Rangers manager who lost 7-in-a-row to Celtic sends Michael Beale 'monstrous pressure' warning
McLeish recalled the agony of an Old Firm manager forced to endure a run of winless matches in the fixture. He was fortunate in that he enjoyed a victory in his first clash against Celtic – a CIS Cup semi-final in 2002, when Bert Konterman scored the winner in extra time. But he also suffered seven consecutive defeats against Martin O’Neill’s Celtic later in his Ibrox tenure.
“There’s monstrous pressure,” said McLeish. “I guess it’s the same for any of the top teams in the world who are expected to win every single week and I certainly felt it when we were going through bad spells.
“I couldn’t sleep at night, and when I did nod off, I’d waken up and the pressure was straight back again. We really care that much about it and there’s no chance of just brushing it off. So, it’s vital to get a win and be either equal with your big rivals or getting above them.”
Beale has drawn once against Celtic and lost twice, including a Viaplay Cup final, since returning to Ibrox as manager. The pressure is building ahead of Sunday’s clash, with Celtic targeting a fifth treble in eight years.
McLeish experienced two extremes as Rangers manager. He enjoyed a six-match unbeaten spell against Celtic at the start of his Ibrox tenure after joining from Hibs. And he endured O’Neill’s record-breaking run of seven wins against Rangers between 2003 and 2004.
“Honestly, it’s torture,” said McLeish. “I went through a spell later in my Rangers career when we couldn’t beat them. You go through that barren spell when you don’t get a result against your big rivals and it is absolute torture.
“Rangers will need to play at their very best level and probably Celtic should not be at their best level for Rangers to win, I feel, with the way things are at the moment.
“It does take a wee bit of inspiration and they’ve got to go there, not hoping they can win but believing they can win. Do they have that feeling in the camp? They’ve got to have that.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.