After his broadcast media conference yesterday where it took five minutes to get around to talk about Spurs it was straight to the point with the daily newspapers for Ange Postecoglou.
Embargoed until 10.30pm the full transcript reads like a war of attrition for the one word or phrase that could be ceased to deliver the ANGE: I’M OFF headline but the Celtic boss knows the game well enough to side-step the traps when the same question is asked in half a dozen different ways.
It would be a shock if Spurs hadn’t profiled the current Celtic boss, if they did they’d discover an unconventional manager who does things his way no matter what ‘the mood in the room is’.
Postecoglou does his own thing, his gut and instinct has served him pretty well in his career to date and those faculties will be in play if he hears from Tottenham.
Without doubt he is his own man, there doesn’t appear to be any UK journalist that he is close to, that he keeps sweet. He doesn’t need that level of reassurance.
He does have a few in Australia that he respects, that he retains contact with but if he decides to leave Celtic there is likely to be simultaneous announcements from the two clubs involved, almost everything else is guess work with only one man in control.
LET’S ADDRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT LINK WITH SPURS?
Look, I understand the question. It’s of interest to people and that’s understandable, but it’s just not in my world.
It’s not the first time it has happened this year and I have been pretty consistent in making people understand what I am about and what I am like.
I’ve got too big a game on Saturday for this football club to be contemplating or addressing any matter other than us being ready for Saturday.
IS IT A STRUGGLE TO STOP THE SPECULATION OVERWHELMING THE CUP FINAL
No, because within here there is no talk about it. I get it there is more in your work space. You think, ‘jeez, it’s everywhere.’ But not here. In here we are talking about Saturday and talking about being ready and training and making sure we have an opportunity to do something special in terms of our season.
It doesn’t penetrate. So it’s not as distracting as people may think it is.
Obviously I have to address questions from the outside, but internally it’s not like people are walking around thinking about anything other than being ready for Saturday.
WILL THAT CHANGE AFTER SATURDAY? WILL YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THINGS AFTER THE CUP FINAL?
There are a million things to think about after Saturday, including the holiday I am going to have. Again, to look beyond that, I just can’t do. I cannot see anything past the game because that’s what I have always done. I mean, this is not the first time this has happened this year.
And I think I have been pretty consistent in saying it doesn’t enter my field of thought when there is something so big in front of me. That’s where my responsibility lies to this football club.
YOU SAY IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE. BUT THIS TIME IT SEEMS TO CARRY MORE WEIGHT…
This time last week it was a different story, wasn’t it. It was somebody else linked. That’s just the way it works. Whether it carries weight or not, what is important to know is that it makes no difference to me. It makes no difference to the way I behave or think or prepare.
I didn’t wake up this morning thinking about anything other than getting training right and making sure we are ready for Saturday. Look, I understand that’s not how everyone else thinks.
But you are not invested in this football club. You are not Celtic supporters. You are not part of this club, like I am and the players are. Saturday means everything to us, everything.
So it doesn’t enter my sphere that I am going to be distracted – as I hope the players wouldn’t be – by matters in their own lives. We talk about that all the time – ‘where is our focus?’
If our focus is not on Saturday then the stories become very very different after the game. The questions become very very different.
SO WHAT HAVE YOU SAID TO THE PEOPLE WHO ADVISE YOU AND REPRESENT YOU?
They know better than to ask me anything this week mate, let me tell you. They know me very well. They wouldn’t dare ask me about anything.
SO YOU’VE NOT HAD A CONVERSATION WITH THEM THIS WEEK ABOUT SPURS?
No. I know you find that surprising. I haven’t spoken to them about a million other things going on here as well. It’s not just about me. This football club is planning for next year, planning to bring players in.
There is a full range of conversations going on, but my focus is on making sure we win a game of football which is very very important to us.
CELTIC FANS AREN’T TALKING ABOUT THE CUP FINAL. THEY’RE ALL ASKING ABOUT YOU AND IF YOU’RE LEAVING.
What will they be texting if we don’t win on Saturday? I will tell you what they will be texting. And that’s the trick isn’t it?
You all want to take me there, but I know what is most important right now and that is not the most important thing. Because there are players who aren’t here next year, very much so. Absolutely. So the story on Saturday is not going to be anything other than, ‘did we win?’
Because if we don’t win then I can’t answer those questions if I am sitting here talking about something other than winning on Saturday. That’s hard for you to understand, I know that, because you are not me.
You are not in my skin, you don’t live and breath this job that I have and what Saturday means to me, these players, this football club. There is nothing more important – nothing, apart from my family obviously – than that game.
BUT YOU CAN WALK AND CHEW GUM AT THE SAME TIME, AS THEY SAY…
No. No you can’t. Why? Who says that? Do you think the person who wins The Masters or Wimbledon thinks about all these other things that you’re thinking about? Or does he think about winning?
I am talking about elite sport here. Maybe you don’t understand or conceptualise that. But it is not just elite sport, it is anything you want to do in life; do you think people who achieve things and teams who achieve things can be that easily distracted that they chew gum and walk at the same time?
You really think that’s the message…
You think I’ll walk into training and say ‘hey boys, what are we all doing after training? Let’s go out and have a drink and relax.’ No, mate it is not how it works.
BUT PEOPLE CAN COMPARTMENTALISE THINGS…
No you can’t. I love that phrase ‘if you could walk a mile in my shoes.’ I’d love you to be in my shoes and know what my world is in terms of making sure that on Saturday we perform to the levels we can. You don’t understand that because you’d love the opposite to happen.
You’d love for there to be a story that we aren’t successful. That would rock your world. Not because you want ill of me, but that would be unbelievable. Imagine the headlines you could come up with, which has been done before, hasn’t it.
That is what generates interest. I have lived that, that is my life. Every week we have a game there are only two stories that can be told. Irrespective of what’s happened before or what’s going to happen after.
THE REALITY IS THAT IF YOU DON’T DO YOUR JOB ON SATURDAY THERE WILL BE SOME WHO SAY CELTIC WERE DISTRACTED BY ANGE TALK OF GOING TO SPURS.
Spot on. You’ve got that headline ready. But that is the truth. The fact I have spent 25 minutes to get you guys to understand that’s not what’s happening, eventually that story gets out. That is why I am on super alert because I am not going to allow anyone to say that.
CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THE FANS’ ANXIETY?
I understand that and I understand yourselves because you have a job to do. But I am kind of hoping that maybe people understand me.
If they don’t, I get it and it is not interesting and it is a lot more mundane and people think I am going to bat these things away because it works in my favour. It is not what I am about.
I will do what I think is the most important thing in my role for the next four days, as I would in any other case, and that is to try and get the team to win the Scottish Cup.
YOU HAVE CLEARLY PUT YOUR HEART AND SOUL INTO CELTIC AND YOU SEEM TO HAVE DONE THAT IN PREVIOUS JOBS TOO. BUT HAS IT FELT A LITTLE DIFFERENT HERE?
No. I do hope I have put everything into it. The ramifications of what I have done is greater here because of the passion and the interest here.
Not that there was less passion in Japan and Australia or anywhere else I have worked, it was still there, but just the intensity of the interest here means that it is all encompassing. It means you deal with a lot more. I have yet to see somebody who walks and chews gum and is really, really successful.
If anything what people have told me is you’ve got to get more balance in your life and I keep saying there is no balance. Apart from family and what I do, that’s it.
IS THAT WHAT COMES NATURAL TO YOU, BEING THAT DRIVEN?
I don’t know if it’s natural but that’s how I’m wired, how I am where I am. You’ve got to remember, from where I started 26 years ago, to be here I’ve had to be almost perfect in my coaching.
Any missteps along the way and I would have struggled to get anywhere near European football, and now I’m at such a massive club. I’ve had to be driven, that was the only way I could see it happening. I couldn’t do it if I was just dipping my toe into things.
FROM TWO YEARS TO THE SPECULATION THIS WEEK – IT’S BEEN CONSTANT FOR YOU?
Yeah, and that’s where the discipline comes in. I’ve never worried. As you all know, when I came here it wasn’t as if I was getting rave reviews.
People say I handled it really well, but the reason I handled it well is the same reason I’m sitting here handling this. That’s who I am.
I’m not trying to pretend to be something I’m not – I would never have survived that early period if I wasn’t able to be really focused on my role and not get distracted by things being said about me, whether that’s before or after I started. There was kindness too, and that’s fair enough because no one knew who I was.
BUT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LIFE AFTER CELTIC?
No, because I’ve never done that my whole career. Starting off in Australia, I don’t know how you could chart a course to where I am today, apart from one way and that’s doing the job I’m doing the best as I can, trying to be successful and seeing where that takes me.
I’ve never said: ‘I’m going to go from here, to there, then to there.’ Every move I’ve made is because I thought there was another good challenge, something that’s going to get me growth.
I love a challenge: ‘There’s another one, that’s where I’m going to go next’. But it’s not been in the sense that I’m going to do two years here, three years there, five years there and move on.
BUT HAS THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE BEEN A LONG TERM GOAL?
Not a goal. This football club plays in the Champions League, like everyone else I want to be competing at the highest possible level, wherever that may be.
That’s how I got to a World Cup with Australia because I wanted to test myself against the best teams in the world. All of us, that’s what we want to do.
But it’s not like I’ve said: ‘right, in five years’ time I’m going to take over the national team and go to a World Cup.’
It landed on my doorstep at the right time, because there’s so many things that need to be aligned for these things to happen.
YOU’VE SAID YOU STRUGGLED TO GET JOB INTERVIEWS – DO YOU TAKE SATISFACTION FROM BEING LINKED WITH THESE CLUBS?
That would be me being driven by those external things. Well, maybe not driven by it but what I’m trying to say is I’ve always had my own self-belief as to what I could do. That’s what sustains me.
Whether other people saw that or not, it’s out of my control – all these other things are out of my control. I can’t change people’s perception of me or what they think of me.
All I can do, is do the job to the best of my ability, stuff that I really love, enjoy and am passionate about, until the day comes when I’m not able to do it anymore.
Then I can be satisfied that I’ve given everything to the thing that I was most passionate about in my life, apart from my family.
I’ve loved football from the moment I can remember and wanted to have a life in football. When I get to the end, I want to look back and make sure that I’ve done that.
THESE DAYS IT’S A YOUNG MAN’S GAME – DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH STILL TO DO IN A FINITE TIME?
I don’t think about that, because if you start thinking that the clock is ticking or you won’t get opportunities… Whatever’s going to be in the rest of my football career as a manager will happen because I do what I do well where I am. That’s the only thing I can control.
I can’t control anything else. I could be the most successful coach ever and people might not give me an opportunity because they say ‘he’s Australian’, or ‘he’s over the age that’s acceptable’. If they want to find something, they will. But it’s not going to stop me doing what I want to do.
WHEN THE DAY COMES YOU DO LEAVE CELTIC, YOU’LL BE LEAVING A LOT BEHIND. YOU SEEM TO APPRECIATE ALL YOU HAVE HERE..
Absolutely. That’s why I’m so determined to try to deliver on Saturday. I’m all in here. The support I’ve had is unbelievable, throughout the whole club and how the supporters have embraced me.
I’m all in here. But you can’t be all in if you are thinking about something else. It just doesn’t work like that. That’s why Saturday is so important to me.
I really feel this is an opportunity to cap off a really special year for this group of players, the staff and for everyone involved at the football club and our supporters. That’s where my focus is.
WHAT ABOUT THE SQUAD FOR SATURDAY. EVERYONE OK?
Kyogo is improving every day. He hasn’t trained with group yet, he has his individual stuff today. The plan is for him to get through training tomorrow. We’ll be guided by him. He is a tough cookie and a good judge of where he is. He’s adamant he will be alright to go so we will see tomorrow.
Alistair Johnston is fine he has trained all week and Haksabanovic is fine, he trained yesterday, today and will train tomorrow. The only one missing will be Aaron Mooy, with his back complaint, everyone else is ready to go.”