Earning streaks with the Zebras made Ange Postecoglou a Celtic success

The relative fortunes he now has at his disposal, and the winning streak his team is currently on, are all a far cry from his somewhat humble beginnings in management earning his stripes for the Whittlesea Zebras (now known as the Moreland Zebras). 14 years ago.

Postecoglou may now have Celtic on a 13-game winning streak, having lost just one domestic game all season, but when he took over the Zebras they had not won a game and were bottom of the Victorian Premier League.

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The transformation he was able to inspire was humbling, to say the least. Even so, it’s still, much better than what came before. Postecoglou won two of his 16 matches, and although it wasn’t enough to fend off relegation, he did more than necessary during his time at the club to make a lasting impression, and to attract the attention of top-flight clubs. A series of zebras.

In particular, his eye for the player and his ability to develop those he inherited were qualities already evident, and one Celtic supporters are sure to recognize.

Having tasted life on both ends of the football spectrum, it makes him even more grateful for the station he’s at now.

“You go so far there, my friend!” Postecoglou said.

“I finished the little task in which I won no silver!

“It’s fair to say I started on a factory floor. When people talk about me nowadays they see my place, in a great football club, with great resources, where I have the biggest spend of any football club.” [in the country]…you are at the bottom of the food chain.

“I made my way up, so I know every level of the game. It just kind of kept me grounded and on the path I was on.

“It’s this football game. Whatever you get along the way, you need to earn. You need to work hard.”

“It was then and I was young and it was a semi-professional team and they had their issues. Not that I was any less passionate than I am now about what I wanted to achieve.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, especially in today’s world, people want to skip things, you have players who want to be managers right away.

“I kind of like the fact that I’ve done it on every level. I’m where I am because of the hard work and success along the way.

“All I’ve done, wherever I’ve been, is tried to make an impact. When it comes to times of passing through those doors at the end, if you’re always welcome back, that means you’ve been appreciated.”

“It doesn’t always involve being successful. I mostly managed that, but even when I didn’t I think people would know I tried my best for their club.

“I’ve maintained relationships with all the clubs I’ve been to and kept in touch with the people involved.

“We all worked hard and stuck together. It was about trying to make things the best they could be.”

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It is difficult to argue that his presence did not allow Celtic to be exactly that. Postecoglou may have advantages over its competitors, but with that comes its own pressures.

As Michael Bell at Rangers discovers, even an impressive winning record against the best of the rest can be ignored in Glasgow if you miss out on your biggest rivals, and especially if you play second fiddle to them in the Premier League standings.

With him currently standing on the right side of that very duel, it’s fair to say that Postecoglou doesn’t quite shrivel up to the expectations he now carries on his shoulders, and when considering his humble managerial origins, why he’s more than happy to live with those pressures.

“It was a different kind of pressure there,” he said, “but I never saw it as pressure.”

“I’ve been in this position 26 years and the only time I’ve ever felt sad or stressed was in the eight or nine months I didn’t have a job.

“For me, that is why you have to make the most of it and make the most of all the experiences you have in the game.

“You want to be in the competition for awards because when you’re not in, I’ve missed out on everything.”

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