CELTIC legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes believes Ange Postecoglou and his players will be celebrating a memorable title triumph at the completion of his debut campaign.
The Hoops striking great, seventh-highest goalscorer in the club’s history with 189 goals, was in the Lisbon Lions stand to watch Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor fire in the efforts that gave the team a 2-0 win over St Mirren last night.
The latest success sees the team sitting at the Premiership pinnacle three points ahead of their nearest challengers with nine games to play, continuing with Livingston in West Lothian on Sunday.
Hughes is confident his old club will not falter in the run-in, but he does admit concerns about where the goals are going to come from to make certain their tenth championship flag in 11 years.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, the Parkhead icon, speaking to author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the fans’ favourite’s autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’, insisted: “I am positive Ange will keep his players focused on the remaining nine league matches.
BY THE LEFT…John Hughes – Big Yogi to the Celtic fans – prepares to fire in a shot during his heyday at Parkhead.
“He comes across as a determined individual and, as we have already witnessed, doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
“Ange didn’t press any panic buttons when the team lost three league games – at Tynecastle, Ibrox and West Lothian – before the end of September.
“That’s a lot of points to drop so early in a campaign, but he never wavered from his target and how he demanded his team would play. He said often enough there would be no compromise and he is sticking to his guns. Good for him.
“However, I was beginning to wonder where the goal was coming from last night. Yes, we had the bulk of the possession, but we weren’t really working Jak Alnwick, the same keeper who had to pick the ball from his net six times back in August.
“David Turnbull claimed an excellent hat-trick that afternoon and it is ironic that he is one of a trio of Celtic players who has collected three goals in one game this season.
“Kyogo Furuhashi had the dream debut when he fired in three against Dundee, in another 6-0 win, and Giorgos Giakoumakis achieved the feat with his trio in the 3-2 victory over the same club last month.
“Strange, then, that fate dictated that none of those three players was fit or well enough to face the Paisley side on this occasion. That’s a lot of firepower sitting in the stand.”
EASY AS ONE-TWO-THREE…Kyogo Furuhashi who netted a hat-trick against Dundee.
EASY AS ONE-TWO-THREE…David Turnbull who netted a hat-trick against St Mirren.
EASY AS ONE-TWO-THREE…Giorgos Giakoumakis who netted a hat-trick against Dundee.
Hughes, now 78, added: “I know I am stating the obvious, but Kyogo is a massive miss. Even if he is not scoring, the striker is in defenders’ faces all of the time.
“The old joke was that Bobby Lennox would chase paper in the wind. My old team-mate was lightning fast and Kyogo is very similar in so many ways.
“The Japanese international has missed all 13 games this year and there are no indications he will be fit for Livingston on Sunday.
“He was also missing for five matches earlier in the season after returning with a knee injury following a World Cup-tie against China.
“Kyogo also sat out three other league games before the turn of the year which, thankfully, was interrupted with his double in the Premier Sports League Cup Final at Hampden on December 19.
“A week later, he limped off early in the 3-1 Boxing Day win over St Johnstone in Perth and, alas, we have not seen him since.
“Kyogo has 16 goals to his name since his £4.6million arrival from Vissel Kobe in late July.
THE MASKED MARKSMAN…Callum McGregor made certain of victory over St Mirren with his third strike of the season.
“How many do you think he would have totalled by now if he had played – or at least taken part – in the 21 games he has been forced to miss in a crucial campaign?
“So, of course, it must be concerning for any manager to be without a player who had become a talismanic figure to the support.
“However, it speaks absolute volumes for Ange Postecoglou that he has guided Celtic to where they are today without such a prolific scorer and key man in his system.
“We had to rely on goals from Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor, who have now scored three each in all competitions, to get the job done against an extremely stubborn Saints side who had not turned up in the east end of Glasgow to provide an iota of entertainment value.
“The main thing is Celtic got the job done without the services of Kyogo – and Turnbull and Giakoumakis, for that matter.
“But it is hard work when your main men are not stripped and ready for action.”
*TOMORROW: DON’T MISS ANOTHER BIG YOGI EXCLUSIVE.