Scott Brown has mocked Rangers ahead of the Hogmanay Glasgow derby by expressing ambivalence over the return of top-flight football to Ibrox.
The Celtic captain will tomorrow travel to the Govan ground on club duty for the first time since the liquidation of Rangers in 2012. But he would offer only a “yes and no” when asked if he had missed this fixture during the four years a reconstituted Rangers spent working their way through the senior divisions, before adding the gentle barb: “It’s been enjoyable when they’ve not been here but you always want to go to Ibrox and beat second-placed in the league.”
With a 16-point gap between the clubs, for Brendan Rodgers’ side beating Rangers might well be secondary to the quest to continue the remarkable runs that have allowed them to put together 14 straight Premiership victories and a 23-game unbeaten domestic campaign.
“We want to continue the run for as long as we possibly can,” Brown said. “It’s going to be hard going to Ibrox but we have to just believe in ourselves and try to get the three points. We know we are a good team and if we go there and turn up on the day, we can create chances and score goals. It’s about how we play on the day. Of course [a defeat would be a sour note to go into the winter break on] but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We are a few points clear and we have to go there and enjoy the occasion. It’s fantastic going back to Ibrox but we have a few days to get ourselves ready and focused on Rangers. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there with Celtic. To be fair, I went with Scotland [when Georgia were defeated 1-0 in October 2014] and got applauded for once. I might get applauded again…”
Ibrox was the scene of a turning point in Brown’s Celtic career, with the 31-year-old agreeing that his equalising goal in the clubs’ 2-2 Scottish Cup draw in January 2011 changed his relationship with the supporters. The angled-arms celebration which he provocatively did directly in front of Rangers striker El Hadji Diouf ensured cult status both for the midfielder and his pose among a Celtic faithful who previously hadn’t always warmed to him.
“Yeah, I’d say so,” said Brown, when asked if the goal was a pivotal moment in his nine years at the club. “It was up with the best goals I have scored for Celtic, especially since we were down to ten men. Rangers were a good strong, physical team back then and for us to come back in the second half and score was big for us.
“It fell on to my left foot and luckily enough, I found the back of the net. It was a great occasion as we had to dig deep with ten men and believe in ourselves. We created chances, scored a goal and enjoyed the day.”