Ange Postecoglou says he remains focused on his work at Yokohama F. Marinos despite being in advanced talks to become Celtic’s next manager.
The club’s board has identified former Australian manager Postecoglou as a target to replace Neil Lennon after negotiations with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe broke off.
Celtic are even hoping to secure a deal for their next manager as early as the middle of next week after being impressed with Postecoglou’s domestic and international success in Australia and Japan.
The club believe the 55-year-old’s philosophy of high pressure play and attacking football will quickly win over Celtic fans.
Postecoglou, however, declined to comment on his future after leading his side to a 2-1 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse in the J League.
“Those who know me know that I am focusing on what is in front of me,” he said.
“I understood that there was speculation about the future, but I stopped thinking about the world’s assumptions a long time ago.
“My goal over the last few days has been to make sure we are playing well.”
Postecoglou has been recommended to Celtic by Fergal Harkin, who is expected to be named the club’s sporting director this summer when he steps down as Manchester City’s head of football partnerships.
The Greek-born Australian manager won two A-League titles before taking over for the Socceroos in 2013.
His four years as Australia boss included qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and winning the 2015 Asian Cup.
He led his current side Yokohama to the J League title in 2019.
Why the Howe talks failed
It is believed that there are various factors behind the failed negotiations between Celtic and Howe, including with regard to backroom staff and personal reasons.
Howe is said to have been keen to take Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone with him to Parkhead as part of his backstage team.
The 43-year-old had initial talks with representatives of Celtic, including majority shareholder Dermot Desmond, in March and became the club’s number one pick to replace Neil Lennon at Parkhead.
In a statement issued on Friday, Celtic confirmed the breakdown in negotiations and said they intended to announce a new manager “very soon”.
“After very positive and detailed discussions with Eddie Howe, with the belief that he would be an excellent candidate for the Celtic managerial post, we allowed time for the process, as he had already made it clear that he was not seeking to return to management until this summer at the earliest, “the statement said.
“We can now confirm that Eddie will not be joining the club, for reasons beyond his control and that of Celtic. We wish Eddie every success for the future.
“As part of the ongoing process, we have engaged with a number of candidates. We fully appreciate that our fans will seek clarification on this issue and we aim, very soon, to announce the appointment of a manager with the quality and the desire to take Celtic forward and bring even more success to our supporters. “
Howe has been linked in a variety of roles since leaving Bournemouth in 2020 after a second eight-year term as manager at Vitality Stadium in which he led the Cherries to the Premier League.
John Kennedy has been Celtic’s interim manager since Lennon resigned in February, with the club ending the season 25 points behind Scottish Premiership champions Rangers.
Following the club’s unprecedented quadruple treble, Celtic ended the 2020/21 campaign without a trophy after Rangers won the Premiership and St Johnstone won the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.
In a statement released earlier this week, the Hoops said they plan to appoint a new manager “shortly” as membership renewal deals kick off for the upcoming season.
A friendly with Preston at Celtic Park awaits him on July 17, while their 2021/22 campaign kicks off on July 31.
Staff changes are underway in other areas of the club, with Scott Brown concluding his 14 years at Celtic Park to join Aberdeen as a player-coach.
Peter Lawwell will step down as Managing Director this summer and will be replaced by Dominic McKay. Desmond said in March that the pair would influence who is named Lennon’s successor.