Ange Postecoglou’s men don’t just have the opportunity to effectively seal the championship with a win against Hearts, in bidding for a 30th straight top flight game unbeaten, they are looking to sustain the third-longest run without loss in a top flight for 54 years – a record bettered only by the invincible campaigns of Celtic in 2016-17 and Rangers last season.
The Celtic manager is refusing to get mired in details of how victory could all but arithmetically seal his team the title – leaving Rangers requiring a complete turnaround in the remaining fixtures, both in points banked and goals scored, to overhaul their rivals’ advantage of six points and 19 goals. It is not about clinching the title in style, but continuing in the style that has delivered 25 wins and four draws from their past 29 Premiership games.
“That’s why we are in this position now,” the 56-year-old said. “Not by grinding through, but by trying to play a certain way and taking a real positive approach in every game we’ve played. That needs to continue to the end. If we try and change our approach now, or tighten up in any way, we aren’t going to do ourselves justice.
“We have got to just play well, win the game because we have played well, and see what develops from there. For me it isn’t about something being given to us. We have had to earn everything this year. We’ve got to earn the title and the way we do is by getting enough points on the board that we can’t be caught. Until that point nothing will change in our focus.”
In Celtic supporting circles, much of the focus this week has been drawn by reports in Portugal that the club was preparing to activate the £6.5m buy-out clause and acquire Jota. It was extrapolated that the 23-year-old must have intimated his long-term future of him was with Celtic. Postecoglou suggests it would be “premature” to arrive at that conclusion. Discussions remain on-going both with the wide man and fellow loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers. Celtic are also pursuing a deal in the region of £6m with parent club Tottenham Hotspur for centre-back, who has been an integral figure this season.
“We are at that point in the season where people are going to speculate but on our behalf nothing has really changed,” the Celtic manager said in reference to the two prospective deals. “We are in talks with Jota’s representatives, and from our perspective we would obviously like him to stay. He’s had a great year for us. But with all these things you need agreement from all sides, hopefully we are working towards that. I’m not aware of the chat, mate, but if you’re telling me there are suggestions of some significant progress then they are premature. It is similar with Cam. We are talking to him. He is a player we would like to keep at the football club, I know he is really happy, but with all these things you need all parties to agree. Until you get to that space there is no real certainty about closing the deal.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.