Chris Sutton reckons that Ange Postecoglou and his current Celtic side are on the cusp of greatness. The former Hoops striker watched his old side beat our closest rivals for the cinch Premiership league title at Celtic Park and realised like everyone else, that this team is something special.
This week he has chosen to talk about why the Bhoys are on course for another Treble and why the outside noise won’t matter a jot to anybody with a Celtic mindset, even in the slightest. Writing in his Daily Record column this week, the former Celtic striker said:
“The title is not quite yet in the bag for Celtic but now the talk has shifted to see just how many points they can finish up with this term. Ange Postecoglou could set a record total – but already we’ve got some of the doom and gloom merchants trying to take off some of the shine. There’s been people making noises about the quality of the opposition in the Premiership this season. Don’t pay any attention.
“If Postecoglou can surpass the 103 total posted by our Celtic side under Martin O’Neill in 2002 and the mind-blowing 106 of Brendan Rodgers’s sensational Invincible campaign in 2017, it would be an incredible achievement.
“The first task will be making mathematically sure but it’s well on course to being a fantastic year, regardless of where the team finishes up in terms of points or in the Scottish Cup. The level of consistency they have shown this term and the thrilling brand of football they’ve played deserve to be recognised,” Sutton stated.
The 50-year-old has suggested that if Ange and his men keep going unbeaten until the end of this season and beat the points tally from previous years, it will stand up to the best teams in the club’s history. “But if they can win their last seven games in the league and lift the Scottish Cup it will be up there with anything we have seen in the club’s history. A lot of people have got a bit blasé about all of this. Perhaps because Rodgers and Neil Lennon collected four Trebles on the bounce, some feel this is just the norm.
“Believe me, it’s not. I know just how tough it is to go through a league campaign and get up to near 100 points and beyond. It takes a monumental amount of hard work, concentration and mental toughness – regardless of who you are playing. It’s easy to focus on the level of the opposition but teams in Scotland have the ability to make it tough for Celtic – and (the)Rangers – on any given day.
“There are so many things that can happen in games. You can get a red card, a few injuries, a bit of misfortune or just a bad day at the office. It doesn’t take much to slip up – yet Celtic have produced the goods week in, week out. (the)Rangers, to their credit, have kept winning, but they still can’t get near Celtic. Just look at the way the fixtures have landed.”
He also pointed correctly to the fact that we have played before them so many times this year, yet still have the upper hand. “By my counting, this weekend will be the 18th time Celtic have played after (the)Rangers, it’s far from easy when you are the ones who constantly have to respond to results but Celtic haven’t flinched”, Sutton noted.
“They’ve also come through four matches against (the)Rangers without defeat. We know second place is last in Glasgow but for all their troubles, this is still a decent (the)Rangers team. A lot of these players got to a European Final last May and they could also get up to near 100 points and still be left in Celtic’s wake. Mick Beale was getting praise for his unbeaten run before running into Celtic – but I didn’t hear anyone questioning the opposition then.
“Nor should they. It will be interesting to see how Celtic perform now on the back of last week’s huge win, I can’t see them taking their foot off the gas. They won’t talk about records and so on but I’m sure it will be in the back of Postecoglou’s mind and he might use it as motivation.
“He might need it and it is hard not to ease off a little once you get over the line. Celtic are not there yet, so I don’t think it will be an issue right now. They have a trip to Kilmarnock tomorrow and that’s never pleasant. You can bet (the)Rangers were thinking going into last week that if they could beat Celtic, then Rugby Park might be the scene of another slip up that could have opened the door on the title race. It didn’t happen but when you achieve a big result like last weekend’s, it’s absolutely vital you back it up the following week.
“You see it time and time again, a team secures a massive win against a rival – and then the following week chuck three points back. I don’t think defeat would have a much effect on the title race at this stage of the campaign but it would knock any hopes of going down the stretch looking to break records. Kilmarnock might be woeful on the road but they are a tough team to play against on their own plastic pitch.
“Postecoglou will want the title in the bag as soon as possible, and then he can talk about records. Even then, that is usually when there is a danger of slipping up. I’ve been there as well. You clinch the league with room to spare and it’s only natural to take the foot off the gas. You look at some of the results we had against us after we’d got over the finishing line. You put so much into the campaign, it’s hard not to ease off a little when the job is done.
“The manager also might want to use those games to try a few things out or give different players some game time. A lot of the ones who have done it week in, week out, will deserve a break too. This will be at a time when the teams they are facing have plenty to play for, with sides competing for European places and Rangers at Ibrox who will have fans demanding a win.
“When you look at Postecoglou’s attitude last season and this, he’ll want his side to sprint to the line and beyond. I wouldn’t bet against them getting close to or even surpassing the record. But will they get the credit they deserve? Don’t bet on that either.”