Ange Postecoglou may be the frontman, but the Celtic manager is adamant his backroom team deserve just as much limelight.

Named PFA Manager of the Year for the second season running at Sunday’s awards night, the 57-year-old has guided his all-conquering side to the brink of a treble. These are yet more heady days for the Parkhead club, and plenty questioned whether the return of such good times would be possible when Postecoglou walked through the front door all alone in summer 2021.

Arriving from the other side of the world with no assistance was a bold move, especially given the unfavourable perception around the previous management team. The likes of John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan had taken more than their fair share of flak for the previous season’s failures, but the new manager set his stall out early in retaining their services. Fast forward almost two years, and he continues to credit them as being integral to his success.

“They have been outstanding,” said Postecoglou. “I know I’m the frontman and the manager is the one who gets the recognition, but these things are really recognition for the whole group. I have an outstanding staff here.

“The football department is led by John Kennedy, who is just an outstanding person and coach and leader.

“There is also the rest of the different departments, the analysts, the sports science and medical staff, they have all played their roles.

“We have the best people involved at all levels. I’ve got a tremendous group around me.

“It’s not all about the players. They have been outstanding, but I’d think they would be the first ones to say it’s not just about them, it’s about everyone behind the scenes as well at all levels.

“They help them to perform to the levels they have this season and share in the rewards.”

Postecoglou was not oblivious to the scrutiny Kennedy and Strachan had found themselves under as what once felt like an inevitable march to 10-in-a-row disintegrated spectacularly. Moving from Yokohama F. Marinos, the new man in charge revealed he did have the option to bring in his own people.

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In some ways, that would have been easier; providing that disgruntled element of the Celtic support the clean slate they were calling for. But Postecoglou chose to look beyond a painful season, which increasingly looks like an outlier as time passes and more trophies are acquired.

Kennedy, in particular, had been part of an unprecedented era of success, present for each one of Celtic’s four consecutive trebles, and you never heard players speaking anything other than highly of him. Postecoglou’s gut told him they were worth keeping around, and that instinct hasn’t let him down so far.

“They are outstanding people,” he said. “I arrived here myself and I had the option of bringing people in. But when I looked at it, I know they had a difficult year, but the backdrop was nine outstanding years before then.

“John Kennedy was part of most of them. My feeling was they were outstanding coaches and I wanted them to be part of it.

“They had a difficult year but the way I saw it was that they had a huge motivation to sort of put it to bed and be successful at this football club.

“It’s a great credit to them. They are outstanding at their work and a credit to the football club.”

One notable addition, however, has been Harry Kewell. Postecoglou’s transfer business has featured the addition of several young wingers in Jota, Liel Abada, Daizen Maeda and Sead Haksabanovic – who better to guide than Kewell? Abada has specifically credited extra sessions with the former Liverpool and Leeds attacker as making a real difference to his game.

But that learning process is a two-way street it seems. Kewell has had several managerial spells in the lower reaches of English football – including Notts County, Oldham, Barnet and Crawley Town - but Postecoglou feels he is growing into the role at a club of Celtic’s stature.

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“Harry has been good,” he said. “He’s come in and he’s been willing to learn and develop within our structure.
“We had outstanding coaches in the group already who helped him initially and he’s found his feet and has contributed a lot as well.

“He’s been brilliant with the lads in terms of their individual development, but he’s also played a part in coaching the team. He’s really enjoying it as well.”