There is a hinterland to Ange Postecoglou that ensured the enduring snapshots across his week of becoming a Celtic title-winning manager wouldn’t merely revolve around baubles or a big casts of metal.
The communal memories matter. And often those of the unscripted variety. Certainly, there was elation and emotion to be glued into the cranium scrapbook at Tannadice on Wednesday night, as his team clinched a championship supposed to be unwinnable for them this season. And those feelings will envelop Celtic Park as the cinch Premiership silverware is presented following Saturday’s hosting of Motherwell with which Postecoglou’s side conclude their remarkable league campaign.
Inbetween times, though, the 56-year-old has packed in different encounters to savour for his days. On the return from Tayside, he ended up addressing a crowd of supporters that had assembled for a pyrotechnical party at the club’s stadium. And then on Thursday, he met a fabled predecessor in his current role, Martin O’Neill, at a London dinner in aid of the Celtic FC Foundation, the club’s charitable arm. Postecoglou can be an endearingly wry fellow. In the Irishman, whose five years at Celtic helm from 2005 proved a golden period for the club, he was able to chat to an even wrier individual.
“It was great to met the legendary Martin O’Neill and share the [title-winning time] with people who love this club for the Foundation, which does unbelievable work,” he said. “Martin mentioned that he won a treble in his first year! I only won a double. It’s all good. That’s the beauty of this football club. You don’t need to look anywhere else for motivation or inspiration. It’s a club which is built on success and great deeds. All of us who get the opportunity to serve the club, you want to set your own mark and try to emulate the feats of the great people who’ve been at this football club.”
“Special” too were the scenes at Celtic Park in the immediate aftermath of the league triumph being confirmed. “It was great at Tannadice. It was great sharing it with our supporters there who’d made the trip,” he said. “It’s a fair drive back down here. It was pretty late, around midnight, and we were all pretty exhausted but we got word that there were a few people at Celtic Park and that few people ended up being a few thousand who were all singing. It was great. It’s one of those things which wasn’t organised, it was spontaneous. It was great for me, the players and my staff just to go out there and acknowledge them and just to see the joy on their faces. As I keep saying to the players, that’s the real rewards. You get others like medals, but the best bit is what it does for the people who love this football club.”
A meaningless game against the Fir Park club may seem mundane in comparison. But a 31-game unbeaten league sequence, and the post-match handover of the spoils as the curtain comes down on the campaign for his team, make it anything but so for Postecoglou. “‘We absolutely want to finish the season with a victory. Our preparation hasn’t been any different from any other game. We’ve been great at home all year and we want to continue that, and finish off in the right way.”