CHRIS SUTTON insists it is “nonsense” to believe Celtic players will be distracted by the Ange Postecoglou guessing game in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden this evening.
Throughout the preparations for the showpiece showdown in the national stadium and the quest for a clean sweep of domestic silverware, there has been speculation about the manager’s future.
Reports state the 57-year-old Greek-Australian is already booked for a meeting with Spurs chief executive Daniel Levy on Monday which will determine if he goes into a third season at Parkhead.
FINAL BOW…Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the Celtic fans.
Postecoglou has skilfully and cleverly batted away all suggestions while maintaining he is only concerned with the encounter against the Highlanders that could bring the club their eighth treble in history.
Former Hoops goal hero Sutton, who was involved in a clean sweep during Martin O’Neill’s debut season in Glasgow in 2000/2001, said: “Today’s Scottish Cup Final has almost become an afterthought with all this talk about Spurs preparing to make their move.
“But I can tell you who won’t be getting distracted by the furore. The players. Honestly, they won’t be giving a toss.
“There are plenty of people who are saying they might get distracted, they might be unsettled by the uncertainty and it could affect them on the pitch.
“Nonsense. Sure, the players might be chatting about it and considering the possibility of the manager going. But it won’t matter a jot to them walking out at Hampden today. This is the treble. This is history. It’s huge.
“No matter what happens with Postecoglou, this is their opportunity to write their own names in the record books. I know Celtic have been hoovering up trebles in recent seasons, but it’s not that common when you look back through history.
LEADERS…manager Ange Postecoglou and captain Callum McGregor celebrate another Celtic success.
“This would only be the eighth occasion in nearly 150 years. Who cares what’s going on with the manager?
“As long as he’s turning up and his mind is on the job, I don’t think for a second the players will be focused elsewhere. Most of them will have been through this in their careers.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s the nature of the business. Managers come and go. Some get sacked, some leave in a hurry, some hang around for too long.
“Players just need to get on with it. If he does decide to go, they may be disappointed, but life will go on and there will be a new man coming in. It’s the life of a footballer. It might sound brutal, but that’s the reality.
“There won’t be pictures up on the walls at Celtic Park with an asterisk saying the players were put off by the speculation about their manager. When Wim Jansen left after winning the league in 1998 there would have been players who knew he was going before it came out.
“They still made sure they won the title and ended Rangers’ 10-in-a-row bid.
WATCHING BRIEF…Brendan Rodgers watches Celtic from the Hampden stand along with former director Willie Haughey this season.
“I’m sure there was plenty of talk about managers when I was a player – but I certainly didn’t notice. We had great times under Martin O’Neill, but I don’t remember being all worried he’d be leaving at any stage, even if there was speculation doing the rounds at times.
“Maybe that was just me, but I didn’t get a sense of it in the dressing room and I don’t think that will be the case in this Celtic squad.
“They have Callum McGregor there to keep them right, but I really don’t think he’ll need to keep anyone from taking their eye off this one. He’s seen it before.
“Brendan Rodgers leaving would have been a shock a few years ago. But McGregor and the rest didn’t think: ‘Oh well, that’s the season done’.
“No, they got on with the job – and they won a treble. That’s what is at stake again here today. They can dress it up as the perfect farewell for Ange, or the last dance or whatever.
GO-GO KYOGO…Celtic talisman Kyogo Furuhashi holds aloft the Premieship trophy after the 5-0 win over Aberdeen on Flag Day last weekend.
“We don’t know what will unfold in the coming days, but if Postecoglou does go, there won’t – and shouldn’t – be the same outcry like there was went Rodgers departed. No-one could grudge him taking the Spurs job.
“But it won’t have an influence on the team’s mentality. They will know what’s at stake and the hard work that’s been required to get them to this point.”
Sutton added: “No-one at Celtic can afford to take anything for granted. You don’t get gifted trophies, no matter what the perception is on the outside.
“Postecoglou will want Kyogo fit, he’ll want Alistair Johnston available, as he’ll put out his strongest side and set them up to get at Inverness straight away. Put it to bed as quickly as possible without giving Billy Dodds’ side any encouragement.
“What will be, will be with Postecoglou, and I still suspect there will be some twists in this tale.
“But if he does go, the Celtic players will be out to make sure he leaves on a high – as much for themselves as for their manager.”
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