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May 19, 2022   |  7:30AM AET

‘After Devlin and Atkinson, they’re looking at Australia again’: Craig Moore

‘After Devlin and Atkinson, they’re looking at Australia again’: Craig Moore

Rangers and Socceroos great Craig Moore believes that Australia is well placed to capitalise on this Scottish purple patch, admitting he can’t recall the last time Celtic and Rangers fans could both finish the season happy.

Rangers face Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League final, before tackling Hearts three days later in the Scottish FA Cup final.

Moore, who is a player agent and has returned to Scotland, admitted he did not expect Ange Postecoglou to engineer such a successful debut season at Celtic.

“It’s actually quite a unique season. And for Rangers to get into a European final is incredible, plus they’ve got the Cup final against Hearts,” Moore said.

“I can’t remember too many (seasons) where potentially it’s Celtic fans and the club would be delighted. And if Rangers can go and do what is potentially on the table (Europa League and FA Cup double) for them, it also could be seen as a very successful season and the flow from that for Scottish football is enormous.

“Automatic Champions League football brings more money into the game and that’s fantastic because then thre’s the ability to attract top talent to come into the game here, plus a few Aussie boys are getting a crack at that as well. 

“So it’s for me, it’s been a really, really good time to be back here. You’ve got to say that Hearts have had a standout season returning from the Championship, getting promoted and finishing third and comfortably third.”

Nathaniel Atkinson (R)

Moore, who played in Scotland during an era that saw fellow Aussies Mark Viduka, Kevin Muscat, Tony Vidmar, Scott McDonald and Patrick Kisnorbo ply their trade there, said Aussies were back in vogue, having made a strong impact.

Nathaniel Atkinson and Cameron Devlin have impressed at Hearts, while Dylan McGowan has won promotion into the top tier with Kilmarnock.

“Cammy Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson, who come in a little bit later, have both done really well. On the back of those two, there’ll be a few more Australian players coming to Scotland. I have absolutely no doubt about that,” he said.

Tomas Rogic of Celtic leaves the pitch for the final time at Celtic.

“Cammy just gets it, he knows how to play the crowd, annoy an opposition coach and players. He’s just this type of footballer, he’s a real competitor. He picked up a bit of an injury, hopefully he’ll be ready for the Cup final.

“Nathaniel and come in a little bit later. Was unknown and I have no doubt he’ll do really well. Not the same personality as Cammy, but done well.

“I’m reconnecting with a lot of clubs here, a lot of them now are starting to look at Australia again, which is fantastic to hear because I feel as if this is a really good platform for the Australian players.

“It’s a competitive league. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 5000 or you got 60,000, there’s an atmosphere, you’re tested, there’s the pressure, the culture. For me, it is a really good platform to take your game to the next level.

“So I’m hopeful we’ll see more Australian players coming in to the country and maybe filling a few other sides with those type of players.”

Moore has had a unique perspective on the Rangers-Celtic rivalry. Whilst being a died-in-the-wool Rangers fan after a stellar career, he also worked with Postecoglou at the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Asian Cup as part of the Socceroos delegation.

“Look, did I think they would go on to achieve what they have achieved so far this season? I’ve got to be honest and say no. And most Celtic supporters would say exactly the same thing,” Moore said.

“It’s been an incredible job Ange has done, to come into a club but at the start of the season which by all accounts was chaotic. 

“I felt as if he was going to be a success over time because there was a lot of work to be done at Celtic. There was a lot of unhappy players that had an impact throughout the rest of the dressing room and changes were definitely needed.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou and Celtic captain Callum McGregor hold the Cinch Scottish Premier League trophy.

“He came in and done a very good job very early and a lot of questions about he’s got to bring in his own staff. That was a big thing at the start of the season. He has he has this confidence, that he knows exactly what he’s doing. 

“He takes a huge amount of enjoyment from developing others. So as long as you’ve got the right attitude and willing to work, as long as you’re good enough, you’ve got a chance to work with and to be a success.

“Off the field, back end he’s had to really put his stamp on a brand-new team bring in 15-plus players. To be able to hit the ground running, be competitive and play the style he wants to play then (win) the title.”

Moore predicted another epic Scottish Premiership title race next season, impressed by the impact his ex-teammate Giovanni van Bronckhorst has made since taking over from Steven Gerrard.

While Moore felt that Rangers let Celtic off the hook this season, he said Postecoglou and van Bronckhorst have both got important early wins with their respective fan bases.

“He (Postecoglou) got the early success with the League Cup and any coach that comes into Celtic or Rangers, success is so important. It’s that bond with the supporters that a lot of people talk really positively about,” he said.

“He communicates quite well and in an honest way with the media that I think 95 per cent of people understand and he doesn’t go into too many fancy words – pockets and break and lines, he’s pretty straightforward and I think people have really enjoyed that.

“On the flip side, because in I spent 12 years at Rangers, it hurts me to see and Celtic are doing that well. I take a lot more stick here for it (in Glasgow) than I would in Australia.

“With my Rangers hat as we all do, I look at when Celtic maybe didn’t start the season so well, Rangers had a real good opportunity to follow up on the back of last season’s success.

“Also going into the winter break with a handy lead, then not coming back and keeping the job going and getting the results to not only keep that distance, but to show that you were strong and able to back it up.

“But to win a title over the course of a season, you’ve got to deserve it. Celtic won that title and deserved it.”

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