Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell believes his side will be going up against one of the best teams Scottish football has seen in decades when they travel to Celtic Park.
The defending Premiership champions are closing in on a second successive title and aiming to keep a long winning streak going on Saturday.
Kettlewell believes Motherwell can end that run but is an admirer of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side and thinks they are of a level that matches some of the best top-flight teams in years.
“I’m a massive, massive Scottish football fan and I have been my entire life,” the Motherwell boss said. “I think you would pitch this Celtic side up there with many other excellent sides.
“You look at Celtic and Rangers teams that have got to European finals and I, for one, would pitch this side right up there with them.
“It’s a different way of playing and I think that’s been the intrigue for a lot of people within Scottish football. There’s different facets, different factors of the game that maybe we haven’t seen at times.”
As he prepares his team for the weekend’s challenge, he says it’s the non-stop concentration of the league winners that poses a real problem for anyone wanting to take points from Celtic, with the team rarely dropping their levels.
“I just keep going back to the fact of their relentless nature,” Kettlewell said. “It’s one thing to be a good side but it’s another thing to continually do that throughout 90 minutes but also do it throughout the full course of a season and cup competitions as well.
“That then becomes a huge challenge for teams that have to face Celtic on a weekly basis because I don’t think that anybody thinks at any point they’ll get a poor version of them. I think in most cases you’re going to get the absolute best.
“It’s what they demand and what the players respond to and it’s my job to make sure that my players respond to that and are well equipped to face it.”
Asked if he felt Postecoglou’s team were as formidable as the Martin O’Neill team that reached the UEFA Cup final in 2003, he said that although the styles were not the same, there was real quality in the current side.
“They’re very different,” he said. “I was speaking to somebody the other day yesterday about how you look at the quality of players that Celtic had then and some of the international players that Rangers have had through time and there are top end guys.
“You’ve got guys coming who have been successful in World Cups and you look at some of the Dutch players or guys like Henrik Larsson who were, for me, up there with the best across Europe.
“I know the game has changed in other leagues and the finances are different but I think what Celtic are doing is unearthing some absolute gems that the top clubs will be sitting up and taking notice of.
“It’s very easy to spend the money and bring in the finished article, it’s another to go into different markets and get players that, let’s be honest, a lot of us had no awareness of.
“Certainly since they’ve put their boots on the ground in Scotland we can see the quality that they bring to Celtic.”