FORMER Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton has advice for Michael Beale: Learn from Ange Postecoglou.

This time last week, the rookie boss was preparing his Ibrox side for the Viaplay League Cup Final against the holders at Hampden the following day.

Beale was going into the encounter with an unbeaten record of 14 games – 13 wins and a 2-2 draw with the Hoops – behind him and noises from across the city indicated the match was a mere shoo-in for his team.

Zambian international Fashion Sakala had already dismissed the Parkhead outfit by insisting his club “were the better team” while, of course, Postecoglou had already been labelled “lucky” by Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s November replacement.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS…Ange Postecoglou and two-goal Kyogo Furuhashi with the League Cup after another Hampden success.

Sutton, though, has a pertinent question when he compares the both managers and asks: “Who inherited a tougher job?”

The one-time England international striker said: “There’s always a huge fall-out after a derby defeat and it’s magnified a million times when it comes in a Cup Final – especially when one of the teams has been played off the pitch.

“Rangers went into the game in bullish mood, talking up their chances, firing barbs across the city and talking a good game. A few days later, we have the Ibrox manager talking about battling ‘against the odds’ and facing a total rebuild in the summer.

“Talk about a wild ride. Beale has spoken about standards at his club, but I didn’t see those standards when the Rangers team refused to hang about to see Celtic go up and get their winners’ medals.

“I also didn’t see it when he held the group meeting on the Hampden pitch after the game, which was clearly a show for the supporters, when the inquest should have gone on behind closed doors.

“That is the big lesson Beale should learn from this damaging week. The pandering to the masses has been good knock-about fun, but in the long term it doesn’t do him any good.

BIG MOUTH…Michael Beale yells instructions to his players as Ange Postecoglou looks on.

“We’ve had the ‘lucky man’ stuff that will continue to haunt him as long as Postecoglou is on top and the ‘them’ jibe didn’t do much good, either. There’s been some growing grumbling about the financial gap to Celtic, as well, and it got louder this week.

“I said last week you only have to look at how Martin O’Neill handled stepping into the Glasgow goldfish bowl with his ‘Rangers are the benchmark’ stuff. He didn’t talk about the money situation, he was on about the teams.

“Rangers had won the league by a mile the year before he came in and he was still talking about benchmarks when we were out of sight.

“Beale came in all guns blazing, but now the penny seems to have dropped. But there’s no use moaning about money or injuries, or whatever excuses get rolled out.

“He only needs to look at the job Postecoglou has done at Celtic. Who inherited a tougher job?”

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “When Postecoglou arrived in Scotland he was right up against it. He was dismissed as a nobody by folk who refused to research his stellar career.

THREE CHEERS…Ange Postecoglou and Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley savour the moment.

“The Celtic squad was on its knees, players were desperate to leave and Rangers had won the title by the length of the Clyde.

“That really was a total rebuild. When Beale came back to Rangers he talked about picking up a squad who were European finalists a few months earlier. Now it’s back to square one?

“There wasn’t a peep out of Postecoglou back then, either. He had to quietly go about revolutionising his squad while still winning games. He’s been hailed from all quarters now, but I don’t actually think he got enough credit for winning the league last season.

“Talk about winning against all odds. But it just shows how the balance can be tipped.”

Sutton added: “Celtic look stronger in just about every department. And the scary thing for Rangers is, while Sunday was a fairly comfortable win, I don’t think Postecoglou’s side were quite at their best and there could be more levels to come.

“It will be up to Beale to keep up and try to be competitive, but there’s no doubt he’ll need help.

“It’s not that Rangers have not had money – it’s just that they’ve not used it wisely. They can point at the amount of cash spent by Celtic, but they have also brought a lot in on sales.

HAMPDEN HAPPY DAYS…Ange Postecoglou enjoys his moment as a film star.

“Postecoglou has balanced the books, but he’s also barely wasted a penny. The big-money arrivals have all done the business and the bargain buys have looked like steals.

“Cameron Carter-Vickers might gave cost £6million, but he’s been value for money. Then look at the likes of Reo Hatate, who cost less than Rabbi Matondo.

“It’s not just about spending – it’s about spending better. That is an issue higher up than Beale.

“I still can’t believe Rangers haven’t sorted out the futures of Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos and there has to be serious questions asked if they leave for free in the summer.”

The examinations will continue for Beale and his players this afternoon when they host Kilmarnock this afternoon in their quest to chip away at the champions’ nine-point advantage as Postecoglou’s men zero in on their second successive title.

The Hoops go back into action tomorrow against St Mirren in the midday confrontation in Paisley which has proved to be the only banana skin in domestic football in this campaign.

There is every likelihood there will be no repeat this time around.

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