Ex-Rangers defender Kevin Muscat - the man who knows Ange Postecoglou better than most - has a message that will be music to the ears of Celtic fans: ‘This is just the beginning’.
The era of Ange has already delivered the Scottish League Cup, top spot in the Scottish Premiership with 13 games to go and an emphatic Old Firm derby thumping of defending champions Rangers.
Postecoglou's hunger for Hoops
- Former Ange Postecoglou associate Kevin Muscat says his one-time mentor won't rest in pursuit of more Celtic success.
- Ex-Rangers defender Muscat isn't surprised at Postecoglou's instant impact in Scotland, insisting he's always one move ahead in planning and preparation.
- Muscat, who replaced Postecoglou at J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos, says the Japanese contingent at Celtic Park will continue to flourish.
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But all this is barely an appetizer on Postecoglou’s platter, according to Muscat, who worked alongside him at Melbourne Victory before succeeding Ange as head coach of the A-League giant and then again at J1 League Yokohama F. Marinos in 2021.
Having spent a single season at Ibrox in 2002/03 in Alex McLeish's Treble-winning side, Muscat reckons Postecoglou has barely scratched the surface of his Hoops ambitions.
“There’s no two ways about it - Ange wouldn’t have got up the morning after beating Rangers (3-0) to go top (last week) thinking the job is anywhere near being done,” Muscat told FTBL.
“He’d have been thinking about the next game (the 4-0 weekend win over Motherwell), the next week, the next month and the next (transfer) window.
“He’s all encompassing - that’s why I got so much knowledge and value out of working so closely with him at Victory.”
Muscat believes that with Celtic having edged a point ahead of his old club in the Premiership title race, Postecoglou’s grip on pole position will not be relinquished lightly.
“Celtic have put themselves in good position with 13-odd games to go, especially when you consider they lost three of their first six games,” he argued.
“They’ve recovered so well - success can be defined in many ways but there’s no doubt the improvement under Ange has been astonishing.
“I’m not surprised at all, on a number of fronts. If we look at the football Celtic were playing before Ange’s arrival, and what they’re producing now, the progress has been significant.
“That doesn’t shock me in the slightest and long may it continue for him. We all look to Ange and what he’s accomplished going back to the A-League and what he achieved with the (Australian) national team.
“He had (title) success in Japan and now he’s changing the dial in Scotland.”
With Postecoglou, Muscat, said, a tempest followed by exponential growth is the template.
“If you follow his coaching career there are synergies there,” Muscat explained. "Ange would be the first to admit that when he first comes into a club there’s a lot of upheaval and movement.
“You soon find out who can cope, first of all with the demands of the football he plays and more importantly who believes in it and wants to be there.
“Sometimes you have to bring players in to be able to do that - and Ange hasn’t wavered there (recruiting instant Hoops hits like Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada, Josip Juranovic, Jota, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Joe Hart and Reo Hatate).
Reflecting, in particular, on the ex-Yokohama F. Marinos boss spending prudently on Japanese gems like Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Furuhashi, Muscat added: “Europe right now is littered with Japanese players - just look at Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
“It’s only being highlighted now in Scotland because some of them have been joining the powerhouse of Celtic.
“The technical qualities of these players is well known - and now long gone is also the stereotype that they can’t compete physically.
“That label belongs to five or 10 years ago - the Japanese knew that and worked on improving the physical side of their developing players whilst allowing their skills to flourish.
“You look at Hatate and Daizen, they’ve gone to one of the most brutally physical leagues in the world and they’re holding their own.
“The Japanese FA put this all in place a while back and their patience has paid off now.”
Talk of Postecoglou ascending to the pinnacle of the English Premier League at some point is already rife, though Muscat claims such heady proclamations won’t be clouding his thinking.
“Knowing Ange, he’ll understand it’s all about the job at hand and he won’t be looking any further ahead than that,” he said.
The Scottish Premiership is broadcast on BeIN Sports in Australia.