Rangers caretaker manager Graeme Murty has told their critics to beware of a backlash in Sunday’s Old Firm derby.
Murty senses his squad have grown “sick” of being written off ahead of their latest game against Celtic and has urged them to do something about it.
Frank McAvennie suggested Celtic could have a record eight-goal haul against Rangers in their sights while another former Parkhead striker, Andy Walker, labelled the Ibrox players “timid” and questioned their heart and leadership.
Murty claims the comments in the media have taken care of his team talk.
“It’s easy for me, I just show them everything that’s been written about them,” he said at his pre-match media conference.
“They have been written off and Celtic are fantastic and we’re going to get an absolute doing.
“I don’t actually have to motivate them. I just say to them: ‘This is what the world thinks about you, you can either listen to the noise or you can be really, really close together and go and show them what we’re about’.
“Thankfully, you have all done my job for me.”
Murty believes his players are ready to force the words back down the throats of those who have written them off.
“I think they are getting a little bit sick of it,” he said.
“I spoke earlier about people not knowing full details, not knowing the personalities within the group as well as we do, and making predictions and making assertions about them.
“They should be very careful because hopefully we can use that negativity and flip it round on them and come out of here with a real positive for the football club. That’s what I said to the players.
“The players have taken it for so long, and accepted it, fine. They have got a really good opportunity to do something about it on Sunday.”
Midfielder Jason Holt refused to be drawn on the criticism but he accepted they had to show people they were wrong after conceding eight goals in three defeats to Celtic this season
“We have not beaten them in three games so far, so we have got a point to prove,” he said.
“Every game has been difficult. I think we have improved as the games have gone on against them, but we have a point to prove and we want to change that on Sunday.
“You need to give Celtic plaudits because they have done extremely well to stay unbeaten domestically. But we have a task coming up on Sunday and we need to do it.”
Rangers’ previous trip to Celtic Park resulted in a 5-1 thrashing and Holt, who missed the game through injury, admitted the aftermath had been difficult.
“There’s no doubt, I think we know how disappointing that game was for the players, for the staff, for the fans,” the former Hearts player said.
“It was a hard one to take but it’s up to us. We have not beaten them in three games and we need to change that.”
The two rivals will meet at least six times this season with a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final to come next month and Celtic fans will be eyeing a clean sweep of derby wins, but Holt is not looking at the bigger picture.
“We never really look that far ahead,” he said.
“The game on Sunday is huge because it’s an Old Firm game. The fans expect and we expect. We will not look any further on Sunday.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers claimed after last Sunday’s 4-1 victory over St Mirren that the Championship strugglers were the best team they had played all season, although they drew with Inverness.
But Murty feels his team can channel the rivalry between the teams and fans to their advantage.
“I think we have an opportunity given the history of the teams to use the emotion in a positive way, and actually match the intensity that Celtic are going to come at us with,” he said.
“Because it takes men to stand up in that environment, I imagine, I can’t wait to see it. We have to utilise that emotion in a really, really good way and not let it drown us. We have to stand up to it and say: ‘Great, this is actually going to make us better’.”