Postecoglou, Patience and the Power of Acceptance

Postecoglou’s Celtic have just put two very important victories firmly in their bag. Confident and convincing performances against Aberdeen and Motherwell away from home were very good to see. 

However, we do still sit in a somewhat miserable position in the table and have recently let in four at home to a clinical and confident Leverkusen. And we are still looking for our first Europa group stage point at the time of writing. It could therefore be argued that it’s not exactly been the best few weeks for Celtic. It’s all a bit stop-start perhaps.

But, sincerely, is this really that hard to expect given the fact our team is in its biggest and most tumultuous period of transition which has been witnessed in the last quarter century?

Between the number of players who have been brought in and the significance of players who have left – Eddy, Broony, Elyonoussi, Ajer to state a few – of course we were always going to need time to turn the pilot light into a full 4-bar fire! And let’s not even get started on the corporate shuffling which has been going on upstairs.

However, if we were to listen to some of the bampots who write in to the tabloid hotline’s, dial in to the ‘super’ fitba’ programmes available on our radio stations or – much worse – the army of attention seeking Twitter Tims who click away to their cancel cultured hearts are content, it would surely drive the average Tim to a state of desperate dementedness. The critique of Postecoglou and the inconsistency of our team is, in my honest opinion, far too much and completely unwarranted so early on in such a fragile season of change.

And to top it off, it’s not so long ago that there were plenty of Tim’s quoting those great speakers of mistruths – the tabloid Daily’s – in saying that Postecoglou just ‘doesn’t get it’.

Utter mince.

Thankfully, he has the character and bullishness to tackle this garbage head on when it comes from the mainstream media and it appears now, hopefully, to be put to bed amongst most of our own support too.

Honest Critique or Sensationalist Soundbite?

The real culprit amongst our fans is an unhealthy mix of a lack of acceptance of our team’s current state of transition and the stubbornness of their own self sabotaging short termism. One is an oiled rag, the other lighter fluid. Its outcome: an explosion of undeserved and completely exaggerated critique from Tim’s who seem to think that we’re too big to fail.

And it is as boring as it is pernicious.

Instead we ought to see how Celtic fare in the long term – say, one full season at least or two seasons at most – before a substantial judgement is passed on Postecoglou’s time at Celtic. And yes, we can and likely should have to wait that long to see true change and development. 

After all it took Fergie almost four seasons to get his Man Utd firing on its eventually unrivalled cylinders and he was close to the sack in December ’89 after THREE seasons of inconsistent football. This was mostly attributed to his slow and steady process of creating a culture change in the dressing room and high player turnover. Change takes acceptance, patience and, above all else, it takes time. And it is usually worth it.

Ex Celt Charlie Mulgrew contextualises the point about player turnover very well when he wrote, 

“I grew up a Celtic fan & it took me 6 months to settle. None of these players will have played for a club like Celtic where you have to win every game. A draw is a disaster & you don’t leave yir hoose! Even Joe Hart will not have played for a club with this expectation”

Further, Simon Hill, an English sports journalist based in Australia for the last 16 years and monthly contributor to internationally acclaimed Four Four Two magazine, wrote along similar lines only a couple of weeks ago via social media.

He made a great point when noting that Postecoglou’s inconsistent start at Celtic was very reminiscent of his bumpy start in charge of the Australian national team – you know, the one who went on to win the Asian Cup in 2015 ousting the likes of Japan and South Korea in the process. And for context, this was a South Korea team who went on to compete in the 2018 World Cup and even beat Germany 2-0 in the group stage.

Those very vocal minority of fans who overly critique Postecoglou in these early days of his tenure only really seem to create oxygen to the flames of ‘Celts in Crisis’ style journalists. And it appears that one or two of these types of writers and podcasters are very much alive and kicking within Celtic fan media too. Particularly on social media where clicks which create advertising revenue is king for some. Sensationalism and demi-hysteria always does sell, I suppose.

Sure, if there was zero evidence of creativity in our team, a lack of character on the pitch, players who couldn’t give 100% for 90 minutes and if Postecoglou didn’t have a stellar pedigree then of course such criticism could be merited. But most fair minded Tim’s can see the difference in energy of our players, the change in style of play from our team and, most importantly, the desire, belief and hunger that they now play with compared to last season’s paltry output under a fatigued and beleaguered Lennon.

The Power of Acceptance

And it is those aforementioned green shoots of recovery that our fans and true fan media should be focused on rather than the crisis style chat. Perhaps, like most who go through a period of anxiety and change – as our team has and continues to do so – some within our support could try and learn the difficult art of acceptance. 

To accept a situation is not akin to meekly surrendering and accepting an avoidable fate of failure as many think it is incidentally. Quite the contrary actually. True acceptance is strength and it involves taking stock of your current situation – particularly if you’re not happy with it –  and recognising the scale of the job you have in front of you to create change. By doing this, the setting of realistic targets and achievements are prioritised and, more significantly, they are typically met. 

The quicker we accept the scale of change required at our team in transition, embrace the patience which will be required and keep the faith in Postecoglou, the more likely it will be that results like our last two will turn into real momentum. 

Keep the faith.

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