Celtic secured a second consecutive Premiership title and just one win separates the domestic treble, but what’s next for Scottish champions and Ange Postecoglou?
“Enjoy your summer and we’ll come back bigger and better – because we’ll never stop!” Postecoglou’s words to Celtic fans after they lifted the league trophy last May.
He kept his word as Celtic took another title by storm – and is on course to break all sorts of club and Scottish records, even surpassing Brendan Rodgers’ total points tally on ‘Invincibles’.
In just two years, Postecoglou has completely rebuilt the side which ended 25 points behind Rangers and put them back on top with five trophies to their name – only Inverness Caley Thistle stands in the way of the Australian finishing Scotland in major honours.
Here, Anthony Joseph from Sky Sports News looks ahead to the big issues and priorities facing the Scottish champions – and their boss – this summer…
There is no doubt that domestic success will remain Celtic’s number one priority – retaining the title is paramount.
Placing in Europe will be very high on the list, perhaps even higher than in previous seasons, and Celtic’s Champions League campaign this season will be frustrating but promising.
Postecoglou’s debut season in Europe’s elite competitions saw some very strong and at times dominant performances.
However, Celtic only managed to score two points and finished last in a group that included champions Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.
In six matches, Celtic had 82 shots on goal and hit the post three times.
They only scored four goals from all those occasions. Watching the games, many of these chances could be considered quarterbacks, and perhaps it could be argued that if they created a similar number of chances in the group again, they would have scored more than two points.
Champions League football, as this group of Celtic players have learned, is ruthless and an extra bit of quality will be needed to turn those odds into goals and victories next season.
There was enough to see that Postecoglou’s relentless and 100 mph playstyle could work at this level, but needed some polishing.
The Celtic coach will also know that his own reputation outside of Scotland will be heavily judged by what he can do in Europe.
Next season, Celtic will aim to secure post-Christmas European football as a priority to show continued progress.
Contracts and transfers
Celtic have a number of secondary players and the start of the transfer window will focus on evaluating the future of players at the club and looking to transfer those unlikely to be part of Postecoglou’s first-team plans.
Goalkeeper Conor Hazard was on loan to HJK Helsinki and his contract expires in the summer.
The club will also be looking to sack Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and Ismaila Soro in the summer window, all with a buy-out clause in their current loan deals.
The Hoops are also open to offers for James McCarthy and Liam Scales, who have spent this season on loan at Aberdeen.
Question marks remain over the future of Mikey Johnston, Yosuke Ideguchi, Osaze Urhoghide, LiamShaw, Adam Montgomery and Johnny Kenny. Some of these players may be given another chance to impress on loan, while others may be placed on the transfer list.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart enters the last year of his contract.
The former England international is expected to remain first-choice for next season and Celtic will have to decide whether to extend his current deal.
In the long term, the goalkeeping situation is something the champions will have to deal with. Barkas and Hazard are likely to leave, with the unfavorable Scott Bain also entering his final year in the next term.
They have Benjamin Siegrist but he has yet to prove that he is capable of being a goalkeeper.
Another player entering the last year of his contract is David Turnbull, who struggled to break into Celtic’s starting XI under Postecoglou.
Interest in Celtic’s key players is high and the retentions of Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Reo Hatate and Cameron Carter-Vickers will be crucial this summer.
Many clubs in the English Premier League and across Europe are interested in Carl Starfelt.
His current contract expires in the summer of 2025, and if they decide to sell, they already have a replacement in Yuki Kobayashi, who was signed from Vissel Kobe in January.
Ajax are keen on winger Liel Abada and Celtic may face a decision on whether to cash in on the 21-year-old and look for a replacement. They could charge a decent fee as Abada still has a few more years on his contract.
Postecoglou will be looking for some extra quality in its lineup. An extra striker to add strength in depth would be beneficial.
If Kyogo is injured, Hyeon-Gyu Oh is the only natural replacement.
Maintenance of Postecoglou
Celtic’s biggest asset at the moment is their manager, which has not gone unnoticed by clubs in the top five leagues of European football.
Postecoglou has already been shortlisted for several Premier League clubs including Tottenham and his continued progress at Celtic will only see interest continue.
There doesn’t seem to be any sign that Postecoglou wants to leave Glasgow, but if he wins the treble he will win every domestic trophy in the country in his first two seasons.
What is left for him to do? Everything points to him wanting another chance in the Champions League while maintaining domestic success.
This will be a sign of progress for the former Australian boss who has also won league titles in his home country and Japan.
A good run in Europe next season could also determine which club he joins in the future. He is the project manager and strongly believes that there is still much to be done at Parkhead.
Celtic will have to be ready for life after Postecoglou who is in charge of everything in the football department.
Everything is going well with the current structure, but the club needs an upgrade if it wants to compete consistently in Europe while also fighting for domestic supremacy.
This summer, Celtic are looking to strengthen their global brand in Asia by booking a tour of Japan and South Korea for July. The club laid its foundation in Japan by signing Shunsuke Nakamura nearly 20 years ago. Now Hoops has six Japanese players – Yuki Kobayashi, Reo Hatate, Tomoki Iwata, Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Kyogo. They also signed South Korean striker Hyeongyu Oh in January.
The J League and K League markets have proven fruitful for Celtic under Postecoglou and the club is now putting a lot of effort into maximizing its commercial potential in these countries. Celtic’s Japanese-language Twitter account is already one of the most followed football club accounts in the country.
Sky Sports News understands that Celtic will attend friendlies in Japan and South Korea this summer, as well as participating in various commercial and promotional events. This proved very successful in Australia when Postecoglou sided with him Down Under during the World Cup.
Closer to home, the club is looking for innovative ways to increase revenue as well as improve the fans’ match experience. New stadium bars have opened in turnstiles after the club was given a special license to serve alcohol up to two hours before the start of some matches. The Hoops hope this will be the start of talk about lifting the 43-year-old general alcohol ban in Scottish football stadiums.
Another issue likely to gain traction over the next 12 months is the supporters’ campaign to create a ‘Celtic End’ at Parkhead. Their group ultras Green Brigade and Bhoys Celtic want to create something similar to Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall and Liverpool Kop End – with a safe section standing on the other side of the Jock Stein Stand behind the goal. This campaign is gaining momentum among Hoops supporters and is something the club will be forced to look at.
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