1. The world will be watching
It’s been two years since the two Glasgow giants have met & the world needs its Old Firm fix. Football fans love a derby & there are few that can match the passion of Rangers v. Celtic. The attention & publicity will be suffocating for those in Scotland but for everyone else the media attention will be long overdue & devoured over the next three months.
2. Lee McCulloch has to be in the starting eleven
There are already grumblings online about Jig being overmatched & not being up to the pace of an Old Firm match. But, the Rangers captain belongs in this match. Yes, he has been paid well for staying but he has been the only real carry over on the pitch from Rangers past to today. Kris Boyd & Kenny Miller didn’t have to suffer through two years of playing in the outlands of Scottish football. They know little of the days of Francisco Sandaza, Emilson Cribari, Kevin Kyle, & Anestis Argriou. Lee Wallace only had one season under his belt with Rangers before plying his trade in Division Three.
McCulloch has persevered & taken on whatever task the manager has asked of him. Whether he starts in defence or midfield, Lee McCulloch needs to lead this team onto the pitch at Hamden. In a way it will serve as validation for his dedication – plus he will need to bottle the emotions of his teammates & be the quintessential leader of a team that may be overwhelmed by the occasion.
3. Bilel Mohsni cannot be seen anywhere near this match
If the Tunisian gets rattled against the likes of Airdrie, Falkirk & Alloa Athletic then he may just spontaneously combust in an Old Firm match. If players at a Championship level know how to provoke Mohsni, it just wouldn’t be fair to throw him into the lion’s den that would await him against Celtic. Barring injuries there should be no reason to see this calamity happen. Marius Zaliukas, Darren McGregor & Lee McCulloch are all capable & experienced enough to be selected before Mohsni. Given the recent rumours of his departure & the apparent realization by Ally McCoist that he signed McGregor for a reason should soften any fears of Mohsni appearing in this match – but a lot can happen in the three month interval. Be afraid, be very afraid.
4. Free pass
Any criticism of signing the 30 something duo of Kenny Miller & Kris Boyd will be null & void for the immediate future. Many questioned the signing of Miller, in particular, & his lingering injuries this season have fueled some of the naysayers – but you could argue that without them Rangers would have no hope at all in this match. Honestly, there is only a smigent of realistic hope among Rangers supporters as it is. The clubs has not faced a challenge this big since it was booted to Division Three. Victories over Motherwell, Caley Thistle, & St Johnstone have been satisfying but none of those clubs are on the level of the challenge that Celtic will pose, especially in the context of a cup competition. Can Rangers get a result? Without a doubt – it’s a long shot but they could scrap out a result if the stars align. There is enough experience in this squad & players like Boyd, Miller, Wallace & Lewis MacLeod can be game-changers that flip the momentum in Rangers direction at a moment’s notice. It’s a long shot – but Rangers are better prepared for this showdown than they have been in the previous two seasons.
5. January just got really interesting
Mike Ashley will look to win over Rangers supporters regardless of the presumption that the billionaire doesn’t care. He lost the support of Newcastle’s fans early on & you would think that he will look for a chance to start over while controlling Rangers. Plus, he should realize that he needs to get butts in the seats of Ibrox again.
How do you tantalize a base of football supporters? We all know it’s true…a signing or two brings a buzz & excitement. It’s new & fresh….visions of greatness accompany what is NEW! No, we won’t see a Basile Boli buzz created (& what a buzz it was)…but you should expect new players coming to Ibrox this January- even if only on a loan basis. Stewart Fisher of The Herald is reporting that Ally McCoist already has his eyes on Newcastle youngsters – Roland Aarons & Adam Armstrong. Hopefully, Ashley will smuggle in some files from Newcastle’s scouting department to plant some more seeds in the head of McCoist & his staff.
One thing is for sure – we needed this. An Old Firm match can reunite the masses & create a sense of purpose & urgency for Rangers that can carry the club for months.