Ahead of this weekend’s Glasgow Derby, it would appear that Celtic interim boss John Kennedy has our rivals on strings.
Indeed, the Rangers supporters just can’t hide their rage with Kennedy showing a bit of confidence. How dare he show such strong belief in his own team. Doesn’t he realise that we’ve no chance on Saturday? That we’re as well just turning up and bowing down to Steven Gerrard’s Govan Globetrotters? Might as well hand them the Scottish Cup whilst we’re at it.
Sure, you can see why they may be confident. They’ve won the league far too comfortably for our liking. They’ve had a decent run in Europe too. Not to mention they’ve gone unbeaten in the three meetings between ourselves and Rangers this season. Yes, they’ve had quite the time of it this year.
But Kennedy has to look at the finer details. And for those who actually do, they will be able to see why the interim manager is so full of beans. He said that when we’re on our game, we remain the best team in Scotland [Daily Record].
That went down as well as you would expect with rival fans. But Celtic have dominated the last two of these matches. The only one we didn’t boss came back in October when we had a host of key stars out. The likes of Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie, and James Forrest were all missing in that one.
At Ibrox back in January 2nd, meanwhile, Celtic controlled the game and only saw greed cost them in the end. Odsonne Edouard and Callum McGregor had glorious opportunities to feed their teammates that weren’t taken. Not to mention Leigh Griffiths rattling the post also. Rangers didn’t even muster a shot on target yet somehow won 1-0 after Bobby Madden couldn’t get the red card out quickly enough to send off Nir Bitton in a game-changing decision.
Glasgow Derby confidence understandable; Celtic have hardly struggled to boss Rangers in 2021
As for the latest derby, a 1-1 draw at Parkhead, Rangers were again second-best. As well as the goal we scored, Edouard, David Turnbull, and McGregor all came close again. we bossed it with 56% of the possession and managed 16 shots on the day [BBC]. Had it not been for poor decision-making in the final third in both matches, we would’ve secured comfortable victories in both.
Sure, we didn’t. Our rivals are quite right to point to that fact. But Celtic have shown that when on their game they remain the most dominant footballing team in Scotland. Rangers, for all of their dominance against lesser sides this season, have been let off the hook twice against Celtic.
And to add to Kennedy’s confidence, he has Forrest back. That allows him to finally play with some natural width and get at Rangers’ main area of weakness – the full-back positions.
Diego Laxalt has gotten plenty of joy against the Ibrox side in our last two games. That’s because their full-backs – Borna Barisic especially – have been extremely vulnerable.
Given Celtic’s performances in the last two derbies, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Kennedy’s confidence. He’ll feel he had the measure of Steven Gerrard in the March fixture. He’ll also feel Neil Lennon had him sussed at Ibrox too.
Rangers fully deserved to win the league given how poor we’ve been compared to them. But when we’re on our game and firing? We have every right to feel, as former nine-in-a-row champions, that we still have the better side.