Celtic dressing room has ‘tunnel vision’ over prospect of losing Ange Postecoglou to Tottenham

He had a similarly captive audience on Saturday afternoon hanging on his every word as Celtic swatted Aberdeen aside but the forecast got no further than this weekend at Hampden as the Greek-Australian’s ‘we never stop’ catchphrase was given another airing. Just when the relationship might reach its end point suddenly feels like the elephant in the room.

With chat around Spurs providing sufficient background noise as to make Celtic fans jittery, what has been left unsaid this weekend has been as pertinent as what has been said. Spurs are not the first club to be connected with Postecoglou but the link has carried more weight than others that have seemed like more fleeting and speculative stories.

Luis Enrique, the former Barcelona and Spain manager, is believed to still top the list at Spurs but Postecoglou, talked up by Harry Redknapp, is top of the bookmakers’ list. If Postecoglou is too cute to be drawn in any depth on the subject, the speculation does not escape the dressing room.

Greg Taylor could fancy himself as holding the claim on the most improved player at Celtic under Postecoglou with the full-back accepting that the players cannot allow themselves to fear the Celtic manager being lured elsewhere.

“We have tunnel vision,” said the Scotland internationalist. “There’s no point getting nervous about things like that, because it’s outwith my control. We just do our job on the pitch. We focus on every game and at a club this size you can’t look anywhere else.

“I’m just trying to play a small role in the team and bring success to a club that demands and deserves success. It’s outwith my control. I suppose [it’s inevitable there will be interest]. That’s what happens when someone does well at anything in life, there will be plaudits that come with that. Whether that’s trophies, individual honours or links to wherever it is, we understand that’s part of the life of a footballer and a football manager.”
Dermot Desmond, Celtic’s majority shareholder, flew in for a rare visit to Glasgow ten days ago while Postecoglou’s agent, Frank Trimboli, took in Saturday’s title party. Quite what that may add up to remains to be seen. Certainly, in a week in which the club and the Celtic manager will be keen to keep the focus on the Scottish Cup final and with it the chance of a domestic treble for the Parkhead side, the Greek-Australian’s influence will be spent this week on looking at the here and now.

And Postecoglou’s philosophy could be heard in the words of Taylor who maintained that Celtic’s approach to the final against Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle will be the same as what it was when they were gearing up for Real Madrid.

“I don’t think anyone in this building associated with the first team would utter those words [‘it’s only Inverness’]. We know Inverness will be raring to go, it’s a cup final and you only get the opportunity on the day. We’ve treated every game the same way all throughout the season – we prepare for the next one and that’s what we’ll do for the final.

“We’ve been big on focusing on ourselves. We know if we reach a good level of performance it’ll usually stand us in good stead in most games. Again, we’ll try to reach the levels we can, similar to what we did on Saturday.”

Saturday’s performance was far more like it from Celtic. They were rampant against an Aberdeen side who looked as though they’d done their partying on the back of Wednesday night’s result that secured them their own access to European football with Celtic swatting them aside with ease.

Kyogo and Oh both claimed doubles while there was a rare goal from Carl Starfelt sandwiched in the middle. Kyogo’s celebrations as the trophy was handed out confirmed Postecoglou’s theory he will be fine for Hampden while Alistair Johnston too is expected to be in the starting line-up after going off as a precaution following his spell out of the team.

There was a cameo for James Forrest who replaced Liel Abada at the break. The Israeli winger made his 100th appearance for the club but is almost certain to be playing his football elsewhere next season. For Forrest, this was his 11th title with both he and Callum McGregor – 19 title gongs between them – offering Taylor a lesson in longevity.

“Unbelievable – two club legends in my eyes,” he enthused. “The amount of honours they have, games they’ve played, their goals and assists, they’re both a credit to the club. You can see they love every moment of winning things for Celtic. Well done to them.

“I’ll do well if I can get to their level, to be honest. It’s some feat to reach. I don’t look that far ahead. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to play for a club this size at the moment, and however long that lasts I will try to take in every moment.

“It’d be crazy to get to their level. It’s so hard to win things in a football career, so for those guys to have won that amount is really unbelievable.

“These days don’t [ever get boring]. It only gets more and more special every time. Every time, you learn to appreciate it that wee bit more, to take in the things you wish you did the last time. I’ll be appreciating every last second of playing for this club.”