Ally McCoist has called for cool heads at Celtic Park on Saturday to avert what he regards as a potentially explosive return of the Old Firm league fixture.
The former Rangers manager, who claims “only the dafties” would suggest Celtic have not missed the Ibrox club during their four-year absence from the top flight, believes the conduct of both teams will be under especially intense scrutiny this weekend.
McCoist was infamously involved in a touchline confrontation five years ago with then Celtic boss Neil Lennon at the conclusion of a high octane Scottish Cup replay which saw three Rangers players sent off and prompted Scottish government intervention.
It was a response which McCoist still regards as a gross over-reaction to the actual events but which underlines the necessity to try and keep emotions in check during Old Firm combat.
“The intensity of the game indicates that you have to concentrate more on your behaviour,” he said. “Because of the focus on this game – the first Old Firm league game in a long time – the eyes of the world are watching. Under those circumstances it has got the potential to explode.
“You are probably very well aware of your responsibilities more than you are for a normal league game. That whole thing around that game in 2011 was embarrassing. There were agendas there to try to do things that suited people in government.
“You get people punching lumps out of each other in other sports. Neil and I exchanged a few words, had a bottle of beer together afterwards and yet there were government summits. Come on, guys. I thought that was crazy.”
McCoist regards Celtic as firm favourites to win on Saturday but is gratified simply to see Rangers returning to a venue he once feared they may never play again following their financial collapse in 2012 during his ill-starred managerial tenure.
“There’s no way I’m going to sit here and say the result does not matter but at the same time I remember days three or four years ago when we were wondering if we would ever see an Old Firm fixture again,” he added. “That’s why we should all look forward to this game and enjoy it as much as we possibly can.”