Interview: Celtic fans give us their thoughts on how everything is going so far this season

Craig Hanson 1 month ago

Ange Postecoglou might just be the man to lead the Glasgow club back to brighter days

Celtic fans' dreams of a tenth consecutive Scottish league title were dashed last season when Steven Gerrard led bitter rivals Rangers to their first crown since 2011, completing their long return from the depths of the fourth tier to the top of the football pyramid. To add insult to injury, they did it in style, ending the league campaign unbeaten and on a club record 102 points, 25 clear of Celtic. It was clear that the club needed to change direction unless it wanted to see Rangers go on a similarly long title winning run of its own. There were numerous problems on and off the pitch at Celtic Park going into a crucial summer for the club.

Former Australia national team coach Ange Postecoglou joined in June after the club had seemingly engaged in a long, drown out attempt to bring in former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. The Aussie brings with him a modern, forward thinking approach to football but lacks experience outside of his native Australia, Greece and Japan. Moving to an institution the size of Celtic with the pressure such a role can bring was certainly a leap for Ange, but thus far it seems to be one he's taking in his stride. He has work to do to repair the very deep rooted problems at the club but performances and results are starting to click into place. Things can change so quickly in football.

We wondered how optimistic Celtic fans were about their new coach, the playing squad and their hopes for this season. After such a calamitous campaign last time around, how long will it take to make things right and is Ange the man to get Celtic back to a level about which their fans can be proud? We caught up with Paul from Celtic Fans TV and Craig from Celts Are Here to try to get some answers to these questions. Here's what they had to say:

Q. What went wrong last season exactly to cause Celtic to fall so far behind rivals Rangers?
Paul: I think I’d need a 10,000 word essay to get to the bottom of everything that went wrong last season. Ultimately, the club’s decision to bring back Neil Lennon as full-time manager in 2019 cost us. I’ve spoken to a lot of supporters who felt he wasn’t the right man for the job. He had his spell as Celtic manager and since then had unsuccessful spells at Bolton & Hibs. Last season was the culmination of a long line of dreadful decisions made by the Celtic board. 

Q. Has Neil Lennon in any way damaged his reputation at the club or is he still held in high regard among fans?

Craig: Neil Lennon has his place in Celtic history. I can’t speak to the long term legacy but he’s done himself no favours since leaving Celtic by continually deflecting blame for last season. When the dust settles he’ll always be held in high regard by the majority.

Q. What was the general reaction among fans to Ange Postecoglou's appointment and how has his work been received thus far?

Paul: The initial reaction was one of shock after the three month pursuit of Eddie Howe fell apart. But after we did our research on Ange and looked at what he’d achieved, I think the overwhelming majority of us really bought into the appointment. His work so far has been really encouraging and even after a few of the poor results we’ve had early on this season you can see the supporters understand that he was dealt a terrible hand with the mess left behind from the previous regime. We understand we have to be patient, Ange doesn’t have all the tools he needs yet to implement his style to its full capacity.

Q. How is the atmosphere around the club and the fanbase right now? Is it all doom and gloom or is there optimism in the air?

Craig: There’s lots of optimism. It can vary from game to game but because we’re going through a major rebuild we’re going to have our ups and downs. Celtic fans have bought into the manager and they have a new hero in Kyogo. 

Q. One player who has certainly captured everyone's attention this season has indeed been Kyogo Furuhashi. How impressed are you with the start he's had and what do you see in his future at the club?

Paul: I’ve been blown away by the impact of Kyogo. I’m struggling to think of a signing that’s had such an immediate impact in recent years. His energy and attitude for the game is unique, and his movement is top class. He’s infectious and has become an instant hero with the Celtic support. He’s only been here a few months and he’s already indispensable in this Celtic team. He is integral to Ange’s style of play and that’s highlighted by the games he missed through injury in September. He is vital for this team to be successful. 

Q. Apart from Kyogo, who else has impressed during this early part of the season?

Craig: Earlier this season it was Liel Abada, but he's cooled off which is expected considering he’s a young player. Jota has been a revelation since coming in, a winger on loan from Benfica with an option to buy, he’s a very tidy and clever player. Jota’s assist for Kyogo against Ferencvaros showed incredible vision.

Q. What are the fans' expectations this season? What would be considered a successful campaign?

Paul: The bare minimum expectations of the Celtic support in any season are to win the league title. Finishing second is last in Glasgow. Having said that, I think the supporters are aware that there’s a lot of work to be done and things don’t just transform at the click of Ange’s fingers. It’s going to take time and we have to be as patient as we possibly can be. The most important thing is that we believe in what the manager is doing and back the team 100%.

Celtic are currently four points behind leaders Rangers in the Scottish Premiership with 10 games played. Next up for them is a trip to 5th place Hibernian on Wednesday and a home game against Livingston on Saturday. Then next week they go away to Hungary to face Ferencvaros for the second time, in a game they must win if they want to have any chance of getting out of their very tough Europa League group. 

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