is “cold and ruthless”, according to former Celtic striker Scott McDonald.

The ex-Hoops hitman worked with the Parkhead gaffer when he was in charge of the Australian Under-20 squad two decades ago.

McDonald, now 39, admitted he had reservations about Postecoglou’s chances of success when he was named as Neil Lennon’s successor in June 2021.

It had nothing to do with the Greek-Australian’s football knowledge or qualities, but the former Celtic was concerned his manner of treating players and wondered if there might be a back-fire.

McDonald, who is now in his first managerial post with Gold Coast Knights in his homeland, said: “If truth be told, I questioned it in terms of his ability, not as a coach but as a person to be able to give players the amount of time they needed for them to believe in who he is at a club like Celtic.

DERBY DELIGHT…Scott McDonald celebrates his winner against Rangers at Ibrox in December 2008 with a little help from team-mates Barry Robson and Scott Brown.

“Ange was always very cold with his players, not warming and doesn’t really speak to them. But I genuinely believe he wasn’t like that when he first went through the doors at Celtic.

“He had to give more. But with the experience he has gained and the amount of knowledge he has – and the amount of winning he’s had – he’s not a stupid man. He understands and he knew what he had to do.

“Now he can step back. He’s earned that right. Everyone knows who he is and he’s got their respect now.

“He doesn’t need to walk through the door and talk to Callum McGregor every day, but I’ll bet you he was during the first period.

“He would have been talking to the important ones, making sure they bought in and understood what he needed, what he wanted and that was the thing that surprised the most.

“That’s what I had questioned. It wasn’t about tactics or his knowledge.”

McDonald, speaking to the Off The Record podcast, continued: “He’s an excellent football tactician and manager and that has developed since his Brisbane Roar days, then going to the national team and Yokohama, and then coming into Celtic and doing what he’s doing.

“But on that human basis, could he get players to buy into what he was? It shows you what a special character, manager and leader that he is, that he was able to do that and more with this group.

“It’s another special period for Celtic with him in charge at the moment. He’s still as cold and ruthless as ever. He’ll never lose that. He’s very cutting when he needs to be. He will not be messed around.”

JOY BHOYS…Ange Postecoglou (extreme left) celebrates with his Celtic players after the League Cup triumph over Rangers at Hampden last month.

McDonald added: “I had two campaigns with him with the Australian Under-20s. And he never called me once when he was in charge of the Socceroos.

“He wasn’t interested. I was at Millwall at the time and never even got a sniff, maybe I’ll ask him about that one day.

“But that’s him. If he doesn’t like you or need you, he doesn’t give you an excuse or explanation. He doesn’t need to. He’s moving on. That’s the way he works and you’ve got to respect that.

“Even as captain of his Under-20s, and as his most experienced campaigner at that point because it was my third campaign in these World Cups, he pulled me into his hotel room before we played Brazil and we needed a result to go through to the next round and he just said: ‘You’re not playing. You don’t suit the style of what we need to beat this team.’

“I was going, ‘Captain? I’m f**king on the bench’. But we won, so who am I to say he was wrong?

“But I saw him recently when he was back over here and I said: ‘The biggest mistake you made wasn’t dropping me, it was bringing me back in for the next game and we lost!’

“The moral of that story was that I was the captain and his most experienced player, but did he care? He did what he thought was best and made the hard call.

“That was 20 years ago he was doing that. He’ll always make them and that’s what makes him a very, very good manager.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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