Chris Wilder reckons Glasgow Derby is the biggest in Europe

Chris Wilder has been speaking about Scottish football ahead of this week’s Glasgow Derby match at Celtic Park and reckons that it’s the biggest derby in European football. The former Middlesbrough boss has experienced the game before and was blown away by the atmosphere in the air around thus fixture.

Of course, Wilder is now in charge of English Championship side Watford and was visiting Scotland back in February to take in the Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden Park. Celtic won that game 2-1, and the atmosphere inside the national stadium was electrifying as the Hoops dumped their fierce rivals theRangers out on their backsides’ to lift the trophy – courtesy of a Kyogo Furuhashi brace on the day.

Wilder was in awe of the spectacle that day and reckons that this weekend’s clash of the big two Glasgow clubs will be just as fraught and important in the grand scheme of this campaign. Ange Postecoglou will be looking to stretch his advantage at the apex of Scottish football, whilst his mouthy counterpart, Mick Beale, will be hoping to claw back the deficit with a win in front of a full house of Celtic supporters. Speaking to Daily Record, he said: “theRangers will anticipate a big performance on Saturday, they haven’t had a great record at Celtic Park but a win this weekend can alter the pessimism about their chances of pulling back Celtic in the league title race.

“It’s only been a few weeks since they lost a cup final to their fiercest rivals in their own city and the emotions which go with that will have lingered. It’s not something which is going to be accepted easily and neither should it be. We also have our own rivalries in football and we understand them very well. I’m not from Glasgow but I know the deal with the Old Firm rivalry historically and these are huge occasions for the people who care. This is the biggest derby, every fan in football understands the importance of their own derby but this is the biggest game around, certainly when you look around, it’s the biggest derby certainly in European football.

He said: “That’s my belief but I don’t know how other people see it. I have a lot of friends north of the border who anticipate this game and I know how much it means to them. Edinburgh has their derby, there’s one in Manchester and Liverpool but when you put everything on the table it would be difficult to argue against the Celtic v Rangers derby as being the biggest.The fact it was at a neutral ground and there was an even split of fans created a special atmosphere which will be in stark contrast to this weekend with only Celtic fans at the game which is a shame. I was in with the Rangers fans at Hampden and it was an incredible atmosphere, it was absolutely off the charts from any other derby I’ve been to in every aspect.

Celtic players celebrate Kyogo’s second goal. Photo Angus Johnston for The Celtic Star

He said: “The atmosphere building up to the game and all of the expectations was everything a derby should be and more. It was my first Old Firm game but I’d been threatening it for a long time just as many people do so it was a privilege to be there. I have pals who are Celtic fans and pals who support Rangers and they’ve been trying to drag me up to a game for a while. I also managed to have a few pints as John Fleck who was a player with me at Sheffield United had put a few quid behind the bar at his local so I’d like to thank him for that but I did give him about four contracts.”

The ex-Sheffield United manager revealed that Mick Beale has been up against it since he came back to Ibrox, due to him facing an absolute winning machine in Ange Postecoglou and his Celtic side. “I understand the school of thought that anything less than a Rangers win on Saturday and the title will be gone for them, stated. “It’s been difficult for Michael since he came in as he’s been playing catch-up on Celtic but his record has been excellent. It helps he worked under Steven Gerrard at Ibrox during his time in Glasgow but now he’d doing it himself the expectation level is still huge in every game to try to close that gap.

“Celtic have been relentless but Rangers haven’t been far off that as well. Michael Beale has been spot on since he arrived but everything goes out the window on Saturday as it will be ruthless in terms of there being no hard luck stories allowed or excuses. The bottom line is that you are expected to beat your local rivals. End of story. What makes this such an intriguing game is that Celtic already have one trophy in the bag, they have the league title within touching distance and will want to do the clean sweep which would be another incredible achievement by Ange Postecoglou.

“So there is arguably more pressure on Rangers to get the win. Whoever wins this game will then be heavy favourites to win the Scottish Cup semi-final in a few weeks time so there’s a hell of a lot riding on it. Rangers need to get out the blocks quicker than they did at Hampden and make closer contact. Celtic controlled the performance and ultimately the result so Rangers will want to be more aggressive and have more of the ball. Mentally does the scenario relax Celtic and put more pressure on Rangers? We will soo find out.”

The Englishman is certain that the Hoops would make it down in the Premier League if they were to ever join in the future at some point. He watched them put on a show during the first 45 minutes of our Champions League group stage match back in September, when we should have out two or three past the reigning Kings of Europe. He added: “There’s always a lot of talk about how the Old Firm (sic) would do in the Premier League and where do they stand and there will always be that debate. I would have no doubt they would adjust in one of the best league’s in the world.

“I watched Celtic in the Champions League against Real Madrid and they could have been out of sight in the first half. I take interest in players at both clubs and Rangers reached a European final a few years ago. This is a unique league and second is failure which is different to the majority of leagues which wouldn’t be the case if they were to come down here.”

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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