Celtic are ready to roll the dice on Ange Postecoglou – the man they believe can be Scotland’s Marcelo Bielsa.
The Hoops, who saw their protracted move for Eddie Howe collapse at the end of last week, are in “advanced” talks with the 55-year-old Greek-born Australian.
Barring any late developments, it is expected his appointment as manager could be announced in the next 72 hours.
Marcelo Bielsa is one of the most-charismatic bosses in the English Premier League.
Nicknamed “El Loco” from his days in Argentina – where he told his players he would cut off a finger to win a Buenos Aires derby – he has been a sensation as manager of Leeds United.
He led them to the Championship title in 2019-20 with a brand of swashbuckling attacking football that won universal praise.
Then in the English Premier League season just finished, his side made a mockery of predictions they would struggle in the top flight by finishing ninth with a series of eye-catching performances.
Postecoglou, an Australian internationalist as a player, managed his country to Asian Cup success in 2015, and helped them qualify for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
He landed the national job, thanks to his success with Brisbane Roar, who he led to the title and to an unbeaten 36 game record.
The 55-year-old quit his post before the 2018 World Cup and then switched to a club job in Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos.
The club had been struggling prior to his arrival, but with a brand of attacking football, he led his team to the J-League title in his second season.
Now Celtic believe Postecoglou is the man to rebuild their squad over the close season, and lay down a challenge to Steven Gerrard at Rangers.
Sources indicate they appreciate he will inevitably be seen by supporters as their second choice to be new manager, given the high-profile failure of their bid to recruit Eddie Howe.
The 43-year-old former Bournemouth boss kept the Hoops dangling for months before breaking the dramatic news that he had decided not to come north at the end of last week.
However, they insist Postecoglou is not a quick fix, but someone they had identified as an outstanding candidate early in the process.
They are convinced that, given the right backing from club and supporters alike, he can make a huge impression on the Scottish game.
That view that has been lent support by former Rangers and Australia captain, Craig Moore.
“Celtic looked like a team struggling with belief and confidence,” he said.
“I have no doubt someone like Ange could improve Celtic significantly. We know Ange very well with his pro-active, entertaining approach. He likes to dominate possession, and plays a very attractive brand of football.
“Ange would be fearless. He has always had that desire to be the very best, and continue to work at the highest possible level.”
One potential obstacle would be Postecoglou’s coaching badges, with UEFA insisting managers working in Europe hold their own Pro Licence.
They are obtained by working through the C, B and A licences.
Celtic, though, having got this far with negotiations are confident any issues can be overcome.
An appointment would put an end to the guessing game about who the club would turn to next.
Bookmakers yesterday saw money for Hibs manager Jack Ross and Martin O’Neill, 10-1 and 16-1 in the market respectively.
Postecoglou’s career so far
1965: Born in Athens.
1970: Emigrates by boat when his father lost his business after a Greek coup. Photographed holding his Australian immigration number ‘24’ to his chest on arrival.
1978: Signs for South Melbourne and rises through the youth ranks.
1984: Makes his debut and goes on to make 193 appearances, winning six minor leagues and cups.
1986: Wins first of four caps for Australia.
1993: Moves into first coaching role as South Melbourne assistant manager.
1996: Appointed manager. Wins consecutive titles.
1999: Wins the Oceania Club Championship.
2000: Goes up against Sir Alex Ferguson in the Club World Championship. Loses all three games.
2000: Appointed manager of Australia Under-20s.
2007: Involved in a slanging match with pundit Craig Foster in an infamous TV interview over failure to qualify for youth World Cups.
2008: Quits Australia to return to his homeland to manage Greek second-tier side Panachaiki. Resigned later in the year after a fall-out with the board.
2009: Appointed Brisbane Roar manager.
2011: Dubbed ‘Roarcelona’ because of their possession style, he led them to Premiership and Championship and went on to produce an Australian record 36-game unbeaten run.
2012: Resigned as Roar manager. Two days later he’s unveiled as Melbourne Victory boss.
2013: Appointed manager of Australia. Qualifies for the World Cup in Brazil.
2014: Drawn in a Group of Death, they lose all three games to Chile, Netherlands and Spain.
2015: Leads Australian to win their first-ever Asian Cup.
2017: Guides the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup, but quits because of the pressure of the role. Later named manager of Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos.
2019: Rejects an offer to be Greece manager and instead extends Yokohama contract before winning the J-League
2020: Signs a new contract in December.
2021: Linked with Celtic.
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