London Hearts Supporters Club

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Joe Jordan <-auth Ian Paul auth-> Hugh Williamson
1 of 002 Ian Baird 17 L Premier H

Motivation is no problem as Celtic tackle Old Firm clash

ian Paul

7 Nov 1992

NOTHING will concentrate Celtic minds more than the comparison of their European fate this week with that of Rangers.

For that reason they may well be formidable opponents for the Ibrox lot at Parkhead this afternoon and, indeed, their manager Liam Brady will be very surprised if that fails to be the case.

"A defeat would be very hard to take," he said yesterday, "because we know Rangers won't make too many mistakes in the months to come."

He also pointed out that a draw would be acceptable to Rangers but not to Celtic, and that his men would have to pursue a win to narrow the gap in the chase for the premier division title.

"The game is vitally important for two reasons.

First, for our fans who deserve to see us win, and second, most important for me, the league situation.

We must bring Rangers back to the pack and give ourselves every chance."

Brady, understandably, did not want to dwell on the 2-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund which ended Celtic's interest in the UEFA Cup, but he reiterated his view that for an hour his team had done well.

"We must not let disappointment distract us from reality." As if to supplement that declaration, he said: "It is not necessarily the case that we will make changes in the team."

Even so, the availability of "foreigners" Andy Payton and Dariusz Wdowczyk, who were ruled out of the Dortmund match, looks likely to be utilised.

The manager refused to discuss the personnel options, however, reasoning correctly that his opposite number, Walter Smith, would not be too forthcoming with his formation, either.

"I have told the players that this is a great chance to bounce back.

Motivation looks after itself.

They have every incentive to do the business," he said.

"I think we have proved we can beat them.

We are the only team to have got anything at Ibrox this season -- we drew there -- and we feel confident that we will win."

Brady has yet to see his team beat the old enemy at Parkhead but his record at Ibrox has been good enough.

A victory and two draws at the Rangers ground have been matched by two defeats at Celtic Park, which is one more reason he would like to see the week end with a win.

That peculiar sharing of the Old Firm spoils -- there was also a Rangers win at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi-final -- on away soil has fascinated Smith, too.

"I would like to see our record at Parkhead continuing and the Ibrox one changing," he said.

"It is better for us to be taking on a game like this after the Leeds match.

But it is equally important because of the league position, with us four points ahead and a game in hand.

Obviously a win tomorrow would be more than significant because it would increase the gap between us and the team I would consider our closest rivals."

The Rangers manager did not want to tread the well-worn path of important games succeeding each other in this demanding season, but did say that his players simply have to accept that.

"Who can you leave out because they might be tired? I know that is a manager's job but they know the importance of the match and they have to show within their own environment that they are capable of handling it.

So far they have done so."

None the less, the excessive drain, both mentally and physically, of that immense all-Britain contest must surely have its effects on Rangers, who will be without Trevor Steven.

Hearts, too, may be at a little disadvantage for their home derby with Hibernian.

They had a tough 90 minutes in their UEFA Cup return with Standard Liege, which they lost, but they have a remarkable record against their old capital rivals.

Not since January 1989 have they lost to Hibs and even if they have three doubtful players, Derek Ferguson, Ally Mauchlen, and Peter Van de Ven, their manager looks for the same kind of angry response to defeat as they showed when they beat Motherwell after having lost the first leg to Liege.

But this may be Hibs' best opportunity for a long time to put an end to that barren spell.

They will be without Dave Beaumont but Darren Jackson, who missed last week's game against his old team, Dundee United, has a good chance of playing.

Aberdeen, who have lost only twice in the premier division at Dens Park, will have Roy Aitken fit for the game against Dundee there today.

But manager Willie Miller is more interested in recalling that Dundee beat Rangers on the same ground earlier this season.

Motherwell desperately need to beat Partick Thistle at Fir Park to get themselves back on the winning road again, while Falkirk could make the most of home advantage against Airdrie at Brockville.

Taken from the Herald

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