Ange Postecoglou has united Celtic players & fans, they can challenge for title, says Hartson

SIX weeks ago John Hartson couldn’t in all honesty predict Celtic would compete for the Scottish Premiership title this season.

The Celtic icon feared it would take a year or two of work before the Hoops would compete with Rangers for the league crown but that was before Ange Postecoglou’s effect began to take shape both on the pitch and in the stands.

The roar from the Celtic supporters when the manager applauded them following the 6-0 rout over St Mirren evidenced the new-found belief under the new boss.

And Hartson reckons this Sunday’s Old Firm derby will be a solid measuring stick for the Hoops’ progress in such a short space of time.

“Six weeks ago I was one saying it might take Celtic a year or two to challenge again”, admitted  Hartson.

“But you look at how Rangers have slipped up recently and how they struggled against an Alashkert team that scraped past Andy Morrison’s Connays Quay.

“Football isn’t a switch that can be turned off and on. Sunday will tell us a lot in terms of how far Celtic have come in those six weeks.

“But I’m a lot more confident that they will be competitive than I was back then.

“In a short space of time Ange has united the crowd and the dressing room.

“There’s a feel-good factor at the club. There’s a real togetherness and they are playing with a purpose.

“That front six will frighten any team. They are on a crest of the wave and there’s one thing that guarantees good team spirit – that’s winning games.

“Everything falls in to place if you are winning regularly.

“It’s like Martin O’Neill used to say to us sometimes, ‘Just go out and f****** win lads’.

“We had goals from everywhere in our team and it’s getting a bit like that now.

“Ange has done some fantastic work already. No one had heard of him while the club dallied over Eddie Howe, but look at the impact he’s made.

“Look at the likes of Kyogo – what a find. The great thing is he says there’s more to come.”

Before the trip to Ibrox on Sunday, Celtic have the small matter of a journey to the Netherlands for the second-leg of the Europa League play-off against AZ Alkmaar.

The Hoops head into the match with a two-goal cushion and Hartson is confident of a good result if the defence can hold firm, as he believes there will be chances for Celtic to find a goal themselves.

“We’ve seen Celtic away from home in Europe and they’ve tended to lose early goals. That puts them right on the back foot”, he added.

“They need to stay in the game for 35 minutes and with the players and the pace they have I fancy Celtic to score.

“They are trouncing teams in Scotland and with the movement and technique I fancy them to create chances out there.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992