Walter Mazzarri has now taken over at Serie A outfit Cagliari after expressing an interest in the Celtic job before Ange Postecoglou’s appointment, as confirmed by the Sardinians’ official website.
Yes, there have been a few inevitable teething problems – that shock defeat to Hearts, the Champions League disaster, that drab 1-0 loss at Old Firm rivals Rangers – but the early evidence suggests that, in Postecoglou, Celtic have a coach who is more Brendan Rodgers than Neil Lennon.
The former Australia and Yokohoma F Marinos boss arrived in Glasgow with a reputation for player development, an intense, free-flowing, possession heavy style and a penchant for building a side far greater than the sum of its parts.
While Celtic have hardly been faultless during the Postecoglou era, outstanding performances against the likes of AZ Alkmaar, Dundee and FK Jablonec – not to mention the remarkable revivals enjoyed by Tom Rogic, Anthony Ralston and Joe Hart – certainly suggest that the future, at Parkhead, could be a bright one indeed.
Celtic deserve huge credit, too, for taking an (educated) punt on a man completely unproven on European soil – especially when you consider that their most recent managerial appointment, pre-Postecoglou, was about as unimaginative as you could possibly imagine.
It is not as if they didn’t have other options either.
Why did Celtic go for Postecoglou over Walter Mazzarri?
The Sunday Post reported in February, as Neil Lennon was packing his bags and heading out the door, that 59-year-old Walter Mazzarri, a former Inter Milan, Watford and Napoli boss who gave Edinson Cavani his big break this side of the Atlantic, was keen on the job.
Seven months later, Mazzarri is now back in the familiar surroundings of Italian football, replacing Leonardo Semplici at Cagliari following a difficult start to the season for the Rossoblu.
“Experience gained at the highest levels, both nationally – 462 matches in Serie A – and internationally. A proactive style, charisma and a lot of determination: a new challenge is starting now for Mr. Mazzarri,” reads a statement on the Cagliari website.
“Good work, Walter!”
Mazzarri, given his experience at the top level of European football, would have perhaps represented a safer choice than the previously-unknown Postecoglou.
But, with Celtic heading in the right direction again, it looks unlikely that the Ange experiment will blow up in green-and-white faces.