Ange Postecoglou, manager of Celtic. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
Mick Jagger once sang: “Angie, Angie, when will those clouds all disappear? Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?”. Celtic fans were, somewhat understandably, probably asking very similar questions of a certain Australian manager after seeing their side crumble against Hearts on the opening weekend of the season.
Well, Ange Postecoglou is beginning to answer those queries - the forecast is looking increasingly clear in the green half of Glasgow and the path that the Hoops are currently treading could quite easily be earmarked as a road to redemption.
Watching Sunday’s 3-2 Scottish League Cup win over Hearts, it was hard to remember a time when vengeance felt so fun. In the latter stages of Neil Lennon’s soap opera tenure, there were far too many instances where enjoyment was utterly abandoned - an alien concept buried deep under a mound of gloom and melodrama as Parkhead felt more and more like Hogwarts in the third Harry Potter after all the Dementors turn up.
Now though, Celtic aren’t just winning matches again, they’re winning them with electric bluster.
Truthfully, Sunday’s scoreline flattered the visitors a tad. Hearts had just two efforts on target, one of which was a penalty, and they scored both of them.
By contrast, the Hoops had more shots than a Geordie Shore wrap party, and by the end of the 90 minutes, an imperious Craig Gordon had an almost apologetic air about him as he repelled his former teammates with save after save. Each clawing fingertip, each courageous spreadeagled block seemed to say ‘Sorry lads, I know you’re wanting to post a cricket score here, but I’ve got a job to do too’.
The hypercritical might argue that a failure to turn such a salvo of sustained pressure into a proper deluge of goals is a concern, as is the occasionally gossamer-like resistance of Postecoglou’s back line, but honestly, when a performance is as joyous as Celtic’s was on Sunday, it’s hard to be sulky for too long.
In particular, Kyogo Furuhashi once again staked his claim for the title of ‘single best signing made by a Scottish side this summer’. His energy is so irrepressible, his agility so sleek and instantaneous, that it genuinely wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that his origin story involves a bite from a radioactive Jack Russell. The Japanese international is a turbo-charged wonder, and his superpowers could prove to be a skeleton key that helps Celtic unlock even the meanest of defences this season.
Elsewhere, supposed exit agitator Odsonne Edouard looked genuinely delighted to open the scoring, so make of that what you will, and the midfield Cerberus of Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, and Tom Rogic continues to plough fertile creative soil.
But, at the risk of sounding like a pretentious maître d’, if there was a real winner on Sunday, it was the ambience. The atmosphere inside Parkhead was decadently raucous - a buzzing crowd spurring on the Hoops with a gladiatorial bloodlust. They wanted a show, they honestly believed their team were capable of staging one, and Postecoglou’s men duly delivered.
Compare that carnivalesque delight to the morbid, cavernous silence of last season’s empty grounds, and the difference is otherworldly. It really does look as if the return of supporters has elevated the morale of this Celtic squad by notable strides, and who can blame them when the stands are in such fine voice?
After coming a cropper in their curtain raiser against Hearts, there was perhaps a sense of cautious wariness from some quarters heading into this one. Another mishap would have been a real millstone around the neck of Postecoglou’s burgeoning project in Glasgow, but instead, his side cast of their shackles, shook loose any lingering ring rust, and put in another soaring display.
For the sake of Celtic’s silverware credentials this season, and for the love of sheer entertainment, long may it continue.