10 Mar Graeme Murty: Rangers players can handle pressure against Celtic
Rangers manager Graeme Murty is confident his players can handle the pressure of their eagerly-awaited tussle with Celtic.
But he has reminded them to focus on carrying on their good work on the pitch once they have dealt with the atmosphere of Sunday’s Ibrox derby.
Rangers have scored 23 goals during six consecutive wins and their confidence was evident when the players cheered last weekend’s Scottish Cup draw after they were paired with their city rivals.
However, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers pointedly remarked they had lost to Hibernian at Ibrox in their most recent major contest and the visitors will be looking to test their hosts’ nerve.
Murty said: “People come north of the border to this club to play in big games. I’m not sure there is a bigger game for us to play in currently. So this game has added significance.
“But anyone who comes to this football club has to understand the history and passion behind it, and make sure they deal with that first and foremost so they can concentrate on being as good as they have been in the previous weeks.
“I’m confident the players we have brought in in January and the players who were here before understand the scale of the game.
“We know walking into Ibrox, teams are under pressure, ourselves included. Handling that pressure is something we have done historically really well at this football club. But whilst we walk out on to the football pitch ready to accept it, what we can do on the pitch will determine what is going to happen after that.”
Murty has secured two draws at Celtic Park but Sunday will be his first taste of the fixture at Ibrox.
“I’m desperate to experience the atmosphere,” he said. “Obviously I have been to their ground, and I enjoyed the atmosphere, but this is ours, and this will be special.
“To be a manager of Rangers Football Club in an Old Firm game at home will be possibly the biggest moment of my career so far. It’s something I am really looking forward to.
“I will reiterate though, I will really enjoy those things when you do your job properly.”
Victory for Rangers could spark a title race with Celtic six points ahead with one game in hand at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership, but Murty is keen to focus on the 90 minutes alone.
“It’s about this club moving up the league and making sure we are challenging at the top end,” he said. “If we go and take the three points it will be another step making sure we are improving and getting closer to where we want to be.
“As to the championship, you will finish where you deserve to finish. Three points are on offer to us, as they are for Celtic, and if we get them then we put ourselves in a fantastic place to go and finish the season off really strongly.
“But this is a stand-alone game, it’s a big, big game because of the history behind it and the passion behind it.”