Countdown Underway With The Stakes Sky High

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In less than 18 months Ange Postecoglou will have faced up to three opposing managers in the Glasgow derby.

When the Australian took charge of Celtic he inherited a demoralised club, one that had finished 25 points adrift in a two horse race.  With some getting more joy from the Irish Lotto than following the football fortunes.

The consequences of that were huge. All loan players departed, captain Scott Brown was on his way to Aberdeen while Kris Ajer, Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham all had their eyes on moves elsewhere.

With Celtic without an away win since February, Postecoglou took his side to Ibrox at the end of August 2021, there were no away fans to back the hoops but the home side were led by Gary McAllister while Steven Gerrard self-isolated. Postecoglou never once faced up to the former England hero.

Celtic lost 1-0 that day but it was a turning point, over the final days of the transfer window Christie and Ajer got their moves to England as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Jota and Giorgos Giakoumakis joined Celtic, the first two on loan.

The delayed derby on February 2 was a special night for Celtic fans, pivotal to the destination of the title. Postecoglou’s side went into the match two points behind, a 3-0 win sent them top of the table, on route to winning the title with the momentum running into the new season with a nine point lead built up when the season resumes after the World Cup Finals.

That February night was Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first defeat since replacing Steven Gerrard, when he suffered a heavier defeat in September the writing was on the wall for the Dutchman. The two Glasgow clubs were heading in different directions.

With a couple of exceptions the players in the Celtic side for Ibrox on January 2 will be completely different to the ones that lost there last August. A 2-1 victory across the city in April confirmed the turning of the tide with Postecoglou having a vice like grip on domestic matters. During 2022 Celtic have lost just once in the SPFL.

It looks like Michael Beale will be in the home dug-out when Celtic go first footing, after a short spell in charge of QPR the 42-year-old has the task of having to get the better of the vastly experienced Australian.

Postecoglou has put his stamp all over Celtic, winning derby matches tends to have that effect in Scotland where most of the league is playing for third prize.

The next derby is a month away, with four matches to be played before kick-off at Ibrox, but already the countdown is underway with the stakes sky high.

Photo by Unsplash

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