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POSTECOGLOU DEALS IN HOOPS IN TITLE RACE, INSISTS EX-CELT

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FORMER Celtic midfielder Kris Commons claims his old club are in the driver’s seat in the pursuit of the title – and they can only blow the bid for their tenth championship in 11 years.

The one-time Hoops fans’ favourite has been massively impressed by Ange Postecoglou’s work in the January transfer market and insisted the new Bhoys will prove the difference at the end of the season.

The Parkhead brought in five recruits – three J-League stars Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi, plus MK Dons midfielder Matt Riley and Sligo Rovers teenage striker Johnny Kenny who is viewed as one for the future.

At the same time, Rangers introduced four new players, but Commons reckons Postecoglou has done better than his opposite number Giovanni van Bronckhorst during the window – and that will prove critical when the silverware is being handed out at the end of May.

REO BRAVO…Japanese new Bhoy Reo Hatate has hit the ground running.

The former Scotland international playmaker said: “There’s now a ruthlessness to this Celtic team. A relentless streak which, from their position at the top of the table, means it’s now their title to lose from here.

“They have all the momentum. That can take you a long way, but there’s also the fact that, quite simply, they are just playing a much better brand of football than Rangers.

“In terms of the style being implemented by both managers, Celtic are further along their journey under Postecoglou than Rangers are under Van Bronckhorst.

“The Dutchman got his tactics totally wrong in the Old Firm game.

“Rangers sat far too deep and were too passive, allowing Celtic all sorts of space in the wide channels.

“Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley absolutely strolled their way through the game, with the Japanese midfielder proving to be the matchwinner with two excellent goals.

“Signed for roughly £1.5million apiece, they already look to be two outstanding acquisitions for Celtic, adding to several others brought to the club by Postecoglou.

“Kyogo Furuhashi is the pick of the bunch in that respect.”

OH, BHOY O’RILEY…£1.5million midfielder Matt O’Riley arrived from MK Dons.

Commons, writing in his Daily Mail column, continued: “Liel Abada continues to make a brilliant impact, albeit slightly under the radar.

“The little Israeli winger now has 14 goals and 11 assists in all competitions, an outstanding return in early February for a 20-year-old in his first season with the club.

“You’ve then got Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers, two loan players who I’m sure Postecoglou would dearly love to tie down on permanent deals.

“Josip Juranovic has been a sensational find, as well. A proper all-court footballer who excels in a number of positions, he was brilliant against Rangers. Daizen Maeda looks to be a decent addition up front, while Carl Starfelt is slowly but surely starting to come on to a game.

“Compare that to how Rangers have recruited over the past year or so. Of their summer signings last year, none of John Lundstram, Fashion Sakala or Juninho Bacuna have made any appreciable impact.

“Indeed, Bacuna has already been moved on to Birmingham City. Meanwhile, Rangers have opted for box-office January signings like Amad Diallo and Aaron Ramsey.”

Commons added: “A lot of people are focusing on the fact that Manchester United spent £37million on Diallo, as though that’s some sort of guarantee about his ability. But it doesn’t work like that. Given the current state of affairs at Old Trafford, I wouldn’t trust United to spend £37million on anyone. Diallo was swallowed up by the occasion against Celtic.

“Ramsey came off the bench to make his debut against Hearts yesterday and Rangers must hope he gets himself up to full speed as soon as possible.

LIGHT BLUE HEAVEN…Alfredo Morelos celebrates his second strike against Hearts with Ryan Jack about to join in.

FASHION STATEMENT…speedy frontman Fashion Sakala celebrates his goal in style.

“They don’t have time to ease him in gently. They need players who can hit the ground running and are ready to go flat-out from now until the end of the season.

“Because one thing’s for sure. Celtic are now the pacesetters.

“They are the best team in the league right now and it’s up to Rangers to catch them.”

All eyes were on the Glasgow giants yesterday with Celtic meeting Motherwell at Fir Park in the 1.30pm kick-off with Rangers due for a 4pm home start against Hearts.

The Hoops staged an action replay of the first-half whirlwind that blew away Van Bronckhorst’s side when they went in three goals to the good with a double from Tom Rogic after Abada had opened the scoring. Maeda completed the 4-0 rout with another in the 71st minute.

The champions replied with a superb display of their own with Alfredo Morelos netting two and Glenn Kamara, Scott Arfield and Sakala also on target in a runaway 5-0 success over a ragged Edinburgh outift.

Postecoglou now lakes the league leaders to Pittodrie on Wednesday to face Scott Brown and his Aberdeen team-mates while Van Bronckhorst’s men will welcome Shaun Maloney’s Hibs to Ibrox.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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