04 Mar Graeme Murty says Rangers roared when Old Firm cup derby was drawn
Graeme Murty revealed his Rangers players cheered when they discovered they had landed Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals.
The rivals were paired together in the last four of a major tournament for the fifth time in four seasons after Jason Cummings notched his first senior hat-trick in a 4-1 triumph for Rangers over Falkirk.
Murty believes it is another sign of Rangers’ progress that the Ibrox squad responded with jubilation – despite having failed to register a single derby win since Brendan Rodgers took over at Celtic Park in the summer of 2016.
The Gers boss, who hopes his side can close to within three points of the champions when they clash in Ladbrokes Premiership action next weekend, said: “The sound that came out of the changing room when we were drawn against Celtic was vast.
“The boys loved it. And that shows the mood they’re in, the positivity that’s going through the changing room and the upturn in our mindset that we’re relishing the challenge of pushing on and being better than we were.
“That’s a good sign for me and we need to make sure the games we have coming up between now and the end of the season remain meaningful. We don’t want to taper off and die, we want to accelerate to the end of the season, have a really good run.”
Murty has recorded two Parkhead draws in two Old Firm derbies as manager.
And, having watched his side hit 23 goals over their last six games, he believes there is scope for them to go on the attack both next week and at Hampden.
“The mindset going into the games at Parkhead were that we had to contain them at times but not be afraid to play our football at times, I think it’s going to be the same for us here, albeit we might be a bit more aggressive in our selection or the way we’re going to play,” he said.
“I think you have to be respectful towards their difference-makers and their skill players but you have to try and contain those guys and then not be afraid to unleash the guys that pose a threat for us.”
Motherwell’s reward for a 2-1 win over Hearts is a Hampden meeting with the winners of the replay between Kilmarnock and Aberdeen at Rugby Park.
The cup semi-finals will be played on the weekend of April 14-15.
Assistant manager Keith Lasley was diplomatic when asked whether Motherwell had got the draw they wanted.
Lasley, whose side have beaten six Premiership opponents in the cups this season, told BBC Radio Scotland: “The way Rangers are playing at the moment and obviously the consistency Celtic have shown, then possibly, but you have still got to go and win the game.
“Kilmarnock came to our place a couple of weeks ago and beat us and we have had tough games against Aberdeen.
“On paper it possibly looks like an easier tie than any of the Old Firm but you have still got to go there on the day and give your best. But if we do that we feel capable of getting to the final, no doubt.”