Wim Jansen is a man more interested in creating his own history than carrying the past on his shoulders. The Dutchman, the first overseas coach to be entrusted with the attacking traditions of Celtic, is beginning to turn the supporters to his way of thinking, incorporating an approach based more on the head and less on the heart.
For the last two years the weight of expectation has threatened to crush Celtic Park itself as Rangers edged ever closer to equalling Celtic's record of nine consecutive league titles. Under Tommy Burns, the importance of the Old Firm games was drummed to the point of destruction into the players, who responded in spirited fashion but were picked off by the more clinical counter-attacking of Rangers. For the first time in the Premier Division, Celtic lost all four league games to their rivals last season.
Now, on the eve of the first meeting of the Glasgow giants this season, Celtic's form has brought a renewed sense of optimism to their supporters. Jansen has built his own side, with eight players arriving since the summer. The latest is Paul Lambert, who signed yesterday from Borussia Dortmund
Jansen gives each player a specific role and asks them to do their job within the overall pattern. Celtic have not tasted defeat since they lost the first two league games of the season, and even in the Uefa Cup, they were undefeated against Liverpool. Earlier, the determination that marks winners was shown in their Uefa Cup victory over Tirol Innsbruck, when they scored twice in the last two minutes at Celtic Park to qualify for that Liverpool tie.
As part of the Dutch side that espoused the total football ethic of the 1970s, Jansen has been given a football grounding available to few worldwide yet, although he can count Johan Cruyff among his personal friends, his arrival in Glasgow in July raised a few eyebrows from supporters expecting a more recognised football name.
There were suggestions that Jansen was fourth choice for the post: a relative unknown who had taken Feyenoord to the Dutch title, but had since moved to the undistinguished J-League in Japan. Out of touch with the game in Europe he might have been, but hours spent with a video allowed him to piece together his team jigsaw.
Jansen asked for tapes of Celtic games and also for Scotland matches, from which he drew up a shopping list of players he wanted at the club. Immediately Darren Jackson was signed, then Craig Burley from Chelsea and Henrik Larsson, the Swede who had been top of the list of targets Jansen presented Celtic's general manager, Jock Brown. Marc Rieper also arrived, but it took some time for the side to gel.
Larsson made the mistake that led to the Hibernian winner with almost his first touch for the club in a competitive match, but since then the spiral has been an upward one, with the striker displaying a sure touch in front of goal along with Simon Donnelly. The pair have ensured that Celtic have rediscovered their menace.
The talking has been conducted by the players, with Jansen a largely silent partner when it comes to dealing with the media. He says little, his players speak volumes.
Jansen's attention to detail will ensure Celtic are well prepared for the biggest test of the season - but if Celtic win don't expect him to shout about it.Reuse content