THERE was a feeling of déjà vu in Paisley after 45 minutes on Sunday.
St Mirren, the only domestic side to have inflicted a defeat on Celtic this season, were 1-0 up going into the break following an unsurprisingly dubious call from VAR to award a penalty to the hosts.
Mark O’Hara converted after just six minutes, but the Saints, who had been performing admirably and were limiting the Hoops’ chances, had Charles Dunne sent off for pulling back Kyogo when he was in on goal in the 38th minute.
Of course, such a development is going to turn the game on its head – especially against a team that’s in scintillating form.
Following the re-start, Ange Postecoglou’s men took control, winning 1-5 with goals from Jota, Alistair Johnston, Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley and an Oh spot-kick.
The scoreline means Celtic have scored 250 goals under Ange Postecoglou in just under 100 competitive matches, which equates to an average of almost exactly 2.5 goals a game.
The big Aussie has certainly fulfilled his June 2021 assurance that, under his guidance, the Bhoys would be an outfit that would show no let-up in attack.
Goals can come from anywhere in the team. This season Celtic have had 19 different scorers in the Premiership, the highest number of any club.
Relentless, ruthless, and consistent, they are reaping their rewards by sitting comfortably at the summit of the table – nine points ahead of Rangers.
The manager said post-match on Sunday: “We knew it would be a tough challenge for us here and after the penalty decision we had to maintain our composure and discipline and I thought the lads did that.
“It would’ve been very easy, say at 3-1, for us to just cruise through the rest of the game but it’s not who we are. We’re going right to the final whistle.”
And we know he’s not keen on VAR, which deemed that Dunne’s foul on Kyogo was outside the box. Postecoglou commented: “VAR doesn’t miss anything by the looks of it, especially with us.”
It was also hilarious to feel the pain of Guardian journalist Ewan Murray (certainly no stranger to having a pop at Celtic), who appeared to question why Ange was praising his players for the victory.
On Twitter, he said: ““Relentless” and “outstanding” among terms used by Ange Postecoglou. Against 10 men and a club whose annual wage bill is about the same as Celtic recently spent on a right back, you’d like to think so.”
es, Celtic have vastly superior resources than St Mirren. However, there’s an easy answer for that - they are the biggest club in the country.
Largest support base + being well-run financially + shrewd recruitment = success and trophies.
Some simply fail to grasp this. The Bhoys’ domination this season has left Mr Murray with a bitter taste in his mouth. And things are only going to get worse for him.
Next up is a double header against Hearts, the team that he supports.
Firstly, the Jambos travel to Parkhead for a league clash on Wednesday (kick-off 7.45pm), followed by a lunch-time Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle three days later (kick-off 12.15pm).
Robbie Neilson’s men sit third in the league and usually present a stern test.
Wednesday will be Postecoglou’s 100th game as boss, but Hearts haven’t won at Celtic Park in 14 years, and with the men in green and white firing on all cylinders, I can only see three points going to the home side.
It’s Saturday that will be the more intriguing of the two.
Last October saw a thriller play out as the Bhoys won 3-4 (Hearts were awarded two penalties). But it showed that nothing is guaranteed in a trip to Edinburgh, and if the treble dream is to stay alive, there can be no thought of allowing the standards to slip.
Abada made a massive difference from the bench at the weekend. He rifled in Celtic’s third and can probably count himself unlucky not to have started more games of late.
Israel boss Alon Hazan said he believes the winger hasn’t signed a new contract at the club due to finding himself sitting on the sidelines.
I’m not suggesting that talks over a new deal have hit a complete roadblock, and it must be noted that his current contract runs until the summer of 2026.
But if the 21 year-old doesn’t see his long-term future in Glasgow, then selling him at the end of the season will be an option. Let’s be clear, though, I want Abada to stay. He’s a major threat in front of goal and frightens the life out of domestic back-lines with his pace and direct play.
However, what Celtic can’t do is have someone who will allow their deal to run down to a point where the club winds up with a transfer fee that’s considerably smaller than what they should be getting. One only needs to look across the city to see that exact situation playing out.
So-called ‘assets’ such as Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are set to become free agents this summer, and are even able to sign pre-contracts with other clubs at the moment.
Yes, that’s the same Morelos who Rangers rejected a £20m from Lille three years ago. And who could forget the £30m in wages he snubbed from China?
Their world is crumbling while Celtic’s is flourishing. Twenty-two trophies in 11 years versus their two. It’s obvious who sets the standards in Scotland.