It is easy to become jaundiced about such league winning love-ins but there was genuine, and affecting, heightened sensations thanks to the myriad elements at play. And here was a day so drenched with elation and emotion, the elan with which they eviscerated Motherwell by a 6-0 scoreline almost seemed a sideline. Yet relentless, attacking football that produced it is precisely what accounts for why Ange Postecoglou practically acquired the status of a religious deity to the club’s faithful.
Certainly, there was something messianic in the manner he led Celtic out of the wilderness to a title success widely considered to require a miracle. Exhibiting the class, grace and wit with which he has conducted himself and that his team possess, he predictably stole the show with his address. No mean feat when the ensemble cast was sizeable over the gleefest of welcoming back to the championship silverware that has been theirs for 10 of the past 11, and offering up the fondest of farewells to departing pair Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton.
“Champions” was a word to which he kept returning as at times he struggled to be heard above the booming chanting of his name around the stadium. “Best on the planet” was fed like candy to his adulatory masses. Before, with voice cracking, he expressed his gratitude with the sort of quip that he has sweetened so many pronouncements across his staggering debut campaign in Scotland: “You’ve embraced me, embraced my family and embraced my jumper”. Only to then end with a pledge that his team would come back “bigger and better because we never stop”.
The outpourings of affection for the departing Rogic and Bitton, with a combined 18 years experience and 34 trophies between them, seemed to leave both choking back the tears. The club gave the club honour of carrying the cinch Premiership silverware out to its plinth for the ceremonial handover. After they had been honoured profoundly by those who follow it. Rogic seemed to dissolve both with the reception accorded him by what seemed the entire stadium on the minute of his number, 18, and when he substituted on the hour and embraced by all his team-mates before a long and smothering bear-hug from Postecoglou. Bitton, perhaps through fitness issues, was only introduced five minutes from time to be showered with affection that rained down for him in the sixth minute.
Motherwell were drenched by a goals deluge that began with Kyogo Furuhashi opening the scoring in 18 minutes when he seized on a poor clearance from a corner clubbed in a low effort. His second, and Celtic’s third, two minutes from the interval was exquisite, the striker tickling a deft one-touch finish beyond Liam Kelly after he allowed a chip from Anthony Ralston to drop over his shoulder. Three minutes earlier, David Turnbull produced a Rogic-esque strike, chopping Ricki Lamie before, with leg outstretched, he jabbed in at the near post.
Jota swept in the fourth on the hour after Daizen Maeda had inadvertently knocked the ball into his path then Giorgos Giakoumakis, off the bench, took over. An outrageous overhead kick produced his team’s fifth in 68 minutes, before the Greek forward earned himself the honour of being joint to league scorer with his 13th of the top flight and 17th of an injury-blighted first season in Scotland. It was just so emblematic for one of the raft of successful Postecoglou signings to then scramble the ball over the line in the final seconds of Celtic’s final game. They never stop, right enough.