MORGARO Gomis believes there is far more pressure on Rangers than on his own team to win tonight’s Championship crunch match at Ibrox. But the midfielder insisted yesterday that, whatever the result, the race for the title would still have some way to go.
A draw would be an acceptable result for Hearts, who go into the game with a 13-point advantage over Rangers. But, according to Gomis, the leaders will play to win. “I expect a hard game, just like the other two against them this season,” the Frenchman said, referring to matches which Hearts won.
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“Because of where they are in the league, they’re going to try everything to win the game. But we will go there and try to win the game, like we have done against everyone we have faced this season. We can’t go there and just sit back: we need to go there and try to win the game. The manager has said we’re going to play attacking football, so that’s what we will do.
“Obviously if we win we are going to keep pushing in the right direction. But whatever happens there is still a long way to go.
“We don’t feel pressure at all. We are happy where we are. We know where we’re going and we know where we’re going to be at the end of the season, so fingers crossed we can carry on like this until the end of the season.
“We’re happy. There’s a positive vibe all around the place. So I think everything is great just now.”
Earlier this week, Fraser Aird became the latest Rangers player to cast doubt on Hearts’ title-winning credentials, claiming his club had a better squad and superior individual players. Gomis refused to be drawn into a debate on the subject, saying he and his team-mates preferred to concentrate on their own standards.
“I haven’t seen what he said, but if he thinks that, so be it. To be fair, we don’t pay any attention to what they might say about us. We just want to focus on each game and take it from there.
“If they speak about us, so be it. But we’re not focusing on them, we’re focusing on us.
“It’s a compliment in a way – maybe they’re trying to play mind games. But all that matters to us is just to play every game and take it from there.”
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson echoed Gomis when asked about Aird’s claims, saying there was no point in arguing about who was the better team when there was one way to settle the matter: by looking at the league table at the end of the season. “People are entitled to their opinion – they can say what they want,” he said.
“We could quite easily come out and say something back, but we don’t need to. You’re better concentrating on your own team, your own performance as a player or a coach. Go and do it on the pitch: that’s where it counts.
“We don’t need to look at other teams or listen to what they’re saying. All season, we’ve focused on ourselves and let other people do the talking. We’ve done all our talking on the pitch so far, and we’ll do it again at Ibrox.
“We’re the most consistent team in the league. That’s important. On their day, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs can beat each other, but the crucial thing has been the consistency for us.
“We’ve consistently won games away from home at difficult venues, overcome teams at home as well. Any team can beat one of their rivals on the day. The biggest thing is how you follow that up, going to Dumbarton and Cowdenbeath to pick up points.
“At the end of the season, the league will tell you who is the best team. End of story.
“There’s still a long way to go in that. Medals aren’t handed out in January: they’re kept until May. If we’re at the top in May, we’ll be recognised as the best team in the league.”
Striker Osman Sow is back training and will feature in Neilson’s squad, probably on the bench, while new signing Género Zeefuik is likely to start up front.
Those two are more than capable of looking after themselves in what Neilson thinks will be a robust encounter.
“I expect it to be a tough game. It’s two teams of probably SPL standard coming together – two teams both desperate to win. It will be a physical game, a high-tempo game, and it will probably be quite tight as well.
“I want to win it. We want to go there and win, as we do every game. We’ll set out to win the game. But we’ll have a strategy flexible enough that, if we need to change it, we can.”
Like Gomis, Neilson insisted that an away win would not be a conclusive blow in the fight for automatic promotion. “If we do win it, we get another three points. It’s another step towards the title.
“But it would by no means be’ over. There will still be 15 games left, that’s 45 points. So yes, it would be great to win it, it would put us in a great position, but win or lose, we’ve still got a good cushion, a lead – and we’re in good form.”
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