Yokohama F. Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou will leave the J. League club to take over the dugout at Celtic, ending a two-week courtship period that will see the Australian dropped into the middle of one of soccer’s fiercest rivalries.
The highly anticipated move was announced Thursday morning by the famed Scottish club, whose quest for 10 straight Premiership titles ended bitterly when archenemy Rangers seized its 55th domestic crown early last month. Celtic has been without a permanent head coach since February, when former club great Neil Lennon resigned.
In a simultaneous release, Marinos said they would respect Postecoglou’s wishes and had reached an agreement with Celtic regarding his departure. British media have reported Celtic will pay a six-figure compensation package to Marinos, who are currently in third place in the J. League first division with 22 games left in the 38-round season.
Celtic Football Club is delighted to announce that it has appointed Ange Postecoglou to the position of Football Manager.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) June 10, 2021
“We are grateful for the support he has given Yokohama F. Marinos, the new history he has written at the club and the many achievements he leaves us with, and as family we want to support Postecoglou in his new challenge,” Yokohama said in a statement. “Even though he’s leaving, Postecoglou will will remain a member of the Marinos family.”
After a tumultuous 2018 season in which Marinos finished just points above the relegation zone, Postecoglou’s flashy attacking style took root in 2019, allowing the J. League co-founder to win its first J1 championship since 2004. The 55-year-old previously guided Australia’s Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, won the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015 and secured qualification to the 2018 World Cup. Prior to that, he lifted two A-League championships with Brisbane Roar in 2010-11 and ’11-12.
“It was not an easy path we chose and there were many challenges, but we never stopped believing that we could create something special,” Postecoglou wrote on Marinos’ website. “There have been many great moments, none better that our J.League Championship win in 2019. I will always remember that final game at Nissan Stadium.
“I was also proud of the excitement we gave our supporters. We played some brilliant football at times and never stopped trying to improve in every area. We have had players represent the National Team and others follow their dreams in Europe. We have achieved so much.”
Postecoglou will become just the third J. League coach to take over a marquee European club, following Dutchman Wim Jansen — who left Sanfrecce Hiroshima for Celtic midway through the 1997 season — and French tactician Arsene Wenger, who took over Arsenal in 1996 after less than two seasons in charge of Nagoya Grampus Eight.
But while the Greek-born Postecoglou is known for being a methodical tinkerer who takes time to establish his philosophy within his squad, he will come under immense pressure in Glasgow’s famous “goldfish bowl,” where little matters besides the city derby between Celtic and Rangers.
“Celtic is one of THE names in world football, of that there is no doubt — a giant of a club, a proper footballing institution and so much more — real history, real substance, real authenticity and real soul,” Postecoglou said in a statement issued by his new club. “I know Celtic is a true way of life for so many people and I know the demands which come with this position – I am ready to do all I can to meet those demands.
“The opportunity that has been given to me is one of the greatest honours in football and the responsibility to lead our magnificent football club into the future is one that I will cherish dearly.”
Postecoglou is expected to depart soon for Glasgow, where he will complete his required 10-day quarantine before joining the team in training. His final game in charge of Marinos ended in a shootout loss to noted giant-killer Honda FC in the second round of the Emperor’s Cup on Wednesday.
Hideki Matsunaga, Marinos’ academy director, will manage Marinos on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is confirmed — beginning with Sunday’s Levain Cup playoff game against Consadole Sapporo.
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