Connor Goldson took confidence from yesterday’s Old Firm game despite Rangers’ defeat because it proved Celtic aren’t as good as he was given to believe.
Goldson, a summer recruit from Brighton & Hove Albion, got fed up with hearing reports of how far ahead of everyone else Celtic were. He arrived in Scotland thinking the Scottish champions deserved to be feared like Barcelona. He felt even some Rangers players had bought into the hype last season.
The scorelines did often suggest there was a gulf between the Old Firm rivals. The last two meetings last season saw Celtic score nine goals with no reply. Brendan Rodgers’ side scored another one yesterday through Olivier Ntcham to win 1-0 but hit the woodwork a further four times. Goldson believes the way Rangers contained Celtic gives them hope for the rest of the season and shows the gap between the Glasgow rivals is not as wide as often portrayed.
“Obviously this is the first time I have played in a derby but I have just said that when I came here in pre-season I heard a lot of people say how much better they were, how they beat Rangers 5-0 last season,” he said.
“I thought they were going to be like Barcelona,” he added. “I am not just saying that. There was such a downer in our football club of how big the gap was that I think it was like some of our players, that are maybe not here anymore, were looking at them like they were nowhere near catchable. I am not going to say they are not a good team. They are a good team and we respect them. But I think we are getting closer. The players the manager has brought in have only been together for two, three months. We will get closer.”
Asked whether he was looking forward to having another opportunity to test his theory Celtic aren’t as good as he was expecting, he smiled and said: “I think I need a rest.”
Rangers next play their rivals on 29 December at Ibrox. Celtic are currently four points ahead of Rangers after five games. But Goldson reminded reporters of Rangers’ improvement to date under new manager Steven Gerrard as domestic football prepares to take a break for international fixtures.
“It has been a long few months. We have played a lot of football and the whole team needs a rest,” he said. “We have got to go on another run now. We were unbeaten in 12 games, which is good for a team that has literally just come together with 13, 14 new faces.
“We have just got to come back refreshed, get on another run and get ready for December when the next one comes.
“I said at the start I am proud to be in this team and they gave everything. Each man gave everything and the game plan was right,” he added. “Maybe we were too deep in the first half but we were frustrating them. I feel we are going to get closer.
“I can’t sit here after three or four games and say [there’s a title challenge]. We will definitely give everything and we just need to go on a run ourselves now after the international break and win games and see where it takes us.”
Goldson welcomed the challenge to his place from Gareth McAuley, whose signing Rangers are expected to tie up in the coming days. The 38-year-old Northern Ireland international is a free agent.
“Every team I have played in has had four centre halves and we are going to need it with the amount of games we are going to play,” he said. “It could be up to 60 now. We are going to need bodies and competition and people putting everyone on their toes. Hopefully it gets done and there is another face in our squad.”