Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou expects Saturday’s clash with Rangers to bear all the usual Old Firm hallmarks despite the title being in the bag already.
The newly-crowned cinch Premiership champions have the chance to go a whole season unbeaten against Rangers and Postecoglou feels their trip to Ibrox presents the chance to give their supporters another memorable moment.
Celtic have beaten their city rivals twice at Hampden this season as well as taking seven points in the league and Rangers manager Michael Beale is under pressure to get one over on his opposite number for the first time.
Postecoglou, who has a fitness concern over midfielder Aaron Mooy, said: “If we were going there to win it (the title) there would probably be more hype around it so from that perspective it doesn’t feel as intense in terms of the build-up, but I don’t think that will diminish the game itself.
“I still think it will have all the elements you expect in a derby game.
“All these things have context. Our goal every year is to be champions. The last couple of years it gets you into the Champions League and everything that brings with it.
“That’s where the ambitions lie but within that you have these individual contests that you know are important and significant to the club and every derby is that kind of game.
“It’s an opportunity to win against a very good team and the team closest to us in the table, a game that always means something to our supporters.
“It’s an opportunity to create another significant moment for us.”
Celtic are six games unbeaten against Rangers but Postecoglou does not feel that extending that run would have a lasting impact.
“I don’t think it gives you any sort of significant edge in terms of next year,” he said.
“We just want to finish the season strong and it’s a chance to have a look at a couple of things as well from a team perspective building into next year.
“We will use these games to make sure we are ready for the cup final and also have a look at a few things that we want to work with.”
The 57-year-old was earlier nominated for the PFA Scotland manager of the year award.
Two days earlier Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate and Callum McGregor were nominated for the top Premiership player, and Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley were shortlisted for the young player prize.
Postecoglou said: “It’s recognition for all the staff, everyone involved and all the players and reflective of the year we have had.
“We want to be successful every year, in many ways that’s demanded of us. So if you perform at those levels, the individual recognition comes along with it.
“I am pleased for the lads who got nominated. We could have had another half dozen in there because it’s been a real collective effort.”
Meanwhile, Postecoglou dismissed early speculation over his transfer business after being linked with a move for 25-year-old Japanese midfielder Ryotaro Ito of Albirex Niigata.
Postecoglou said: “It’s fair to say if they are taking punts now they are well, well, well off the mark. Well off the mark. Without talking about specific players.”
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