SPL

Alistair Johnston: No heads to turn amid Spurs speculation with all eyes on cup

By Sports Desk June 01, 2023

Celtic defender Alistair Johnston is confident they will not be blown off course by speculation over their manager ahead of the Scottish Cup final.

Johnston admits hearing talk of Tottenham’s reported interest in Ange Postecoglou is unavoidable, but the manager and skipper Callum McGregor especially will not allow it to become a distraction.

The right-back, who has been passed fit for Saturday’s Hampden clash with Inverness, said: “Trust me, we all hear the noise. We have got Sky Sports on and it seems like every other story that’s running is that one.

“But it comes from the top down for us; Cal doesn’t let any noise in and the gaffer definitely doesn’t let any noise in. It’s just been the gaffer as I know him and I don’t think anyone was expecting anything different.

“This ship is steering straight where it needs to go right to that cup final.

“We just don’t let that kind of stuff creep into the building in terms of letting guys’ heads turn.

“That’s super important and I think that goes to show why this club has been so successful, we don’t let that kind of stuff affect players.

“You can always tell when someone’s head is turned or something is going on, they just play a little bit off, or they don’t truly feel all the way there.

“But that’s never been the case at all in my time here. Even when guys were leaving, and guys did leave in that January window, everyone was still training as hard as possible up until the day they left.

“I found that very impressive but, again, that comes from the top down. You are not allowed to have a wandering eye, because if you do you are going to get found out and this squad is so deep that you will be out of the squad as quick as that. That’s what we have here and I think that’s really special.

“I know there’s a lot of talk but we are not bothered, we are not worrying about that, we are just focused on this cup final.”

The Canada international has not felt the need for anyone inside Celtic Park to give the players any reassurances over Postecoglou’s future.

“None of it’s really needed,” he said. “We are all professionals, we understand it’s going to come with the job. When you are super successful, you are going to be linked with other things.

“We don’t feel that’s something that needs to be brought up because it’s just a distraction.

“No words need to be spoken about that. It’s simple: head down, work hard, and hope you are going to be in the squad for the cup final and have a chance to lift the trophy.”

Celtic fans are searching for clues that might mean their popular manager decides to stay in Glasgow despite the lure of the Premier League, and Johnston feels there is a real determination from Postecoglou and his players to improve in the Champions League next season.

Another title win ensured they will be in the group stage again and they are looking to improve on their two-point tally from last season.

Johnston said: “I have just gotten here. He was a big reason, just talking to him and seeing how he plays and his goals for the club, not only domestically but in the Champions League as well.

“Obviously I wasn’t here for the run this year but the guys felt they left a little on the table, the performances were strong but the results maybe weren’t. So I think everybody is excited to have another crack at it.

“We have a lot of really determined and hungry individuals who want to prove that, just because we are in Scotland, doesn’t mean we can’t compete with those massive European clubs.

“That’s really important to us and important to the manager as well.

“That’s something we are all building towards. The gaffer has been signing players with that intention. In my talk with him, it was that we want to be dominant domestically but we also want to take that next step at the international level, and that’s something we are going to be looking for next season especially.”

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