Picking themselves up for the Scottish Cup semi-final next month will be a tough task for Rangers after their pre-match “cockiness” backfired against Celtic in agonising circumstances last weekend, Tom Boyd has claimed.
The Celtic ambassador knows what it feels like to be under the yoke in the Glasgow rivalry, with Rangers’ 1990s run of nine-straight titles notable for the team’s ability to come up with all the answers in potentially-pivotal derby matches.
The current six-times champions did that in spades with their 3-2 victory at Ibrox last Sunday and Boyd maintains that will be hugely demoralising for the Ibrox men and their manager Graeme Murty, who Boyd feels dug a hole for his team by revealing they had cheered being paired with Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
“The game on Sunday was as damaging a defeat as any at Ibrox for them and there are a few reasons for that,” Boyd said. “There was the cockiness from them beforehand and the cheering from their dressing room after they’d been drawn against the champions in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. They’d been given some adulation after being in some wonderful games and scoring a lot of goals against some lesser opposition, so they’d gone into the game with some confidence.
“Add to that they were playing in their own territory, they’d been in front twice and Celtic had then gone down to ten men and still beaten them, which shows the commitment and the desire of Brendan [Rodgers’] players.
“It will be a big blow for them. Harking back to the 1990s, Rangers were on top and had all these international and world-class players. Celtic have that now and it’s the extra quality they have – as well as a top, top manager – which makes the difference. Rangers also have a very inexperienced man in charge [in Graeme Murty], compared to Brendan.
“I think that’s probably part of his [Murty’s] learning curve as a manager. You don’t ever give the opposition a motivational speech and that’s what he did. Not that Celtic need it. But here was a cockiness and optimism that was unfounded.”
l Tom Boyd and Simon Donnelly will be appearing at a series of stage events titled Smell The Glove to mark 20 years since Celtic’s historic 1998 title triumph.