Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has brilliantly stoked the Glasgow Derby fire ahead of next Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox.
There are concerns over whether the game will go ahead of course. The SFA released a statement last night confirming they were in talks with stakeholders regarding the Scottish Cup fourth round fixtures. This is due to the fact Prince Phillip’s funeral will take place next Saturday. There appears to be a strong chance of a postponement.
But even so, as things stand just now, the game is set to go ahead. Celtic managed to warm up for it nicely with a powerful 6-0 win at home to Livingston. It was a fine performance for our first match post-split, and it was a reminder to all Hoops fans just what this team is capable of when it’s on form.
And Kennedy has outlined his belief that Celtic still have the best squad in the country. That’s despite falling 17 points behind Rangers and letting our league crown slip.
As quoted by the Daily Record, Kennedy said: “I have full belief in the squad we have here, that on our day we are still the best team in the country. One hundred-per-cent. That’s the reaction you have to have. There was always going to come a point where we had a setback.
“I think the last game and the 60 minutes at Ibrox we showed that. From my point of view in terms of our level of performance, how we can play and create, there were a lot of positives.
“Our level of performance against Rangers was good, I thought it sent a message that the gulf is not as big as everybody thinks it is. But ultimately it does come down to results so we want to take that one step further.”
Celtic have dominated Rangers twice in 2021; John Kennedy right to be positive about Glasgow Derby
Whether Gerrard wants to admit it or not, Celtic have dominated the last two derby matches. That’s not a subjective view – it’s simply fact.
Sure, the league looks grim. We’ve made a catalogue of errors in the dugout and at boardroom level this season. They’ve all led to a cataclysmic decline in standards as we’ve slumped to slip-up after slip-up vs lesser teams. But in the derbies, outside of the opening game at Parkhead in October 2020, we’ve been in fine form.
At Ibrox, Celtic were the dominant team for an hour before Nir Bitton was sent off. Callum McGregor, Odsonne Edouard, and Leigh Griffiths all came close. Rangers, meanwhile, didn’t even manage a shot on target [BBC].
Then you had the game at Celtic Park several weeks ago. Once again, Celtic were the dominant side. A match in which the Hoops had 16 shots to Rangers’ nine. Eight shots on target to their three. 10 corners to their five. And 56% possession to their 44%. Yet, somehow, they came away with a 1-1 draw.
Kennedy isn’t wrong. It’s profligacy in the final third that has let us down. Edouard in particular has been far too casual with his finishing in particular. If we can get him to find a more ruthless streak ahead of next weekend, we’ll be in great shape to progress if the game goes ahead.
If Celtic can block out some of the greed that accompanies too many of our players in this fixture, we know we have the capabilities to win on the day.