loss, he said that "people are trying to make out there’s some disconnect there".


Those "people" Postecoglou talks about are undoubtedly the Scottish media, who have fun prodding the new manager to react to their patronising questions at press conferences.


It's pretty astonishing how people in Scottish football can perceive Australians as the ones out of their depth.


After all, Australia has made the last four World Cups whilst Scotland hasn't featured since 1998.


The ex-Socceroos boss hasn't been afraid to remind people in Scotland that Australians are relevant in the football world.


He reminded reporters before the opener against Hearts that he is "still on the same planet" as them.



But, as talkSPORTS's Alan Brazil mentioned last week, Postecoglou should be careful and not "pick a fight with them already".


However, the ex-Yokohama manager is inclined to tone down over-the-top reports in the media.


He had to do this very often as the Socceroos manager, and he won't back down.


The real talking will have to start on the pitch.


That means bouncing back immediately with a win on Thursday in the first leg of Celtic's Europa League qualifier against FK Jablonec of the Czech Republic.


Jablonec manager Petr Rada doesn't seem to understand what all the fuss is about surrounding Postecoglou at the moment anyway.


His assistant manager Zdenek Klucky watched both of Celtic's legs against Midtjylland and believed they are a better side than last season.


It's hard to compare Postecoglou's side to Neil Lennon's team of last season, given the relatively small sample size of matches.


Still, the assessment that Celtic are playing good football isn't far off at all.


Celtic want to be on the front foot and dominate from the off, as is Postecoglou's outlook on how his teams should play the game.


Their defeats have often been more unlucky as opposed to woeful as opponents have capitalised on missed chances and sucker-punched on the counter or from set pieces.


Missing chances aren't classified as unlucky, but you'd imagine Postecoglou would be pleased his side are showing promising signs by creating opportunities.


But they need to reap the rewards of it, something they've struggled for so far.


The Celts were cruising in that first leg against Midtjylland when new signing Liel Abada put them 1-0 up.

Abada celebrates his first goal for Celtic and the first of the Postecoglou era.


However, a ludicrous red card by Nir Bitton allowed the Danish side to get back into the game and clinch a crucial equaliser in Scotland.


In Denmark, Celtic again went ahead thanks to a stunning volley by captain Callum McGregor.


But their inexperience - highlighted by a defence with an average age of 21 - meant they couldn't handle the pressure of a crucial lead and were eventually undone by a comeback from the home side.


That inexperience has come from Postecoglou having to blood younger players whilst he waits for more experienced signings, as mentioned above.


But Postecoglou isn't one to give up under pressure.


After all, his Yokohama side was facing relegation in his first season before he completely turned things around to lead the club to the J-League title.


Celtic isn't in a "crisis" anyway, despite what reporters in Scotland might suggest.


Still, there's no doubt Postecoglou would have envisioned a better start.


Those in Scotland might have their doubts, but make no mistake, Postecoglou won't be hiding behind excuses.


This job is the biggest challenge of his professional career so far, and he knows it.