SATIRE: After a tough start to life as manager of Celtic FC, Ange Postecoglou is back to give True Crime News Weekly readers an exclusive direct insight into how he is handling all the pressure of being the Big Boss of a Big Club.
Mate, I want to talk about culture.
As a Greek-Aussie, it’s something I hold pretty close to my heart. Culture, to me, is music, sport, and other demonstrations of human achievement passed down from generation to generation.
I tried to explain this to the Celtic fans, people who love the team and maybe think that because I’m not a Scotsman, I don’t understand the ethos and history of the club.
I wanted them to see that football is in my blood, in my DNA, originating from my family, my father, my uncles, that it’s a part of me, stretching all the way back to my forebears.
“Oh, so you’ve got four, have you?” came the response. “That’s good, one more than Goldilocks.”
That’s the thing about the Celtic fans, mate. They’re clever. Smart arses, but clever.
Or the great man himself, Socrates: “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”. These are ideas and theories about human nature, ethics, moral dilemmas, hard work and accomplishment; contemplations which can only improve the player’s state of mind and potential self-improvement.
Since I’ve been here however, coaching my team in the Scottish Premier League, I’ve realised the philosophical attitude of how football is played can be summed up by a local quote, attributed to an anonymous drunk looking for trouble on a Saturday night: “If at first you don’t succeed, two with the fists and one with the heid”.
The Scottish game isn’t about artistry and creativity, and it isn’t based on short passing and movement, working the ball through the channels and maintaining possession. It’s classic long ball, lumping it up the park, out-muscling your opponent, winning it in the air, creating chaos and hoping for mistakes.
Well you know what, mate? F*ck that, if I wanted to be involved in that sort of garbage, I’d coach Ancient Greek wrestling.
My team is going to play football the way it should be, the beautiful game providing joy; passionate, but with an emphasis on teamwork, 11 players working together in the common good, where the talented players assist and improve the less talented, making them better, everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards.
Who said that?
No, it wasn’t Plato, Democritus or Epicurus, it was the great Liverpool coach Bill Shankly.
That’s right, a Scotsman.
My players at Celtic have it in them.
In their DNA. And I’m going to find it.
The press here are already on my back. Our season hasn’t started great. A crisis, they’re calling it.
Ok, I get it, two wins in our last seven matches, three successive away losses in the league including an unlucky single goal loss to Rangers has resulted in us lying mid table, six points shy of our rivals on the other side of the city.
Obviously, that’s not ideal, but this is early doors. 12 games in, hardly a crisis, not yet.
Our ‘friends’ with the laptops have taken to calling my style of play, ‘Angeball’. Roughly translated as ‘we score 3, you score 4’, ignoring the fact that we’re making chances – 23 shots on goal in our last league game, hitting the woodwork three times, all of which could’ve easily gone in. Then, different story.
Just don’t mention our most recent game in Europe against the Krauts of Leverkusen. They scored 4, and we could only score … nothing. “GAMOTO ME,” I muttered to myself on the touchline!
Not helping either, is the injury situation, with at least four first team starters currently on the treatment table, including captain Callum McGregor and Kyogo Furuhashi who prior to doing his knee whilst on international duty was scoring at almost a goal a game.
Wait until he’s back. Then you’ll see what Angeball really is.
After a brief honeymoon period and a couple of 6-0 wins when I was hailed, hailed as the saviour of the club, the backbiting and badmouthing has started.
Despite the fact I’ve brought in 12 – count ‘em – new faces – I still have to face criticism that I’m not my own man, I’m too timid, a yes man, that I kowtow to the board, I’m not passionate enough, inexperienced, don’t understand the ‘culture’, how the game’s played here in Scotland.
I’m my own man. I have to be, I still don’t have my own backroom staff, my ‘assistants’, the ones I inherited, are like two predatory vultures, waiting for me to fuck up, to pull the pin or have it pulled out for me, so that they – Kennedy and Strachan, two specialists in failure, can take over.
Isn’t gonna happen.
I’m a Greek-Australian mate, a combination of Greek aesthetic principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty with Aussie toughness and hard-nosed pragmatism.
Yeah, I can see how the Scottish game is played all right. It’s just that I don’t like it and won’t have my teams playing that way.
I want fluidity. Full backs pushing forward creating space for the midfield. Playing out from the back, creativity, movement, generating chances.
Sure, we’ll make a few mistakes whilst my guys are learning the system, but judge me over a longer period, the entire season, not just 12 games.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. And who wouldn’t be inspired by that famous tale of Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce victory, yelling out that triumphant word – “Nike!”? And no, he wasn’t talking about the latest replica kit. We love our Adidas!
To be fair, after that, he dropped stone dead.
Stick with me, I’ll come good. You see if I don’t.
In the words of Aristotle, probably the greatest of all Greek philosophers: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet“.
Game on. I won’t take my eye off the ball, not unless it’s 15 metres in the air being launched down the length of Celtic Park.
Mate, that simply won’t happen. Like they say in Athens, “we ate the donkey, just the tail is left.”
I realise that’s a tad obscure but it actually makes sense in Greek. Ee-Or everyone until next time.