BRENDAN RODGERS cleverly heaped the pressure on Rangers by reminding them that Sunday’s semi-final is the game that they were cheering for when the two semi-finals were drawn from the hat.
At that time, with Celtic due at Ibrox, there was over optimism at Ibrox after they had beaten Falkirk in the quarter finals. But Celtic soon put them in their place – coming from behind twice, before going a man down then scoring a sensational winner. Since then the Ibrox optimism-ometer has been deflated to say the least.
Even on their forums there are few making bold claims of success on Sunday and this has resulted in such a low key build up – in stark contrast to the league match on 11 March.
Brendan though has reminded everyone of the video where the Ibrox dressing room erupted when news of the draw filtered through. Confident are you? Be careful what you wish for!
Here’s a flavour of what Brendan has been saying today as he looks to maintain his 100% record at Hampden and compete his 10 in a row – games against Rangers as Celtic manager, without defeat.
“We are at a club here where the history is enormous and what we did last year was historic but we want to keep writing our own history and that means going into these games focused on the next game,” Brendan said.
“We go in to Hampden where the team have played very well and that gives us faith and confidence in our work but not taking away knowing it will be a tough game.”
“Everyone talks about this gap. Celtic’s opponents are not just Rangers, you’ve got Aberdeen that have been second the last number of years, Hibs up and doing really well, Hearts getting stronger, Kilmarnock and Motherwell doing well. Every game is a challenge,” Brendan stated.
“It’s like when we played Bayern. It was very close the home game but they were clearly better than us. For us, it’s not about being concerned if they are closer or not. They’ll be looking at Hibs and Aberdeen in terms of their race. Our focus is very much on ourselves.”
Turning his attention to Sunday’s semi-final the Celtic manager knows that his team has the strength of character for these big games, while maybe questioning whether Sunday’s opponents have that too.
“The last game showed the remarkable resilience of this team and their mentality. When anything happens in the game against us, we have that calmness and ability to come back. The odds were stacked against us but we showed our qualities and rose to the challenge.
“This is the game they were cheering for. For us, we always respect every opponent we play and get ready for the game. One of the values of this club is about humility. We respect every opponent we play. We just prepare for the game.”
The Rangers fans celebrated the draw too. Be careful what you wish for…
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