ANGE POSTECOGLOU, the Celtic manager, has rebuffed suggestions that Rangers will provide the motivation ahead of the Parkhead side’s return to the Champions League next season.

The Ibrox side will go up against Eintracht Frankfurt this week as they look to become the first Scottish side since the Aberdeen team of 1983 to win a European trophy. 

Postecoglou, though, has dismissed any suggestion that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have shown Celtic how it’s done.  

"I just don't use any other club as a reference point for us,” said the Greek Australian. “I said it a few weeks back and I think people took it the wrong way when I said if I need inspiration, I just need to look at the trophy we've won in Europe. That's not because I am trying to downplay anybody else's achievements. You don't need any other reference points. The reference points are in this building. I see them every day.

"I met Martin O'Neill on Thursday night and he took this club to the UEFA Cup final, that's our reference points. That's the level we have been in and want to continue to be in. I don't want to downplay Rangers' achievements or any other club’s but I am not going to use them as reference point to who we are or how good we can be. I know what we need to be, it's everywhere I look at this football club.” 

One of the perks of this season’s title is automatic entry into the group stages of the Champions League. And while the lucrative element of Europe’s premier competition is immediately notable there are other significant benefits that it will lend to Celtic’s preparations for the forthcoming season. With a World Cup looming six months down the line, the ferocity of a two-pronged campaign in the first-half of the season will be particularly arduous.  

"People focus on the financial rewards you get for the group stage but what is just as important to me is you can put in a pre-season programme with certainty and the players can get some decent time off, which they are going to need after our season,” said Postecoglou.

"We can look at our recruitment and know we are in the Champions League group stage rather than having to wait to see how we get on through the qualifiers and then trying to identify players to bring in. There's a whole range of benefits is gives you. It gives us certainty around our programme and the way we work and hopefully gives us a better chance to be prepared for the Premiership season, the Cup competitions and the Champions League by having that certainty.” 

If this week is anything to go, the next wave of Postecoglou’s chapter is already looming into sharp focus. Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton have left the club while pushing Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers for a decision is likely to be next on the agenda before decisions are made on summer additions. The Champions League provides an added carrot in that respect.

"That was the extra incentive to win the title this year, not that we needed one after last year - we wanted to reclaim the title,” said Postecoglou. “I also felt that it was a great opportunity for us to accelerate our rebuilding of this team, being in the Champions League gives you the opportunity to make that part of the recruitment strategy for keeping existing players. All those things were a great incentive for winning the title this year. The timing of it was perfect for us and hopefully it can help; accelerate our growth and improvement of the club.

"You saw in the first half of the season that we struggled in not having a strong enough squad. We had a lot of injuries and overburdened some players who just got through. That was the reason for bolstering the squad in January, it wasn't just for the second half of this year but looking ahead to next year. We thought we could bring in some good players and people in from Japan because I knew the Japanese season was finished, so that was the ideal time. We probably didn't need to bring in three but the three I identified would not just help us this year but having a stronger squad for next year.

"That's what we'll be looking to do in the summer window, making sure the squad is stronger and more robust and increase the quality of our starting players. We won't bring as many players in obviously, it will be more targeted so that the players we bring in can make an impact on our team.” 

And Postecoglou has insisted that there will be no “scrambling about” at the end of the window for new arrivals.  

“People will eventually figure out I am always trying to think a step ahead,” he said.  “The reason we brought three midfielders in during January was because I knew what the likely outcome was going to be at the end of the year and want to be step ahead in planning for these things so we are not scrambling at the last minute.  

“It all works hand in hand. All these discussions are happening in the background. It's not just about the present, it's about the future and it's an area of the park we need to bolster.

"We probably still need to sign another one in the midfield area but having signed the three boys in January means they are already bedded into our football club, our style, our training, which gives us a head start, whereas if we had left it to the end of the year, potentially they would have needed more thought.”