The day all Celtic fans have been dreading, Ange Postecoglou departed for Tottenham yesterday, but who will step in to fill the big Aussie’s shoes?
“Big Ange’s” arrival at Parkhead was met with scarce optimism. An Asian football connoisseur, and little more than that, fans feared that the blue half of Glasgow would rapidly build on the 25-point gap they’d paved between themselves and Celtic the year before.
But “Ange-ball” soon took the Scottish Premiership by storm. The big Aussie’s attacking brand of football, coinciding with the departure of Rangers’ title winning manager Steven Gerrard, soon had Ange’s Bhoys back at the summit of Scottish football.
Now, just days after clinching a world record eighth domestic treble, Celtic are on the hunt for the 20th manager in club history. After five trophies in two years, it’s set to be an arduous task finding Ange Postecoglou’s successor.
Here are FIVE potential replacements for the outgoing Aussie:
This man doesn’t need much of an introduction to Scottish football. An apprentice of the legendary Jose Mourinho, Rodgers guided Celtic through one of the most successful periods in their 135-year history.
After winning promotion to the Premier League as Swansea City boss in 2011, Rodgers joined European giants Liverpool one year later.
Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea at the end of the 2013/14 campaign played a vital part in the Scousers’ title collapse as they finished two points off Man City at the top. After three trophy-less years on Merseyside he looked to revive his career in Scotland.
And that he did. In his first season, 2016/17, he won an unprecedented treble. Labelled “The Invincibles”, Celtic went 47 games unbeaten domestically as they racked up 106 points in the league, the most in Scottish football history. This included a 5-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox, the Gers’ biggest Old Firm defeat at home.
Another domestic treble in 2017/18 beefed up Rodgers’ CV as a move back down south looked more plausible heading into year three at Parkhead. One more piece of silverware, the League Cup in December 2018, and Rodgers was on his way to Leicester City two months later.
Two 5th placed finishes in his first and second seasons in charge, with the club’s first ever FA Cup title during the latter, Rodgers’ reputation was growing again. In is third year in charge he took the Foxes to the Europa Conference League semi-finals, another first for the club, but last season proved to be a truly disastrous one. With Leicester slumping to 19th in the table on 2 April 2023 Rodgers was relieved of his duties.
His departure from Parkhead in 2019 left a sour taste amongst Celtic supporters, but Rodgers will hope all is forgiven after emerging as a front runner to take over the Scottish champions yet again.
From a familiar British name to an unknown Italian. Vincenzo ‘Enzo’ Maresca is being tipped as a very possible candidate to replace Postecoglou.
But who is he? Although a relatively unfamiliar name in British football Maresca’s list of former employers is rather impressive. While Rodgers and Postecoglou represented obscure clubs such as Ballymena United and South Melbourne FC the same can’t be said for 43-year-old Maresca.
From West Bromwich Albion to Italian giants Juventus, Maresca spent 20-years roaming around Europe playing for various household names. Spells in his homeland, England, Spain and Greece, Maresca notably picked up a Serie A title while at Juventus and two UEFA Cup’s at Sevilla.
On 27 November 2016, the exact same day Rodgers lifted his first trophy as Celtic boss, Maresca played his final professional fixture.
Since then, he has ventured into coaching, spending brief stints with Sevilla and West Ham as an assistant.
Maresca assumed the role of manager, his first, with Serie B outfit Parma in May 2021, but a poor run of form saw him sacked by November that same year.
The Campanian native spent the entirety of the 2022/23 campaign as an assistant to Pep Guardiola, helping City to touching distance of the treble.
As second favourite to take the reins at Parkhead no doubt Celtic fans will be hoping that Maresca can emulate some of that Mikel Arteta energy and bring a slice of Pep’s expertise with him on his own managerial mission.
Another man well versed in the belligerence of an Old Firm from his playing days in Glasgow. David Moyes won the Scottish topflight as a player in 1981/82 and would become the 6th man (post-war) to clinch league titles with the Hoops as both a player and manager should he return to Parkhead and keep the championship streak rolling.
Younger generations will perhaps remember Moyes for being the failed successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, but Manchester United woes aside, the Glaswegian boasts a decent CV.
Following promotion to England’s second tier with Preston North End Moyes came within 90 minutes of steering the club to the Premier League for what would have been the first time ever.
His efforts with Preston earned him a move to Everton, taking over from compatriot Walter Smith.
When Moyes took over at Everton the club had just one top half finish on their Premier League records. In his first season he finished 7th, and within four years he’d secured a top four spot (Champions League qualifiers back then), taking the Toffees into continental competition for the first time in a decade.
European football became a regular feature, with Moyes taking Everton to the UEFA Cup Round of 16 in 2008.
The current plight around Goodison Park was unimaginable during the Moyes tenure. Everton’s worst finish during the final seven years of the Moyes rein was 8th, with the club reaching Europe in three of those.
His next move, while a no-brainer at the time, was perhaps his worst yet. Moyes signed a six-year contract with Manchester United on 1 July 2013, but by 22 April that contract was terminated. United sat 7th in the table at the time of his sacking, to this day their worst Premier League finish.
After one season in Spain with Real Sociedad Moyes was sacked yet again. He headed to Sunderland for the 2016/17 campaign, but after just one season with the Black Cats, in which they finished bottom of the table, he would be relieved of his duties for the third time in his career.
Now at West Ham Moyes is thriving as a manager again. In 2020/21 he helped the Hammers to 6th place and their highest points total in Premier League history, 65. Two seasons ago he took the club to the Europa League semi-finals, and later today he will walk out in the Hammers first European final since 1976.
With star player Declan Rice’s departure, a near certainty, and the upswing in performances from Newcastle United, Brighton and Aston Villa, European away days may be a thing of the past for West Ham if they don’t defeat Fiorentina in the Conference League tonight.
Could a loss tonight push Moyes in the direction of his former employers? Celtic’s ticket to the pinnacle of European football is already punched. At 60-years-old Celtic might be his best shot at clinching a first major trophy as manager.
It’s a stretch but this name could be familiar to some of a Celtic persuasion. Kjetil Knutsen is the man behind the Bodo/Glimt buzz.
In February 2022 Bodo/Glimt comfortably despatched of Celtic in the Europa Conference League Knockout round play-offs 5-1 on aggregate. This came after they finished 2nd in the group stages, famously battering a Jose Mourinho led Roma 6-1 along the way.
Bodo/Glimt would go on to beat AZ Alkmaar in the round of 16 and had a 2-1 lead over Roma in the quarter final first leg but suffered a 4-0 defeat in the return in Italy.
This was the club’s first European quarter final, and it would be followed by a Europa League group stage berth the following season.
If there’s anything that should excite Celtic supporters about the Knutsen rumours its his European exploits with the Norwegian side. Bodo/Glimt have featured in more European knockout ties than the Scottish champions since Knutsen’s appointment.
That or his forward thinking, free scoring ideology. The best way to move on from the break-up of “Ange-ball” could lay in appointing the 54-year-old Norwegian.
Before Knutsen’s first campaign in 2019 Bodo/Glimt had never won the Norwegian topflight and boasted just three 2nd place finishes. Since then, in the four years under Knutsen’s leadership, Bodo/Glimt have finished; runners-up, champions, champions, and runners-up respectively.
Knutsen’s attacking football has transformed the fortunes of Bodo/Glimt. In that first title winning campaign they bagged an astonishing 103 goals in just 30 games a Norwegian topflight record. Their 81 points that season also marked a new record.
The most eye-catching statistic? That 6-1 defeat of Roma was the first and only time a Jose Mourinho side had shipped half a dozen goals in a game.
This is not a managerial re-incarnation of Ronny Deila. Knutsen is the real deal.
A would be third English manager in Celtic history. Potter has worked magic during his young managerial career, but that soon wore off in his most recent spell with Premier League side Chelsea.
His misfortunes at Chelsea could work out favourably for a side like Celtic. Potter is a great man manager, and a subtle wizard tactically. If you strip the Chelsea stint from his managerial CV it makes for quite reassuring reading.
Potter’s time in the dugout began in the 10th tier of English football. Bizarrely this was soon followed by 7 years at Swedish club Ostersund. Within six seasons Potter had navigated the club from the 4th tier of Swedish football to the very top, the Swedish Allsvenskan.
His crowning glory was the 2017/18 Europa League campaign. Minnows Ostersund advanced from Group J in the competition finishing second to Athletic Bilbao despite sharing the same number of points. The Swedes even managed to defeat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates in the next round but lost 4-2 on aggregate.
This impressive upswing of Ostersund prompted Swansea to hire the then 43-year-old Potter ahead of their Championship campaign in 2018/19.
Despite displaying some highly attractive football the club finished outside the play-offs and Potter would jump at the opportunity to coach Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.
After steering the club well clear of relegation in his first two season, again showcasing some of the best football in the division, it was clear in year three that this side had stepped up a gear.
Brighton annihilated Manchester United in their penultimate home fixture of the 2021/22 season on route to 9th place. At the time their highest league finish ever.
Potter left Brighton in 4th on 8 September shortly after a 5-2 win over Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester.
Although he is the latest name to fall victim of Chelsea’s managerial merry-go-round Potter has still achieved a lot in a relatively short period in the dugout.
Celtic fans might be hoping he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.