The latest roud of international fixtures has left Ange Postecoglou with a couple of headaches. It’ll be a couple of days before he gets his medical men to assess the damage. but as usual, there has been damage.
Some players have reported directly to the hospital…
…whilst others will be taken as soon as they are well enough to attend,
Briefly summarised, it’s a good job we gave some players a run out at Paisley.
Cameron Carter Vickers is almost certainly going to miss the Motherwell game on Saturday, he wasn;t even fit enough to play for his country, whilst Georgios Giakoumakis is what’s known as a “doubt “.
Greek national manager Gus Poyet said, with Giakoumakis absent from his team to face Northern Ireland;
“He had a small problem, and we couldn’t risk him. I don’t know how long. I think it’s not going to be long out, but if you ask me now, I don’t think he will play at the weekend in Scotland. So, he was not fit to play.”
Sead Haksabanovic was booted off the park after half an hour or so of his game for Montenegro against Finalnd, and is unlikely to be fit, and the medics will check Daezen Maeda after he was left out of the Japanese team when he alarmed coaches who noticed he was standing still for a minute.
Carl Starfelt…remember him ?…isn’t up to speed yet, and David Turnbull picked up an ankle knock that saw him sent home from the Scotland squad.
However, that still leaves quite a few who can handle the SPFL, and will allow those out to wait until they are one hundred per cent before returning.
With the World Cup break only a little over a month away, the stop start nature of the club season continues with quite a few games thrown in over this next period.
As you can see, between this Saturday and November 12, it’s going to be hectic…..
Thirteen games in thirty three days means we will need everyone in the squad to play their part, with the targets being consolidation at the top of the league, a league cup semi final and a place in European football after Christmas, whatever the level.
This is where the new culture instilled by manager Ange Postecoglou plays it’s part, and that depends on whether or not he has instilled that culture as a short term policy to help him while he’s here, or a long term policy to build a legacy while he’s here.
Already we’ve seen him state, quite clearly, that he has no interest in players who want to use the club as a stepping stone to more money in one of the bigger leagues.
Can we , and I hope we can, assume that he feels the same way himself ?
He has said on several occasions that he is happy, and living the dream, to paraphrase, so is he basing his recruitment around those of a mentality akin to his own ?
Have we found a manager who will be around for a while, because he wants to build a club, or do we have a manager who wants to move on to bigger things as soon as one becomes available ?
There’s plenty of acceptance that he will move on one day, but the nature of the man seems to reject the idea of managing elsewhere , England especially, for a job where instant results are needed, where risks cannot be taken and where a manager is not given the time to install his own culture into a club.
So surely it follows when you have that opportunity you would put your heart and soul into it, and everything else, all the distractions and temptations are dealt in the same matter of fact way that he deals with the media ?
We’d like to think so.
We have all mentioned and congratulated him on changing the culture at Celtic, and we appear to have seen the results, but when he says he is still at the beginning of his job, we tend to smile knowingly, and think he’s just playing down what he has achieved so far.
But what if he really is at the beginning of a long term policy, one that involves changing the culture of a football club ?
To understand the question, we need to look at what exactly the culture of a football club is made up of.
There’s the obvious bit, the playing style , the transfer policy and the other things on view weekly as games take place, but what about behind the scenes ?
The bits we don’t see ?
The dressing room, for instance, pre match, is, as the manager has said, the exclusive domain of the players before a game. Which means that Calum MacGregor, as captain, will have far more responsibility than Scott Brown did. Or any other Celtic captain.
Players who are a little nervous , or a little to aggressive need to be looked after, all those little problems with ego need to be solved, and he has to make sure everyone is on board with all the work that has gone on in the build up.
It may seem minor, but those few minutes before the team heads to the pitch are crucial to team spirit, to morale and above all, to confidence.
Which can be compounded to an extent with mental welfare, at half time, for instance, there are ten minutes to soothe players who have made mistakes, to encourage those who are below par, and perhaps even to curtail those other players who may be angry at team mates they feel have let them down.
Football “culture “, for want of a better word, is dominated by selfishness….each player is looking to be the star man, to earn that big move, and since it’s rare for two or three to move to the same place from the same place then no one wants to be left behind.
Culture changes will involve support groups, help off the pitch as young men move into adulthood, in the crazy world of professional football….think back to how Stilian Petrov could easily have been lost to the club.
And how Islam Feruz and Karamoke Dembele were…..
As we are all well aware, clashes on the training ground and in the dressing room are common, and testosterone overcomes reason , which alienates players and creates cliques or divisions. Senior players, coaches and both physical and mental health specialists need to be aware of not only problems but potential problems.
Especially given the diversity of colour, creed and religion among the players….and, indeed, staff.
It’s all very well to be “open to all “, but it has to be more than just a phrase.
For those who lament the sale of Chris Julien , or the downfall of Olivier Ntcham, or even the row between Moussa Dembele and Brendan Rodgers, then you can perhaps see what damage players who aren’t fully bought into a group culture can do to a club.
Postecoglou, on the surface , has changed all that on the surface, at least, and it’s credit to the man that players have turned down offers to stay, and we’ve turned down players who the manager has felt, his words, who would not fit into the group, on and off the pitch.
Behind the scenes, if there is a bigger shift towards both physical, and we’ve seen that with players no longer rubbed down with a sponge and sent back into action, and mental well being, which was a problem during Covid, then the case for thinking Postecoglou has found a home from home becomes even stronger.
There is a similarity with Barcelona in one sense, which is the “B” team.
At the Nou Camp, B players are trained to be ready to step into the first team, they are treated off the pitch as equals, according to Michael Calvin in his State Of Play book.
That means they are taught much more about being a professional footballer because they are trained at the same level about the same things as the first team, something that is noticeable when you watch the Celtic Colts.
There is a conveyer belt of players being loaded up, and whilst very few players come through the academy of any team, largely due again to the “money talks ” culture, Ben Doak a prime example, Celtic still have a couple at least in their first team squad, and with UEFa tightening FFP and elgibility rules for their competitions, this is essential.
So instead of doing his two or three years at Celtic, again it ponts to someone trying to build something, something that is lasting.
One could argue all managers get to do that, or at least want to, but without the backing of the club that’s not going to happen.
Which means the club also see Postecoglou as a more long term appointment, something which the media now seem to have noticed, hence their latest campaign to drive a wedge being built around the rolling contract issue.
My guess is the manager will get a new deal, a long term one.
Even if he does leave , that will increase compensation and so on, so nobody loses in that sense.
What will be more interesting is the detail, because in that detail will be much more about not only changing the culture of Celtic, but seeing exactly how far we’re prepared to allow him to do that, which will ultimately be what determines how long he’ll stay.
Ange Postecoglou is an intelligent and forward thinking manager.
He, if given the time and space to implement his own “culture ” at a club , will succeed , perhaps beyond even our own wildest dreams.
And even if he doesn’t, it’s going to be a show, and it’ll be a show worth savouring.