ANGE POSTECOGLOU has urged his Celtic players to ENJOY their final flourish in a remarkable season.
It has taken a lot of hard work, gritty determination, energy-sapping endeavour and relentless concentration and ambition to reach this stage of the campaign.
There have also been some eye-catching, breath taking team performances laced with sparkling individual displays as the players have set out to prove they are the best in the country.
Now they are within three games of the finishing line that wasn’t in sight when they lost three of their first six Premiership games at Tynecastle, Ibrox and Livingston.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…new Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou expresses surprise as the Hoops lose 2-1 to Hearts at Tynecastle on July 31 last year.
Today, though, Postecoglou’s men are six points ahead of their nearest challengers and have three outings before they achieve the club’s tenth crown in 11 years.
Hearts are first up to provide competition at Parkhead tomorrow, then there is the trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United in midweek and three days later there is the grand finale against Motherwell in what hopefully will be Flag Day in the east end of Glasgow.
It’s a far cry from the Saturday evening of July 31 2021 in Edinburgh when John Souttar rose to thump a last-gasp winning header beyond Scott Bain to leave the Hoops’ new manager with his first taste of defeat in his debut league match.
Following a sensational about-turn in fortunes, Postecoglou said: “I think it’s important to actually enjoy this bit.
“The challenge is still before us, we haven’t accomplished what we want to – so enjoy this bit. Be up for it, don’t want it to just come to you.
MATCHWINNER…Kyogo Furuhashi flashes the ball past Craig Gordon for the only goal of the game the last time Hearts were at Parkhead in December last year.
“We’ve been pretty strong on the players, and everyone, of just embracing the challenge to win it, win it our way, play our football and finish it strong rather than hoping it all finishes so we can get it over and done with.”
Preparing for tomorrow’s visit of Robbie Neilson’s Tynecastle outfit, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “They’ve had a really good season, they’re in the Cup Final and they’ll be in Europe next year, so they are a tough opponent.
“When you get to this point of the year, they are one of the teams you know are going to be dangerous because they’ve got nothing to lose.
“They can go out there and play without fear as they’re sure of their position and that’s always a danger from an opponent perspective, because they’re not going to worry too much about the consequences if they aren’t successful.
“They’re going to have a crack at us, but it’s kind of the opponent you need.”
PRIZE GUYS…Ange Postecoglou is flanked by two-goal hitman Kyogo Furuhashi and captain Callum McGregor after winning the Premier Sports League Cup in December, his first silverware since taking over in June.
Postecoglou added: “Obviously, we want to finish strongly, we want to make sure that we play our best football at the most important part of the year and we’re going to have to be good on Saturday to do that.
“As I’ve said, we’ve been really consistent for a long time, particularly here at home and we’ll be up for it.
“After last weekend’s game, I think for everyone there was quite a bit of emotion and physical exertion on the day, so we gave the boys a couple of days off to recover and refresh them a little bit.
“It’s been a challenging year, but we’re in the final straight now and as a group we’ve got 10 days together so we want to make the most of it.”