David Martindale insists there is no fear factor at Livingston ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Celtic Park.
Ange Postecoglou’s in-form Hoops are nine points clear of Old Firm rivals Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership and on their way to retaining the title, with a domestic treble still a realistic prospect.
Livingston themselves are unbeaten in six matches and sit fourth which helps with Martindale’s belief, although he could not have any more respect for the champions, who have won both meetings this season.
Martindale said: “I’m not scared, not at all, and I don’t think any of the players in the changing room are.
“I don’t think it is fear factor.
“For me it is respect rather than fear. You give them the respect that they are due, especially at this moment in time.
“There have been some huge teams gone to Parkhead and struggled.
“Look at the Real Madrid game, I thought Celtic were incredible for 60 minutes and an inch away from taking the lead with Callum McGregor’s shot (hit a post before slipping to a 3-0 defeat).
“It is more respect than fear and that’s how I see it.”
Martindale is open and honest about how he will set about trying to stop a relentless Celtic side who have won all 11 home league games, with only one Premiership loss this season.
He said: “I’m not going to sit here and tell lies. When I go to Parkhead it is about containing them and then you manage the game within the game.
“I don’t go to Parkhead and say ‘I am going to be really offensive, open, play five offensive players and will go toe-to-toe’, that would be career suicide.
“Their budget is 40/50 times our budget, so you can’t go toe-to-toe. So I have to come up with a plan.
“Look at Atletico Madrid, look at some of the best teams in the world, look at the World Cup.
“There was a lot of teams set up in similar fashion. I think Atletico set up like that every game.
“The boys aren’t stupid, they understand football. They have done it themselves here at home. In games we have won, we have set up very similar, we just carried more of a threat because you are the home team.
“Football is made up of a lot of different variables and there’s different ways to win games of football.
“I’ve got to come up with a way to win that game of football and the boys enjoy rolling their sleeves up and trying to take points off Celtic at Parkhead and Rangers at Ibrox.
“They are huge games in Scottish football and the boys love playing in them. I don’t need to give them belief because they believe themselves. Historically we have done it.
“Last year we took three points off Celtic at home and a point at Parkhead. Ange was the manager then.
“It has been very difficult since then to pick points up, but the belief is there because history is there, so why can’t we do it again?”