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Keith Jackson: Celtic v Rangers used to have it all...


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...now there's just hatred and bitterness.

 

KEITH looks forward to this weekend's game and tries to see through the nastiness and petty squabbles that surround it.

 

IN the endless search for rational thinking on the subject of Scottish football – and on Celtic and Rangers in particular – social media is seldom an ideal starting point.

 

A digital breeding ground for 
card-carrying bampots and 
extremists of all denominations, it never ceases to amaze just how much rancid hostility and barking insanity can be squeezed into 140 characters or less.

 

Often it is a place where the very dullest of wits go to be unburdened and emptied out on to a screen.

 

More often than not, as will without doubt be the case this week and beyond, it quickly degenerates into online loutishness and a feeding frenzy for the terminally unhinged. Already, the build-up is dominated by anger and insults.

 

This, of course, is not to say every Old Firm fan who lurks around on the internet must slaver and breathe through the mouth. Absolutely not. On the contrary, some of them are fiendishly clever.

 

Every now and then one will pop up quite unexpectedly on Twitter and manage to succinctly nail it.

 

Like the Rangers fan who, when discussing what lies ahead at Hampden this weekend, offered up the following: “There’s no rivalry any more. Just hatred. It’s sad.”

 

That’s the truth, right there. As much as these two clubs and their followers might posture and growl at one another – no matter how many full-page newspaper ads they might take out in the coming days – the reality is their two teams are about to engage in a phoney war.

 

What was once a formidable sporting rivalry is now a fading memory. This fixture is the headline act in Scottish football’s odditorium. Yes, it may well be watched in big numbers but only because it holds all the fascination of a modern-day freak show.

 

As a newspaper man of more than 25 years, there was nothing quite like the adrenalin rush of a Glasgow derby. The ferocity of the occasion made it completely compelling.

 

Then, on top of all that, came the Larssons and Laudrups, de Boers and Di Canios – men whose skills would light up and shine like a thing of beauty making it easier to ignore the surrounding ugliness.

 

Now that’s all there is left.

 

The Great Ibrox Implosion of 2012 and events since have ravaged Rangers and reduced them to a state of irrelevance. There is no contest between these two clubs. None at all.

 

It is hard to imagine Ronny Deila’s Celtic not winning this League Cup semi-final and winning comfortably. His team is stronger and more talented than Rangers in pretty much every department. It ought to be really quite straightforward.

 

But even if it is not – even if somehow Rangers were to spring up and catch Celtic cold with the kind of sucker punches that floored Chelsea and Manchester City over the weekend – in a wider context nothing much will really change.

 

Deila might find his relationship with Celtic fans so badly damaged that no amount of post-match
 fist-pumping from Pittodrie to Rugby Park can fix it. But, even so, he will deliver the club’s fourth successive league title.

 

The summer would then be used to debate whether Deila deserves another shot at qualifying for the Champions League. Even if the general consensus is “no” then Celtic will go on about their business just the same, only with a new man in charge. That’s the worst case scenario at Parkhead. The Champions League remains Celtic’s be all and end all.

 

Over at Ibrox, meanwhile, a once great footballing rival continues to eat its own feet off.

 

The worst that can happen to Rangers fans is that their team might be humiliated. Maybe annihilated. But again nothing really changes. Nor for that matter would a victory, as far fetched as it might seem.

 

Chances are they would be wiped out in the Final by either a resurgent Aberdeen or an equally thriving Dundee United. And even if by some miracle this rudderless, managerless team, which cannot stay out of harm’s way in the Championship, went on to actually lift the League Cup then so what?

 

They’ll be looking inwards because before they can aspire to competing against their neighbours, first they must fix their own house.

 

Where Rangers are concerned, there will be another meeting at Hampden this week which is of far greater significance to the club’s future. And it will take place tomorrow, not out on the pitch but on the sixth floor.

 

Mike Ashley will not attend but his lawyers will be there, or at least they’ll be on the other end of a conference call, as the SFA’s judicial panel gets down to the business of dealing with the Sports Direct tycoon’s interest in all matters Ibrox.

 

His legal representatives will ask for more time – possibly months – to fully consider the charges which centre around their man’s influence in the boardroom. The SFA’s lawyers will argue that no such lengthy delay is necessary to prepare Ashley’s case.

 

It is likely that the whole process will be stalled for two to four weeks.

 

Meanwhile, Ashley is expected to further tighten his stranglehold with another wad of emergency cash, as much as £10million – a great deal more than Rangers require in order to survive until new shares are released.

 

This entire deal appears to be designed to suit Ashley more than to satisfy the needs of a club that may find itself saddled with a huge debt mountain to one man.

 

These are the issues Rangers must tackle before they are even remotely ready to go toe to toe with their city rivals. And even though clarity may be provided when the shareholders vote at an egm a few weeks from now, potentially smashing the current regime and rebuilding the boardroom, there are no quick fixes.

 

For the time being then, this rivalry has had its day. But the hatred rages on. If only it were confined to the land of the hashtag.

 

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/opinion/sport/keith-jackson-celtic-v-rangers-5043134

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Going by predictions, it will a battle in the stands, and a massacre on the field of play. That said, are we that much worse than Ross County (twice), or dare one say it, Morton? It essentially all depends on how much our people are actually switched on. They obviously all can play football, but whether they are able to call upon that AND in front of a screaming horde of supporters and TV cameras and a world-wide audience? Maybe they surprise us all, but I would not bet much on it nonetheless.

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Where Rangers are concerned, there will be another meeting at Hampden this week which is of far greater significance to the club’s future. And it will take place tomorrow, not out on the pitch but on the sixth floor.

 

Mike Ashley will not attend but his lawyers will be there, or at least they’ll be on the other end of a conference call, as the SFA’s judicial panel gets down to the business of dealing with the Sports Direct tycoon’s interest in all matters Ibrox.

 

His legal representatives will ask for more time – possibly months – to fully consider the charges which centre around their man’s influence in the boardroom. The SFA’s lawyers will argue that no such lengthy delay is necessary to prepare Ashley’s case.

 

It is likely that the whole process will be stalled for two to four weeks.

 

Meanwhile, Ashley is expected to further tighten his stranglehold with another wad of emergency cash, as much as £10million – a great deal more than Rangers require in order to survive until new shares are released.

 

This entire deal appears to be designed to suit Ashley more than to satisfy the needs of a club that may find itself saddled with a huge debt mountain to one man.

 

These are the issues Rangers must tackle before they are even remotely ready to go toe to toe with their city rivals. And even though clarity may be provided when the shareholders vote at an egm a few weeks from now, potentially smashing the current regime and rebuilding the boardroom, there are no quick fixes.

 

This part is what really worries me. To be honest I don't give a shit what the score is next week but if Ashley gets to chew more of us up it will be worse than any defeat within reason the tims can inflict on us.

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We have a lot of players who haven't experienced the Old Firm cauldron - but neither have they. I also think that it will be a massive game for Deila. He will be expected to organise a team to go out and thrash us. But I imagine that management experience is also sorely tested in these contests. It will be interesting to see how he copes given everything that may come from this game. I still think he is very much in a 'honeymoon mode' with the Celtic job with no real pressure on the domestic front.

 

I predict a Celtic win - but it will be interesting to see just how that team can handle the hype of the game, as well as the demands from their support.

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Going by predictions, it will a battle in the stands, and a massacre on the field of play. That said, are we that much worse than Ross County (twice), or dare one say it, Morton? It essentially all depends on how much our people are actually switched on. They obviously all can play football, but whether they are able to call upon that AND in front of a screaming horde of supporters and TV cameras and a world-wide audience? Maybe they surprise us all, but I would not bet much on it nonetheless.

 

You honestly believe that ? I would say that Celtic, when playing Ross County or Morton, would have been completely switched off, giving an upset a better chance of happening..... but when they play us ? Not a chance.

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