Celtic v Rangers: The opinions that matter

AS Celtic prepare to face Glaswegian rivals Rangers in the first “Old Firm” derby since April 2012, many of those past and present who have or have not been involved in the famous fixture give their views.

Celtic v Rangers in the SPL (October 2010)

THE build-up to any derby is naturally going to generate widespread interest but when the two sides have not locked horns in almost three years, it takes on added significance.

This weekend, Celtic and Rangers lock horns for the first time since April 2012 with a place in March’s Scottish League Cup Final up for grabs.

With the Old Firm rivalry being renewed and the two Glaswegian rivals currently in two different divisions, the intrigue surrounding this semi-final is at fever pitch as Hampden Park will be on Sunday.

Therefore it is no surprise that everyone from Scottish football fans to Kenny Dalglish have been having their say before the players go outside and sort this out once and for all.

It is relatively unusual for supporters to get the mind games rolling but that’s exactly what the Celtic fans have been doing with suggestions that it should be referred to as a Glasgow rather than Old Firm derby in reference to Rangers re-launching as a “new company”.

Interesting stuff. Talk about banging the drum…

Here are some of those opinions and then you can decide for yourself:

On target: Stokes celebrates his goal against Motherwell at Fir Park in December
On target: Stokes celebrates his goal against Motherwell at Fir Park in December

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes (speaking to the Scotsman):

“It is a one-off game and I think the form book goes out the window, especially when it is a rivalry of this magnitude, especially with us not playing them for so long.

“For me it has always been the biggest game.

“It is great to play in Europe but with the rivalry and what it brings to the city it is a special occasion and something I am really looking forward to.

“This could arguably be the biggest because because of the time that has passed since we last played them.”

 

Man with the plan: Smith masterminded many a triumph over Celtic as manager of Rangers between 1991 and 1998 and 2007 and 2011
Man with the plan: Smith masterminded many a triumph over Celtic as manager of Rangers between 1991 and 1998 and 2007 and 2011

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith (speaking to the Daily Record):

“You go to England and there is Everton v Liverpool, Manchester United v Manchester City, I have experienced the two of them. The Old Firm game has an edge to it that is missing in these matches.

“But I can’t say that I miss them. On the other hand I say they are necessary. They are necessary for everyone else except maybe the two managers.

“Scottish football needs it; needs a Rangers v Celtic game. The profile that this game will achieve over Europe, and even the world, will be massive and it gets that profile focused onto Scottish football again, which we are struggling to achieve at European level at present.”

 

No complacency: Gordon - who is set for an Old Firm debut on Sunday - says it is not a forgone conclusion that Celtic will beat Rangers
No complacency: Gordon – who is set for an Old Firm debut on Sunday – says it is not a forgone conclusion that Celtic will beat Rangers

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon (speaking to the Scottish Daily Mail):

“Is it a 50-50 game? They probably always are 50/50 games, regardless of who’s playing for the two sides.

“Rangers still have enough quality in their team to win a game so we’ll be looking at ourselves and our preparation.

“The form book goes out the window in Celtic-Rangers matches. There are two sides with 11 men desperate to win the game. And when you have that, anything can happen.”

From the blue side: McLeish managed Rangers for five years before a mutual decision was made to end his tenure in 2006
From the blue side: McLeish managed Rangers for five years before a mutual decision was made to end his tenure in 2006

Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish (speaking to STV Sport):

“Normally Celtic should win because of the difference in quality but it is a cup tie and an Old Firm game. Rangers will probably raise their game big time.

“I think the important players next week are going to be the experienced Rangers players. That could be key.

“We saw big FA Cup shocks at the weekend and there’s no reason why Rangers can’t do that.”

 

Luckless: Lennon did not win the League Cup during his four and a half year stint as Celtic manager
Luckless: Lennon did not win the League Cup during his four and a half year stint as Celtic manager

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon (speaking to STV):

“Yeah I mean I know there’s a debate that it is not Rangers, it’s a newco, this that and the other. Listen when it comes to Sunday and the stadium is packed, people will know what it is all about.

“Regardless of the position in the league, regardless of what has gone on in the last three or four years, I think everyone from a fan’s point of view will be looking forward to the game. Now Rangers fans might not but that’s just the nature of the beast.

“Anything can happen in a derby and if Celtic play as well as they can then they should be comfortable winners.”

 

Familiar face: Dalglish played for Celtic during the 1970s and briefly managed the Parkhead club at the turn of the century
Familiar face: Dalglish played for Celtic during the 1970s and briefly managed the Parkhead club at the turn of the century

Former Celtic striker and manager Kenny Dalglish (speaking to the Scotsman):

“It’s a massive game, everybody knows what it stands for. Even if it’s your first venture into one, you soon realise what it means. Everybody who has played football knows the importance of a derby match, and the one you’re involved in is the most important.

“If you are born in Glasgow, you know the magnitude of the game and what it means to win it. That tells you it doesn’t matter what state either club is in, or how long it’s been since they played each other. So that feeling will not be diluted or devalued on Sunday. Both sets of fans have really missed the Old Firm games.”

 

Experienced campaigner: McDowall has been part of the Old Firm derby as a Rangers player, first-team coach and assistant manager over the past 18 years
Experienced campaigner: McDowall has been part of the Old Firm derby as a Rangers player, first-team coach and assistant manager over the past 18 years

Rangers caretaker manager Kenny McDowall (speaking to the Scotsman):

“There is probably as big a gap between the teams as there has ever been. Celtic are favourites for it and rightly so.

“I think it will be a fantastic occasion. It has been three years and it has finally arrived. It will be massive because it has been so long, but this is what you are in the game for.

“It is a cup game and we know anything can happen. You need a bit of luck on the day, but you need to play well on the day as well.”

He added when talking to BBC Scotland: “I think Scottish football needs this fixture. Hopefully it will help Scotland get back to better things in the future.”

 

First timer: Deila has only ever watched an Old Firm derby on television before but will be in the thick of the action on Sunday
First timer: Deila has only ever watched an Old Firm derby on television before but will be in the thick of the action on Sunday

Celtic manager Ronny Deila (speaking to BBC Scotland):

“It’s a first meeting with Rangers for me. It’s exciting. It’s going to be loud and it’s going to be a very good day.

“There is a lot of emotion. It means a lot to people, the whole city. Football needs derbies like that. A lot goes into the game, it’s not just going to the final.

“You can feel the atmosphere in the city. Right now it feels like the most important thing in the world.”

 

Veteran: Rangers captain Lee McCulloch made his Old Firm debut at Ibrox in a 3-0 SPL win in October 2007
Veteran: Rangers captain Lee McCulloch made his Old Firm debut at Ibrox in a 3-0 SPL win in October 2007

Rangers captain Lee McCulloch (speaking to BBC Scotland):

“Obviously Celtic for this one are resounding favourites, so we are just looking to give a good account of ourselves and hopefully get through to the final.

“Form goes out of the window as this is a one-off.

“It’s up to us to try to prove people wrong about their opinion and persona of where we’re at just now and show we have got character in the dressing-room and that we have got leaders that can lead a dressing-room to an Old Firm victory.”

 

Leading by example: Celtic skipper Scott Brown will relish the midfield battle with his Rangers counterparts in the derby atmosphere
Leading by example: Celtic skipper Scott Brown will relish the midfield battle with his Rangers counterparts in the derby atmosphere

Celtic captain Scott Brown (speaking to BBC Scotland):

“It is good for Scottish football because everyone all over the world will be watching and hopefully we can put on a show for them. Do we miss Rangers? Yes, on occasions like this.

“It is good to have the hype of the game and the fans having the banter between one another. It is going to be a terrific occasion and everyone’s counting down the days now. It will be exciting.

“Every Celtic-Rangers game, everyone relishes, especially on the big occasions going out in front of 50,000 at Hampden. The atmosphere as soon as you walk out on to that pitch, hairs stand up on the back of your neck.”

 

Neil McCann (Sky Sports pundit - Hamilton v Celtic 17th Jan 2015)

Sky Sports pundit and former Rangers defender Neil McCann (speaking to Daily Mail):

“Rangers are in real trouble at the moment. The sides are worlds apart in terms of the performances on the pitch. It could be really tough for Rangers.

“You just want to see Rangers back for the good of Scottish football. We knew this game would come around. We would have liked to see it in the top league but it’s the cup and one team are going in very strong and another who are a lot weaker.

“But I still believe Rangers have guys in that squad who, if they get things right tactically, there is a chance an upset could happen.”

 

Off the boil: On-loan Manchester City forward Guidetti has not found the back of the net since November
Off the boil: On-loan Manchester City forward Guidetti has not found the back of the net since November

Celtic striker John Guidetti (speaking to BBC Scotland):

“I fancy three [against Rangers at Hampden Park]. That is what I did against Ajax when I was with Feyenoord and that’s the aim this time.

“Big games are what I love the most.”

 

Looking ahead: Celtic fans will be optimistic but bullish about their chances of reaching a first League Cup final since 2009
Looking ahead: Celtic fans will be optimistic but bullish about their chances of reaching a first League Cup final since 2009

The Supporters View:

One thought on “Celtic v Rangers: The opinions that matter”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s