Brown reveals Jelavic remarks about Rangers’ 12-point cushion ‘fired us up’

AS CELTIC captain, Scott Brown’s job is to motivate his team. Back in mid-November, when Celtic were in need of galvanising, Brown was grateful that Nikica Jelavic did his work for him. With Rangers then holding a 12-point advantage over Celtic to lead the Premier League, Jelavic remarked “that should be enough to keep us there”.

It is six weeks since the Croatian forward said that, but the healthy lead is now a sickly single point and at Parkhead on Wednesday, Celtic know a win over Rangers will see them overtake their title rivals. Brown isn’t about to repeat Jelavic’s mistake and start predicting they will. His own interview, in the wake of the Christmas Eve 2-1 win over Kilmarnock, was circumspect. He could not resist, however, reminding Jelavic of his gaffe.

“It fired us up what he [Jelavic] said, of course it did,” said Brown. “Everyone has their opinion, but we always had a strong opinion that we could catch them. Pressure is part of the game, but we’ve managed to deal with it.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rangers’ setback at St Mirren, combined with Celtic’s win over Kilmarnock, means Neil Lennon’s side now occupy the box seat where Jelavic was once rather too comfortable. Brown is refusing to make any bold assertions about the midweek Old Firm derby and denied the Celtic players realised Rangers had lost despite the cheers around the stadium last Saturday.

“We didn’t know the Rangers score, we just knew we needed the three points,” said Brown. “Rangers is still a big game, still a have-to-win game for us, so we’re looking forward to it. We’re not thinking about going top of the league. We know stranger things have happened. Their defeat at St Mirren might build Rangers up now to have a great game against us, but we’re on a good run now and want to keep it going. Confidence has been the key.

“It just shows how good our team spirit is that we’ve gone on a run of eight SPL wins. It shows we’re playing really well, but we’ll have to take every game as it comes. We’ll have to take it one step at a time. We’ll wait until Wednesday’s game and see what happens. We’ve caught up and that’s the main thing. A lot of it has been for the manager, but it’s for ourselves and for the fans as well.”

Brown’s return to fitness from an ankle problem has aided Celtic, with the next potential help being Emilio Izaguirre’s recovery from a broken leg.

With a new deal signed and the questions about Brown’s future gone, there is perhaps a greater appreciation of the player from the Celtic support.

Games like the one on Wednesday are why he stayed. Performances like last Saturday’s are why the Parkhead faithful are pleased he did.

“There’s always going to be a hard patch during a season,“ added Brown. “It shows our spirit that we’ve picked it up and gone again. The Old Firm game brings the best out of everyone. It’s one of the biggest games in the world so it’s a joy to play in. We can’t get too hyped by the crowd, we should focus on playing our own game.”