ANGE POSTECOGLOU delivers a typical snappy retort to anyone believing Celtic, with the title already in the bag, may ease up at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon.
The Hoops boss said: “We want to win, mate. I’m going to put teams out to win. That’s it. And the guys respect that, that’s what they want.
“They don’t want to be given anything they want to earn everything they get.
WE NEVER STOP…Ange Postecoglou encourages his players while Ibrox boss Michael Beale looks on during Celtic 2-1 League Cup Final triumph in February.
“If they play, they will play because they have earned it. If I make decisions that go away from that there will be other guys asking questions as to why they’re not playing.
“I think the last four or five weeks you can feel the lads have kind of tightened up in the way we are playing, knowing what’s at stake.
“We haven’t been as free-flowing as we were earlier in the year, which is understandable. And it’s felt like a long year because of the Champions League and the World Cup break.
“But I’m in no doubt that in the next training session they will be out there working as hard as they always have.”
Postecoglou, who is already plotting a summer recruitment drive, continued: “You can always improve. That’s my role. A lot of these guys are still young in terms of their football careers. I think there is improvement in us as a group.
DERBY COMBAT…Kyogo Furuhashi fires in a shot as Connor Goldson lunges in to try to block the effort.
“The experiences we’ve had this year, whether that is in Europe or domestically, make us stronger. It will be our task to make sure.
“It’s what I said at the end of last year: if we stand still, if we come out next year as the same team we were this year, there is always the chance that somebody can overtake you. We can’t let that happen.
“We have to push on and make sure we become a better team. Results-wise that will be awfully difficult because it has just been an incredible standard, but in terms of the football there is always room for improvement.”
The 57-year-old Greek-Australian acknowledged there could be departures as well as arrivals. That was the position in January when Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis quit Parkhead to be replaced by Alistair Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu.
Postecoglou is not overly perturbed about the prospect of change and, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s always a possibility. But there are different decisions you make around players. Sometimes players feel a desire to move on and it works well for the club.
GLASGOW BELONGS TO US…captain Callum McGregor sends a message to John Lundstram and Tod Cantwell as Reo Hatate also has something to say.
“We are always going to do what’s best for the football club. It’s got to marry with what we are trying to achieve.
“But I think what we have shown is that whether it’s absences through injury or through people leaving the club, we are still strong enough to be able to tackle the tasks ahead.”
Following the sixth and final derby of the campaign – with the champions winning four and drawing one of the previous outings – Celtic will face St Mirren at sell-out Parkhead a week on Saturday.
A midweek trip follows to Easter Road to take on Hibs and the curtain comes down on the league crusade on Saturday May 27 on Flag Day when Aberdeen are the visitors.
Then Postecoglou and his players will focus on the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden on Saturday June 3 where the club can achieve their eighth treble in their glorious history.