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Daily Record
Daily Record
Michael Gannon

Stuart Kettlewell aims to recapture Celtic fan fury from last Parkhead visit as Motherwell boss look to spoil the party

The last time Stuart Kettlewell pitched up at Parkhead his side sparked a violent protest outside the ground. Now the Motherwell boss is rocking up in Glasgow’s East End with the task of spoiling the party.

The former Ross County manager had to dodge flying fences on the way out when the Staggies shocked Celtic in the League Cup when supporters were locked out of the ground during covid. The incredible County win was lost in the wash as fan frustration at poor results boiled over and resulted in pitch forks outside Parkhead calling for manager Neil Lennon’s head.

Kettlewell sensed the tension in the air back then but the scene couldn’t be much more different as he attempts another stunning success with Motherwell tomorrow. Celtic fans are expecting confetti to be thrown rather than missiles and Kettlewell knows the job in hand could be much harder with Ange Postecoglou's men flying.

There was a large police presence as fans gathered outside Celtic Park (SNS Group)

He said: “The major talking point that day was the Celtic supporters turning up to the ground during covid and it ended up with fencing being thrown around and so on. I looked at it a different way and it was Ross County winning at Celtic Park and breaking that cycle they had of 34 cup games without defeat over about four years.

“I don’t think the players got enough credit because the narrative was about the events outside the stadium. It was a different situation back then. We went into that day knowing both managers were under pressure. I certainly knew I was at the time and from the support, the media and everything, Neil was also under pressure.

“It’s a completely different context this time. It’s a different Celtic team and a completely different football club now in terms of the manager, the players, the staff – everything is completely different. I wouldn’t imagine there will be any protests this weekend!

“But we need to act accordingly. Those are good memories for, obviously a career highlight and something you can draw on.

“I’m not saying it will impact this weekend but you can draw on certain elements, like being compact and hard to beat, while posing a threat at the other end. What happened that day was a version of how you can play when you are a massive underdog going away from home.”

(Press Association)

Kettlewell has spent more than 20 years around the top flight as player and boss – and he reckons Postecoglou’s side are up there with top class Martin O’Neill’s Celtic and Dick Advocaat’s Rangers sides.

He said: “I think it is, yeah. I’m a massive Scottish football fan and have been my entire life.

“I think you would pitch this team up there with many other excellent sides - Celtic and Rangers sides who have got to European finals. I, for one, would pitch this side right up there with those.
“It’s a different way of playing. That’s been the intriguing thing. We’re seeing different factors and facets.

“I keep coming back to this relentless nature. It’s one thing to be a good side. It’s another to do that through a full 90 minutes and then through the full course of a season, in cup competitions as well.

“That becomes a huge challenge for the teams who have to face Celtic on a weekly basis. Because I don’t think anyone sits and thinks they’re going to get a poor version of them.

“You look at some of the players Celtic had then and the international players Rangers have had, too. There have been guys coming from World Cups and Larsson and all these types of players.

“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 top clubs will be sitting up and taking note of.

“Full credit to them for doing that. It’s very easy to spend money and get the finished article. It’s another thing to go into different markets and bring in players who have shown their quality here since they put their boots on the ground.”

Ange Postecoglou's Celtic are up there with the best Scottish football has seen, says Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell (SNS Group)

Kettlewell is looking for any slight chinks in the Celtic armour – but it takes a forensic examination to find any. Even next week’s Old Firm Scottish Cup showdown with Rangers could provide hope the Hoops eyes might be off the ball.

But Kettlewell said: “Let’s be honest, Celtic are going to win the league. They are only a couple of victories away and I believe the nature of the manager and what he’s creating, they’ll have this focus on trying to get that job done as quick as they possibly can

“They have a massive game next week – but I don’t think that changes their mindset. We’ve seen in the past it can change the team selection and they can try to protect for the next game.

“I’ve not seen any evidence of that in this Celtic team. We have to be competitive in this game and give our best version of ourselves for 90 mins.”

Kettlewell was also part of the Ross County side who dumped Celtic out of the Scottish Cup at Hampden in 2010 and knows how to take advantage if the Hoops aren’t quite on it. Only problem is, it’s not happening much under Postecoglou.

Kettlewell said: “It’s fair to say you have to hope they are not firing on all cylinders while you are at the absolute peak of your game.

“But those days are rarer right now. We’ve seen in the last two seasons, those off days have become few and far between.

“But you have to make sure what you do can maybe make them a lesser version of what they have been. It’s about finding a formula.”


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