Charlie Nicholas believes Ange Postecoglou is well ahead of schedule with his Celtic revival mission.
The Australian was appointed manager in the summer at a time when the Hoops were widely deemed to be in disarray after missing out on 10 league titles in a row as they finished 25 points behind Rangers. In addition, key players like Kris Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie moved to England.
After a mixed start to his reign in which they languished in mid-table, Postecoglou appears to have Celtic moving in the right direction, with seven wins in their last eight games in all competitions before the international break helping elevate them to second in the cinch Premiership.
Nicholas is loving the football being played under the Aussie and praised him for instilling his style of play so quickly.
In an interview to promote the recently launched Prostate Cancer Memorial, the former Celtic striker told the PA news agency: “I really like what Ange is trying to do. He’s building in a Tommy Burns style, if you like. It’s a front-foot approach with great energy to it.
“People sometimes say he doesn’t really have a Plan B. I don’t care. I didn’t care about that when Brendan Rodgers was the manager either. I just love watching what Ange is trying to create. This is the best feeling I’ve had watching Celtic for a while.
“I know there’s still problems in defence but you feel as if Celtic are coming back now. I thought it would maybe take six to eight months to get going and then you wonder if the manager will get that time from the fans but I think the fans are all enjoying it.
“I think he’s quite a bit ahead of schedule, certainly in relation to what I was expecting. Some people will debate that because I know they’re still second in the league and four points behind Rangers. But I just look at his team and think ‘yes, I like this a great deal’.
“Yes, there will be problems at the back along the way but tell me a Celtic team that didn’t make mistakes. There have been very few that didn’t. There’s an energy and drive about them. They want to please the fans, and that’s the Celtic way. I was brought up with that and that’s why I’m enjoying it.”
Celtic return to action on Saturday when they face St Johnstone in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final at Hampden, and Nicholas believes his old side will be too strong for last term’s cup-double winners.
He said: “It’s a fabulous opportunity for Ange and Celtic to get to a final. I went to the recent league game between the teams and Celtic never played that well but St Johnstone were awful.
“Yes, St Johnstone under Callum Davidson have had a remarkable story with the two trophies last season, and they are damn awkward to beat, but I feel there’s something about this Celtic team and if all their main guys come back fit, I would expect Celtic to be in the final.”
The Prostate Cancer Memorial is a 10-foot tall mirrored steel pyramid dedicated to those lost to prostate cancer. Among those names on the sculpture at London Bridge Station is Charlie’s father Chic Nicholas, who died of prostate cancer in 2009, six years after being diagnosed with the most common cancer in men.
People will have the chance to purchase a permanent name engraving on the memorial to celebrate the life of a loved one they have lost to prostate cancer, with all proceeds helping fund life-saving research. To find out more, visit prostatecanceruk/org.
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