Firstly, many congratulations on your appointment as the new Celtic manager. On behalf of all Celtic fans I would like to wish you the very best of luck and every possible success. I realise that you are new to this part of the world and you will find Scotland and Scottish football, at times, to be a very welcoming but strange place, so I thought I would share a bit of advice which you may find useful.
Celtic supporters are very passionate people. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we are all back in stadiums around the country cheering the team on to the full. By all accounts it’s said that you are a passionate person too, so don’t be afraid to show that passion as it’s something that Celtic fans will appreciate and will relate to. It’s also said that you have a footballing philosophy and favour an exciting, attacking, brand of football. This is also something else that you will find that the supporters will be definitely respond to in a positive fashion. There are clubs within the world game who have a tradition and reputation for playing exciting football and there is no doubt Celtic come into that category. This is something that Celtic fans are extremely proud of.
You are probably taking over at a good time in that you have as close to a blank canvas to start with as any manager could have. The current squad is paper thin and requires serious strengthening in all areas. You will have noticed that we had a really bad season in the last campaign after a fine run of nine seasons of success. The frustration was, that the first time our biggest rivals mustered a decent challenge to us during that period, then Celtic dropped like a snowman in July. This must not be allowed to happen again so the hope is that you will help to foster a better team spirit than what we witnessed last season.
There is one thing you can learn from your predecessor. Apparently last season there were players who wanted away from the club and it soon became obvious that their hearts were not at Celtic. Believe me, there is not one player in the current squad who is irreplaceable. So if you get a feeling that there are players showing a similar attitude then don’t be afraid to take a firm stance and show them the door. The fans will back you all the way on this. There are also other players in the squad who will need the big stick treatment occasionally. Last season at Celtic Park was like Liberty Hall, so hopefully you will be able to instil a sense of discipline which we have not had at Celtic for some time.
You may be in for a shock, culturally, when it comes to the style of football in Scotland. The phrase ‘hammer thrower’ will soon be familiar to you. The problem is that referees often let bad tackling go without punishment which is something that hinders the Scottish game at European and international level. One bit of advice on this, if you think that there are any refereeing issues during Celtic games then it’s best to speak out rather than to ignore it as ignoring it will not make it go away.
You will find that the media may deride your previous achievements in Australia and Japan. Try not to laugh too loud at this as Japan, in particular, has had a far higher ranking in the world game than Scotland has for many years. There are those of us with a more open, cosmopolitan outlook, who have admired what you have achieved in your career so far and are very much behind you as you set out on this new chapter. I am sure you regard this as a wonderful opportunity, something you will have been working towards for your entire managerial career.
A manager is never more powerful than he is when he is newly appointed. I will refrain from commenting on Celtic’s current coaching staff. If you retain them then this has to be your choice. If they are being inflicted on you from above then you must be firm and object to this to ensure you are allowed to pick your own men. If you should fail in the Celtic job then you want to leave knowing that all decisions made were yours alone and that there was no interference from others at the club. New managers are entitled to choose their own staff and you should be no different.
I liked your comment at the press conference regarding not being first choice for the Celtic job. The fans are with you on this. We don’t care about first choice, second choice, or tenth choice, we just want the manager who is the right choice. And we very much hope that you will be that man.
Looking forward to cheering you on from section 445.