As Celtic Clash Looms Larger, Darkness Starts To Descend On Our Rivals.

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Arrogance and ego can be a terrible thing in professional sports. Really, they are a terrible thing anywhere. Sun Tzu recommends irritating an easily roused enemy and feigning weakness to make him over-confident. It takes a supremely stupid opponent to be beaten time and again by a stronger one who still doesn’t realise he’s second best.

Eventually I’ll do that long delayed piece on the cultural differences of the clubs. But for now, it’s enough to say that their overwhelming belief in their own supremacy, as emphasised over and over in their “club slogan” We Are The Peepul, is part of why most of us expect a win at the weekend. They genuinely believe that pulling on the blue jersey makes them special, makes them important, makes them better than others.

We know that all that stuff has to be earned. Like I said, that’s cultural. So let’s not delve too deep into that. Let’s just, for a moment, think on what it means.

Ibrox’s supremacist culture is such that they refuse, utterly, to accept even the merest suggestion that we are just a better team. So that’s why so many of them come out in the papers and tell us about how we’ll see the “real” them next time around.

Yet in that dressing room are players who have to know that they are over-matched, just as there are soldiers in any army whose over-riding emotional state is the fear of the enemy. Some can translate that fear into deeds of great valour and heroism. Others are crushed by it, and nothing is worse for soldiers than having, amongst their ranks, people who are afraid of engagement. It saps morale. It wrecks the unity needed for victory.

Sun Tzu said, “The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought,” which simply means that battles, and really any contest, are won before a single player or soldier ever takes the field. They are won by their leaders, in the preparation, in the tactics, in the art of setting out a plan and making sure others stick to it.

The Mooch is fighting for his job. That does not translate well into cold, rational analysis. His second in command is focussed on avenging some perceived slight, which is great. As I said a moment ago, one of the great general’s strategies involves provoking the ire of an easily wound up foe … on the pitch Scott Brown was a pro at it, and particularly against Morelos.

The pressure on their whole club is immense, but on the manager in particular. Some of their players know they’ll be leaving in the summer. They won’t run through walls for the cause because they have one foot out the door already. Others know they don’t have a future under the new manager, as he’s made abundantly clear with his talk of the rebuild. That’s not a great motivator for people either. But more than anything else is the drumbeat of expectation from the stands and from ex-Ibrox players in the media; we cannot lose this game.

With hatred of Celtic at its core, this is the real problem for The Mooch and his side. As I’ve said before, Celtic’s players and their manager play for the glory of us. They put everything into stopping us. I talked about Stephen King’s The Long Walk and the character of Stebbins; his strength came from understanding that motivation is everything.

Working under those dark and threatening clouds, Ibrox’s players need more than just the thought of beating Celtic and stopping Celtic. They need more than just being told that their manager’s future might depend on it. What if that’s not a motivating factor for some of them? What if some of them just don’t care about that at all?

For everything we’re doing right, you can see two things that they are doing wrong. Not just in their approach but in their attitude. Everything their players say or their allies say stokes expectation levels and ratchets up the pressure on them.

In the meantime, we prepare. And prepare. And prepare.

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  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    Can’t remember who first said it, but the biggest difference between us and them is that we sing of what we love, and they sing of what they hate.

  • Johnny Green says:

    As Sunday fast approaches they are full of dread, while we are gliding gracefully to an expected victory, an expectation built on hard facts and a resoluteness in team spirit that they just do not possess. The hard facts are that we have better players in every position, we have a much better manager, we have a winning mentality that they cannot cope with and we have a support like no other. There is no doubt in my mind that we will once again win this encounter and then proceed to another well deserved and glorious Treble.

    Bring it on!

  • scouse bhoy says:

    they will be determined we have to concentrate and not be too confident no silly mistakes or giving the ball away and please no stupid fouls.

  • Davie says:

    Anything can happen in a one off match, celtic have not been flowing in last 4 matches.
    So The Rangers could win.
    They could also pay the leccy bill.
    They could pay the gas bill.
    The could pay back the loans.
    They could pay the rates.
    They could pay the wages.
    They could pay the tax.
    They could pay original Rangers debts and bring that club out of liquidation.
    Lots They could do.
    Likely they won’t do much of the above.
    However be prepared for them playing out their skins as this is the only chance to sell themselves and move on from the Lavvygarglers.

  • Eire goCeltic says:

    Can they explain what “WE are the People” means. Did they lift it from America.
    Are they letting the Catholic supporters of Celtic know they are Protestants from
    Ulster or Lowland Scot Catholic haters. Most of them would not have a clue. They have been totally indoctrinated by metaphorical Soma and haven’t got an original thought in their heads.
    I doubt any of the Gers players buy into this sectarian nonsense.
    I don’t hate Protestants. Most of the rivalry is theatre, that gets “Out of Hand”.
    Like the Jerry Springer Show. There are many Shows like that one in Glasgow.
    On the other side, how many Celtic Fans are real Catholics?
    I want Celtic to win because of Celtic’s superior management.
    Celtic players could be carrying niggling injuries, so don’t write-off Rangers.

    • Kevan McKeown says:

      @ EGC. Ye write the other lot aff in one of these games at yer peril. It’s one game ah’ve never predicted and never will, nae matter who’s players are ‘on-form’ or whatever. Far as sectarianism goes, there are plenty of decent, respectable people on both sides, although ah’ve absolutely nae doubt, through decades of experience and observation, the other side are by far the worst and have far more than their fair share of the intolerant, ugly minded. It’s no even a ‘spiritual’ bigotry for most of them either, it’s a ‘social’ one, only matched by their pig-ignorance. Most couldnae even tell ye, the real fundemental differences between a catholic and a protestant if their life depended on it.

  • Kevin Dunne says:

    With missing several chances against this mob think it,s time to bury the chances and their only dream of a trophy , the hoops to win 4.1?

  • Kevin Dunne says:

    Expect a 5 ????? performance from the HOOPS .HAIL HAIL

  • John S says:

    Oddly enough, Protestantism is predicated on anti-Catholicism.

  • Johnno says:

    I’m viewing the semi as a clash between a side with the excitement of winning glory against a scummy mob with a massive fear of losing.
    Hence 2 totally different mentalities going into the game.
    We have by far the better all round player’s with the added bonus of extra quality in depth from the bench also.
    If games was won on paper it would be easy to say that this game is actually a non contest as such.
    But games aren’t won on paper which the snidey prick trys to use the Scottish media in trying to win.
    Ange has a way better approach for which his celtic team have bought into and fully intent on delivering them demands and enjoying so much on delivering them to our supporters.
    Can that snidey prick be able to find the same when seen nothing on show yet to say he has?
    Has this scum team the stones and the belief and a unity behind such a mouth to be able to deliver?
    Mentality plays a huge part within today’s game and effects the discipline needed to deliver.
    The scum just haven’t got it where we have so much in abundance.
    The only way celtic don’t win handsomely is if we allow ourselves to beat ourselves, and with a manager like Ange, a captain in calmac, the experience of a Hart and Mooy and a desire to deliver throughout this celtic team the chances of that happening remain very slim still.
    Another beautiful Sunday awaits for the Celtic

  • SSMPM says:

    I was always taught that every other religion and non religious people are protestants. Many say they’re Catholics and don’t follow it’s beliefs or attend churches. So what? I for one couldn’t care less as long as you have decency and are respectful to others that’s fine by me. Shouldn’t forget that many don’t have any interest in either religion or football but if you do support the Celtic then we have an affinity and that’s just grand.

  • Lord Limburger says:

    I’d love to see the statistics on their squad versus us, just a simple list of each of their names, how many times they’ve individually played against us, and the win-lose-raw numbers.

  • Hoopalero says:

    If we play the way we can play, we shouldn’t have any problems, but please don’t fuck about at the back COYBIG HH

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