FORMER Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton has taken a sideswipe at the critics who are refusing to give Ange Postecoglou and his players their deserved credit.
The champions are on the title countdown as they sit 12 points ahead with only seven games to go.
Three wins in those remaining fixtures will make certain the title is heading back to Parkhead for an eleventh time in 12 years.
A victory over Kilmarnock in the High Noon showdown at Rugy Park tomorrow will edge them closer to the crown.
The League Cup has already been claimed for a second consecutive campaign following the 2-1 success over Michael Beale’s side at Hampden in February where the prolific Kyogo Furuhashi, currently on 28 goals, netted a double.
A BIG HAND…Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the Celtic fans after the 3-2 derby win last weekend.
Postecoglou’s side have beaten their city rivals three times and drawn the other of the four derbies this term and they lock horns again in the Scottish Cup semi-final at the national stadium a fortnight tomorrow.
One-time England international striker Sutton said: “The title is not quite yet in the bag for Celtic, but now the talk has shifted to see just how many points they can finish up with this term.
“Ange Postecoglou could set a record total – but already we’ve got some of the doom and gloom merchants trying to take off some of the shine.
“There’s been people making noises about the quality of the opposition in the Premiership this season. Don’t pay any attention.
“If Postecoglou can surpass the 103 total posted by our Celtic side under Martin O’Neill in 2002 and the mind-blowing 106 of Brendan Rodgers’s sensational Invincible campaign in 2017, it would be an incredible achievement.
“The first task will be making mathematically sure, but it’s well on course to being a fantastic year, regardless of where the team finishes up in terms of points or in the Scottish Cup.
“The level of consistency they have shown this term and the thrilling brand of football they’ve played deserve to be recognised.
“But if they can win their last seven games in the league and lift the Scottish Cup it will be up there with anything we have seen in the club’s history.”
SILVERWARE CELTS…Ange Postecoglou and two-goal Kyogo Furuhashi after the League Cup success.
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “A lot of people have got a bit blasé about all of this. Perhaps because Rodgers and Neil Lennon collected four trebles on the bounce, some feel this is just the norm.
“Believe me, it’s not. I know just how tough it is to go through a league campaign and get up to near 100 points and beyond.
“It takes a monumental amount of hard work, concentration and mental toughness – regardless of who you are playing. It’s easy to focus on the level of the opposition, but teams in Scotland have the ability to make it tough for Celtic – and Rangers – on any given day.
“There are so many things that can happen in games. You can get a red card, a few injuries, a bit of misfortune or just a bad day at the office.
“It doesn’t take much to slip up – yet Celtic have produced the goods week in, week out. Rangers, to their credit, have kept winning, but they still can’t get near Celtic.
CELEBRATIONS…Filipe Jota acknowledges the acclaim from the fans after scoring Celtic’s second goal in the 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in August.
“Just look at the way the fixtures have landed. By my counting, this weekend will be the 18th time Celtic have played after Rangers, it’s far from easy when you are the ones who constantly have to respond to results but Celtic haven’t flinched.
“They’ve also come through four matches against Rangers without defeat. We know second place is last in Glasgow, but for all their troubles, this is still a decent Rangers team.
“A lot of these players got to a European Final last May and they could also get up to near 100 points and still be left in Celtic’s wake. Mick Beale was getting praise for his unbeaten run before running into Celtic – but I didn’t hear anyone questioning the opposition then.
“Nor should they. It will be interesting to see how Celtic perform now on the back of last week’s huge win, I can’t see them taking their foot off the gas.”
Looking at his old club’s quest for further glory, Sutton added: “They won’t talk about records and so on, but I’m sure it will be in the back of Postecoglou’s mind and he might use it as motivation.
BEST FOOT FORWARD…Callum McGregor tackles Ryan Kent on Celtic’s way to another victory over their city rivals this season.
“He might need it and it is hard not to ease off a little once you get over the line. Celtic are not there yet, so I don’t think it will be an issue right now.
“They have a trip to Kilmarnock and that’s never pleasant. You can bet Rangers were thinking going into last week that if they could beat Celtic, then Rugby Park might be the scene of another slip up that could have opened the door on the title race.
“It didn’t happen, but when you achieve a big result like last weekend’s, it’s absolutely vital you back it up the following week.
“You see it time and time again, a team secures a massive win against a rival – and then the following week chuck three points back.”
Apart from Paisley in September, Celtic have managed to bodyswerve the banana skins.
There is every indication they will once again manoeuvre their way to three more points in their relentless bid for the crown.