Postecoglou heads home in clover - even the surfers on Bondi beach know Celtic can now only throw it away

Ange Postecoglou seemed content in the knowledge last week that he had a nifty line to shut down those referencing Celtic’s lead over Rangers, which had just increased to seven points.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou signed autographs well into the evening outside Celtic Park after his side's 2-1 win over Ross County on Saturday.  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou signed autographs well into the evening outside Celtic Park after his side's 2-1 win over Ross County on Saturday. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Celtic manager was quick to remind reporters and anyone else who happened to mention it that there had been an eight-point swing last season, so there was little point anyone getting carried away.

He was, of course, spot on. However, maybe it’s just as well he is heading to Australia this week with his club and able to avoid too many questions about what now appears such a moribund title race.

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It would be harder to come up with such an effective answer after Celtic’s position at the top improved further over the weekend courtesy of their comeback win over Ross County and the loss of another two points by Rangers at St Mirren. Even the surfers on Bondi beach will know Celtic can now only throw away the Premiership title.

The champions’ lead now stands at nine points and their vastly superior goal difference is worth another point. In the three-points-for-a-win era, even losing a nine-point lead at this stage would be unprecedented.

It was possible to fear for Postecoglou slightly when he joked earlier this year, following confirmation of Celtic’s trip his homeland to compete in the Sydney Super Cup, that it least it meant he would still be in a job then.

When he made this quip, Celtic had already overhauled Rangers at the top and it was looking good for him after a League Cup final win over Hibs. But in the volatile world of the Old Firm, little is assured. After all, it's possible Postecoglou could well return from Australia with someone new to pit his wits against across the city at Ibrox.

His own position seems completely secure – unless Celtic somehow collapse. That doesn’t seem likely. Indeed, the main takeaway from the post-match interviews at Celtic Park on Saturday was that Celtic will only be better when the league resumes. Both David Turnbull and Postecoglou stressed this would be the case.

It would take Celtic deciding to emigrate while down under for Rangers to wrestle back the title and even then, such is their current form, they could easily crumble under the challenge over the shoulder from Aberdeen and even Livingston.

It’s little wonder that the Green Brigade began singing “We’re gonna win the league!” at 4.29pm. That wasn’t 4.29pm on a fine day in April or early May. It was 4.29pm on 12 November.

It was shortly after Sead Haksabanovic had put Celtic ahead for the first time in the afternoon against Ross County, who opened the scoring through David Cancola’s penalty. Turnbull equalised before Haksabanovic curled in a second.

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It was always likely the home players would circle the pitch at the end to wave farewell to their fans. They will not see most of them for over a month. But there was an unmistakable air of triumph as they completed the lap.

Later, outside Parkhead, Postecoglou was still signing autographs long after 6pm. There were hundreds of fans waiting in line and he seemed intent on responding to every well-wisher.

So, yes, very much still in a job. And liable to be so for some time to come.

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