Alistair Johnston: Manager speculation won't affect cup final focus

The Celtic defender says players are well aware of the talk surrounding Ange Postecoglou.

Alistair Johnston: Manager speculation won’t affect Celtic’s cup final focus SNS Group

Alistair Johnston admits Celtic’s players are following all of the speculation about Ange Postecoglou’s future – but vows it won’t be a distraction from the Scottish Cup final.

The build-up to Saturday’s showdown with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, which could see Celtic complete a clean sweep of domestic trophies, has been overshadowed by reports that Tottenham Hotspur have identified Ange Postecoglou as the man they want as their next manager.

Johnston said that it was impossible not to have heard the talk surrounding the club but that captain Callum McGregor and Postecoglou himself ensured that nobody was allowing themselves to be diverted from the task ahead.

“Trust me, we all hear the noise,” the full-back said. “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.”

Johnston was added to the squad in winter as Postecoglou prepared for the imminent exit of Josip Juranovic and he says he realised very quickly that keeping focus and maintaining standards was a priority in the squad.

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

“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 said players didn’t need any assurances or explanations from Postecoglou about his future, and that links with other clubs were just part of being successful in football.

However, Johnston said that the manager had been a major factor in persuading him to move to Celtic and that he had been sold on an ambition to dominate in Scotland and advance on the European stage.

“I have just gotten here,” he said. “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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