With no midweek game to cater for we’ve experienced a particularly noisy build up this week ahead of Sunday’s League Cup Final.
It all started on Tuesday at Hampden as Ange Postecoglou and Michael Beale were shoe-horned into a photo call that neither were comfortable with, and it’s since taken a few twists and turns along the way.
The questionable photo opportunity at the National Stadium did produce one of the images of the season (and maybe in that sense it done its job) but on first viewing it appeared that Ange was being held against his will by his captors at Viaplay.
Thankfully the manager was released in time to provide his thoughts ahead of Sunday’s showdown and as always he delivered those in a calm and measured way.
It can be easy to get caught up in the drama in such a week but as a manager of some 26 years, Ange wasn’t going to be drawn into anything contentious.
Whether we’re hearing from Ange himself, his assistant John Kennedy (who we heard from last week) or from one of his playing squad the tone from Celtic’s football department is always pretty consistent these days.
It’s always one of determination, of belief in the project, and of humility.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
If you weren’t completely sure that Celtic were playing in a Cup Final this weekend then there was a series of little clues littered across this week’s tabloid headlines to help you out.
Here’s just a sample of them. Some of which may not be entirely true.
Can you decide which?
- “Ange Postecoglou To Leave Celtic This Summer“
- “Jota’s Celtic Form Dip Assessed”
- “Ex-Celtic Star Cleared of Careless Driving”
- “The Leeds Utd Move That Could Keep Door Open For Ange”
- “Neil McCann Insists Rangers Can Win Treble”
Every one of these are genuine headlines that appeared across Scotland’s mainstream media this week.
We all know we live in a world full of click-bait headlines but the lack of credibility we’ve seen in recent times truly is a sight to behold.
DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION
Next up on the media merry go round was Rangers sub Fashion Sakala who made the most of his fifteen minutes in front of the mics on Thursday to show just how well his English has progressed since his arrival at Rangers.
Referring to Celtic as “the other mob” the Zambian gave the assembled press exactly what they were hoping for but the suspicions are that perhaps one of his more “local” team-mates put him up to that.
Despite ruffling a few feathers there’s not a lot to be upset about here and anyone who thinks this comment “has Celtic rattled” clearly hasn’t been paying attention.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was asked directly about it today (Friday) and about Sakala’s comments that Rangers are “a better team, and a better club” and the American stopper provided a textbook answer.
“For me I’ve got no problem with it.
Every professional sportsman has to have some kind of level of self-belief to get to where they are.
So for me its just a normal comment for a professional sportsman to make.”
Whether that’s really how he and his team-mates feel about it behind closed doors is almost irrelevant.
From an external viewpoint however, and to the wider audience at large, he simply shut it down and moved on.
Exactly what we’ve come to expect from each and every member of Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
Following the media frenzy that we’ve witnessed throughout the week it perhaps seems appropriate to finish this article on a more calming note and who better to help us do so than Celtic Captain and mainstay Callum McGregor.
Alongside team-mate James Forrest he has more experience than most when it comes to Cup Finals at the National Stadium and his understanding of these occasions will have been invaluable to the group this week.
Like his manager he exudes a quiet confidence and a steely focus ahead of Sunday.
“The momentum in the group’s good.
We trust ourselves, we trust the manager, and we trust in what we’re doing.
And I think if we put all those things together then hopefully we can have a successful afternoon.”
The League Cup was of course the first trophy McGregor lifted as skipper – though he’s now picked up sixteen overall at Celtic – and it’s one he has no intention of giving up.
“We train extremely hard every single day.
We don’t come away from that because it’s a big game or change because of who we’re playing.
We have a real set way of working and every single day we give our maximum.
When we step over that line we’re all together, we have all those leadership qualities which can hopefully make us successful, and that’s what we have to bring to the game.”
With that kind of leadership and drive from the captain and his manager, it’s going to take something spectacular to stop Celtic from retaining the League Cup on Sunday.
Despite a lot of talk from the southside of the city (a lot!) this week it’s going to be actions rather than words that ultimately determine the destination of the trophy.
Expect Celtic to act accordingly come 3pm on Sunday!