Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus: Given key roles in Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic evolution

  • Installed as joint B team Head Coaches to create a clear pathway to the first team
  • Vowing to build a culture of excellence so youngsters work every day to improve
  • Learning key lessons against stellar opposition in the UEFA Youth League
  • Hoops boss feels their experience as Celtic Academy graduates themselves is vital
  • Pair’s squad will work alongside the top team at Lennoxtown training complex

PARTNERS...Sport Careers Agency clients Stephen McManus (left) and Darren O'Dea are in joint charge of the Celtic B team thetransfertavern.com

DARREN O'DEA and Stephen McManus are focused on creating a culture of excellence as they bid to build a clear identity for Celtic's B team.

The former Hoops defenders and Sport Careers Agency clients were installed as joint Head Coaches of the squad after the departure of the long-serving Tommy McIntyre this summer.

Now they are in the midst of a fascinating season of learning as they look to build a new youth pathway at the Scottish champions who are flourishing under the guidance of charismatic Australian coach Ange Postecoglou.

As the top team return to the Champions League this season O'Dea and McManus watch their side pit their wits against the same rivals in the U19 Youth League.

This is a far more demanding environment than the Scottish Lowland League where the B team play their bread and butter football and currently sit fifth five points behind leaders Rangers B.

An opening 0-6 home defeat to a superb Real Madrid side for the young Celts in Europe was followed by a narrow 2-1 loss at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Darren, though, was encouraged by the levels reached by the young Hoops against Shakhtar and the 35-year-old Irishman said: ”Part of our culture is realising that every day is an opportunity whether it is training or a game.

”We know we have to be at our maximum at all times. For every minute against Shakhtar, we were at our maximum and gave absolutely everything.

”It was not just a case of effort there was real quality in our play. We can't ask for anything more, they were sensational.”

McManus, whose side will now train alongside the champions' first team at their Lennoxtown training HQ, is highly respected within the Hoops hierarchy having already been involved as a coach at first team level.

And it is clear that Postecoglou was the major driving force behind the decision to install 20-times capped Republic of Ireland defender O'Dea and 40-year-old McManus, who played 26 times for Scotland in his own excellent career, in their new roles.

Celtic's top team picked up their first Champions League point in a 1-1 tie with Ukraine's Shakhtar in Poland and lead bitter rivals Rangers by five points after a 4-0 derby day destruction of Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side.

The next part of Postecoglou's revolution at the club is developing a conveyor belt of local talent to flow into the first team.

And Ange stressed: "I wanted a really strong connection to the development of our B Team and Stephen, with his knowledge of our current first-team philosophy and demands, will be ideal in this role.

"Darren too already has that great experience of working with our young players and an affinity with the B Team which I know will be invaluable to us.

"He is also someone with the knowledge of what it takes to be part of the Celtic first-team and the way in which we work at that level.

”As Celtic supporters we all want to see as many young players as possible coming through the stages to join our first team.

”So we look forward with confidence to our B Team developing positively and I know our fans will wish Stephen and Darren well in progressing the team further.”