If one word sums up what Ange Postecoglou has brought to Celtic it’s “energy”, according to Hoops Aussie legend Scott McDonald.
Old firm extravaganza: live show streamed on Facebook, youtube & kayo sports from 8.40pm aEST Sunday | kick-off from 9pm AEST on beIN 1, available via Foxtel, Kayo Sports, Fetch tv & beIN SPORTS connect
Six wins on the bounce in all competitions - with a stunning 24 goals scored - has created seismic expectation ahead of the Old Firm derby on Sunday night (AEST), as fellow Aussie Ange leads Celtic into the Ibrox cauldron against defending Scottish Premiership champion Rangers.
McDonald wrote his name into Bhoys folklore with 59 strikes in 117 appearances during three-and-a-half years in Glasgow. He believes Ange is already well on his way to securing his own form of eternal affection among the Parkhead faithful.
“The supporters really didn’t know much about him but they’re learning fast what he’s all about,” McDonald said. “There was a lot of negativity around his appointment, which was down to a little bit of naivety in terms of people not realising what he’d done at Yokohama and with Australia.
“But in a very short space of time he’s been able to turn around that perception and bring a feel-good factor back to the club.
“It’s all about energy - that’s the biggest thing of all - and it’s something he’s brought to the club in abundance.
“The Champions League exit and losing the first league game wasn’t ideal, but with those six straight wins behind him now Ange couldn’t have asked for anything better going into the Rangers game.”
Celtic must first complete the job against AZ Alkmaar on Friday (AEST), as it seek sto add to 2-0 aggregate lead in its Europa League qualifier.
But all eyes are on Ibrox for the Steven Gerrard versus Postecoglou Show.
McDonald is confident Ange’s newest converts are in for more mesmeric moments as his influence and aura envelops Celtic Park.
“Ange demands certain standards,” he said. “If you fall behind then you can leave, no matter how big you are or what you’ve achieved at the club.
“The fans have loved his honesty and how up front he’s been with all that - and the great thing is he’s also getting results and doing it in style.
“The supporters are right behind him and some are already saying it’s the best football the club have played since the 1990s.
“What Ange has done is similar to what Brendan Rogers did when he came in.
“Like Ange he got a lot from a largely unchanged group of players. It’s night and day to when Neil Lennon was there.”
McDonald sees the Ibrox collision as a “neck and neck” match, with both sides a point from top spot after three games, on six points apiece.
“I’d probably make Rangers still the favourites because they’re at home, even though the performances haven’t been there yet for them,” McDonald said. “But if Celtic win it, without any of their supporters allowed in the ground, it will give him more buy-in and belief from everybody at the club. And that’s gold dust.
“He’s also got supporters fired up about Europe again, although if they’re to do well there they’ll need to bring in three or four (more players), which Ange has been quite open about.”
McDonald nominates Postecoglou’s Japanese import Kyogo Furuhashi, with six goals in six appearances in all competitions, as the “talisman”, with revitalised Socceroos star Tom Rogic flourishing again with a goal and an assist from his three league appearances.
“Furuhashi’s energy and closing down embodies what Ange loves about Japanese players in terms of commitment, quality and selflessness,” McDonald said. “His finishing has also been superb.”
Rogic’s recent renaissance is a boost for Australia, with McDonald adding: “If Neil Lennon had stayed in the job there was no room for Tom.
“Looking back 12 months he was close to leaving for the Middle East and didn’t look to have a future at Celtic.
“Give credit to Tom for putting his head down and being patient. Ange has come in and given him the belief again.”