How Celtic could rattle rivals' 2022/23 confidence in just 5 days
When it comes to what’s motivating the supporters and the players for Sunday, the prospect of effectively ending the title race is undoubtedly the main one.
However, when Rangers visit Celtic Park in the final Glasgow derby of the season in just 5 days? There’s a chance to really hammer their morale for next season at the same time.
Yes, a new campaign always brings fresh hope and all the rest of it. We certainly felt that way after the appointment of Ange Postecoglou. However, there are differences compared to our own situation and Rangers’ this summer.
We had a total regime overhaul whilst an entire squad of new players had to arrive at the club. We knew come August we would be looking at a new Celtic. Previous derby results didn’t matter at that stage. Rangers, however, still have so many of their current squad contracted to be there for next season. Several of those out of contract will likely be offered new ones too.
Not to mention they’ll be sticking by Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Despite the fact he’s about to be bossed to the league championship by Celtic, his European run has saved him. Rangers fans are desperately trying to push making the Scottish Cup final as some sort of major achievement, but the truth is it’s not even consolation in what’s been an embarrassing domestic campaign from them.
But if they win at Celtic Park, it’ll set up a frustrating narrative heading into the new season. Yes, we would still likely be league champions, but the media will keep pushing the fact we lost the last 2 derby matches to our foes. They’ll go on about the amount of hope this will give them and you’ll still have plenty labelling them favourites for next year. It’ll be made out as if we didn’t even win it this year.
A 3rd Celtic win over Rangers casts major cloud over our rivals
However, imagine how different the picture will look for our rivals if we beat them again. Especially if we manage it in a comfortable manner. All of a sudden, van Bronckhorst will be the man who’s lost 3 of 4 Glasgow derbies. He wouldn’t have won any within 90 minutes either.
Not only will he have lost the league despite coming in with a 6-point advantage, he’ll be known as the manager who simply can’t get the better of Ange. The immediate pressure on their managerial team and their squad heading into next year would be huge. They’ll know that a slow start or another derby loss at the start of next season could be the end.
Beating them once again firmly establishes our superiority. It will put yet more self-doubt into this Rangers team about their ability to overcome this new Celtic side on a regular basis. It wouldn’t matter if they won the Scottish Cup, there will be an overbearing cloud of their inferiority to the Hoops.
You would seriously question whether they would truly have the mentality to overcome that kind of adversity. Having their manager under real pressure heading into next year puts real strain on them. And that could all come from beating Rangers on Sunday alone.
This is why the game is so important not just in the short-term but in the long-term. Losing it gives them unnecessary hope over what could be done next year. Something that would be really careless of Celtic should it happen. Should the opposite occur and we win, however? It changes a lot more than just how the league table looks heading into the final 3 games. It’s a massive morale blow for them ahead of next season.
Hopefully, the players understand its true importance this Sunday. The damage we could inflict on the Ibrox club here could be invaluable.