“The players don’t live on Mars. They watch Celtic,” Kilmarnock boss, Derek McInnes

Derek McInnes yesterday praised Celtic and pointed out that his players are well aware of the quality in Ange Postecoglou’s side as ‘they don’t live on Mars’. The Kilmarnock boss reckons that this is the hardest three points to try to win in the league but has asked his players to compete and ensure that the Celtic stars don’t get the opportunity to stroll around Rugby Park tomorrow enjoying their football.

Kilmarnock’s home form in their first season back in the top flight is a major reason that they have a decent chance of retaining their Scottish Premiership status and anything at all against the Champions would be seen as an major boost to their chances of completing a successful season where survival has always been the priority for the former Aberdeen manager.

McInnes points to the two matches against Celtic earlier this year, at Celtic Park and Hampden in the League Cup semi-final and reckoned that his side were able to make a game of it on both occasions, especially at the National Stadium, but ultimately both games resulted in defeats to this relentless Celtic side, who have lost just once all season against St Mirren last September.

“The last two in Glasgow at Celtic Park and at Hampden we did a lot right in the game,” the Kilmarnock manager said via the Ayrshire club’s official website. “We went with different systems and at Hampden, I thought it was probably our best performance against Celtic. We were in the game right up until the dying embers but Celtic have been relentless this season.

“The game they lost there were a few key players not starting but their focus has always been there and being out of Europe has given them a real domestic focus. That consistency has been good for them but what we need to see is an improvement from us. We got that at Hampden.

“A lot of my players had never played there before and we dealt with that one with maturity but you almost have to be pitch-perfect to get a result against Celtic. We want to show that it can happen and we want to show we are fighting, we are scrapping and we are good enough to get a positive result. We want to go into the post-split fixtures in a good mindset,” McInnes said.

“I want to see my team out there with intelligence, belief, organisation, and having that personality to think they can get a result. They are one of the few teams that we haven’t managed to get points from here. But my job is to instill belief and tactically we need to be spot-on.

“Physically you must be too but mentally you also have to be ready. Mentally it is important that the players go onto the pitch in a good state of mind and part of my job is to make sure of that.

“That can be showing them past performances and reminding them of what they have done well in previous games and reminding them of our home stats. Once the ball rolls it is all about decision-making.

“The players don’t live on Mars. They watch Celtic and they have played against them. They know they are good players and all I would ask is they don’t let Celtic enjoy the game and let them stroll about. This is the hardest three points to get in the league but there has to be a belief from us that we can get a positive result. I believe we can stop them,” Derek McInnes said.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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