CHRIS SUTTON insists Ange Postecoglou can eclipse Martin O’Neill’s treble-winning debut campaign of 2000/01.
The former Celtic striker arrived at Parkhead at the start of the Irishman’s revolution on a £6million transfer from Chelsea to kick off a glorious period in the club’s history.
The Hoops swept to a hat-trick of domestic honours with O’Neill’s men leading from the front following a season of disappointment under the so-called dream team of Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes.
But the one-time England international frontman reckons Postecoglou will overtake that achievement if they complete a silverware clean sweep after last term’s wretched performance when they limped home without a trophy for the first time in 11 years.
YOU’RE IN MY HEART…Ange Postecoglou displays his passion for Celtic.
Sutton said: “For a team written off and not given a chance in the title race prior to the season starting, Celtic are in pole position to win it.
“Not just that, they are in the hunt for a treble. It’s barely believable.
“I’ve been there. When Martin O’Neill put our team together back in 2000, we were title underdogs. Yet it didn’t stop us going through the card and winning a treble. It can be done.
“I’m going to be honest and say that, if Ange wins a treble this season, it will be a bigger achievement than Martin’s one given the circumstances he inherited.
“But let’s not kid ourselves, the big, big prize is the title.
“Deep down, Celtic would cash in the Scottish Cup to be guaranteed the title. That’s always the special one and even more so this season given the fact the winners go straight into next season’s Champions League.
THREE CHEERS…Martin O’Neill celebrates the domestic clean sweep in his debut campaign as Celtic boss in 2000/01.
“The prestige of that is one thing. The £40million that will go into the bank alongside the glamour is monumental.
“It would be in any case, but in the current financial environment surrounding the game, it will give the winners a big boost over the team that comes second.
“If Postecoglou does that, he’ll have earned himself a special place in the history of Celtic and I don’t say that lightly.
“I’m not talking amongst the legends. That would be silly.
“All I’m saying is he’ll have made a permanent mark and be recounted fondly for years to come, regardless of what goes on in the future.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Postecoglou’s work isn’t going unnoticed by some of my friends and colleagues south of the border and, I have to say, some of the opinions make me laugh.
“We had a discussion the other night about whether Postecoglou would be fancied or be able to cut it in the English Premier League. I mean, come on. Seriously.
WINNER…Chris Sutton is about to be congratulated by Aiden McGeady after scoring against Rangers.
“People sneered when he took the job because his background was winning championships in countries such as Australia and Japan. That’s not taken seriously in some quarters, but I don’t see why.
“The guy had led his country in the Finals of a World Cup. He had club trophies on the board.
“Let me put it this way, Aston Villa needed a manager when they decided to get rid of Dean Smith and they went for Steven Gerrard.
“How many trophies had Gerrard won as a manager? One. How many times had he managed at a World Cup? None.
“Everton went on the search after the Rafa Benitez plan went south and they opted to select Frank Lampard.
“How many trophies had Lampard won as a manager? None. How many times had he managed at a World Cup? Yep, none.
“This isn’t me having a go at Gerrard or Lampard. It’s more the snobbery, more the lack of research which is done.”
Sutton added: “I’m not daft. I’m well aware that Celtic had originally wanted Eddie Howe and the fact they landed on Postecoglou was down to the fact the now-Newcastle manager didn’t want to go to Glasgow for the next stop in his career.
“That could only be described as a major stroke of good fortune now for my old club, but, at least, they had the balls to go for him next at such a crucial and difficult time for the club.
HAMPDEN HERO…Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the Celtic support after the League Cup win in December.
“Postecoglou has already paid a bit back with the Premier Sports Cup, but a title with the riches on offer for getting it would be phenomenal.
“It’s why Celtic have to stay on point. They cannot think anything is done. Titles are hard to win. I know that from my time at Blackburn when we almost threw it away in the closing weeks before stumbling over the line.
“Strange things can happen and Celtic have to make sure they don’t. St Johnstone are fighting for their lives and no points are easy.
“Martin was calling Rangers the benchmark when we had the title more-or-less in the bag and there’s a reason for that. You have to keep that approach until you are over the line.
“Rangers are still the champions. They still have a league trip to Parkhead on their fixture list. They can still give Celtic food for thought.
“That’ll only happen if my old team lets their standards slip and, to be quite honest with you, I don’t see it happening.”
The Hoops will have five Premiership games to play after this afternoon’s match against the Perth side. A win will push them nine points ahead of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s club who play tomorrow against St Mirren in Paisley.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v St Johnstone this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.