Rangers: Steven Davis on beating Celtic in a cup final, new Ibrox deal and Old Firm title race

Steven Davis knows what it takes to beat Celtic in a cup final, having done it with Rangers in 2011
Steven Davis knows what it takes to beat Celtic in a cup final, having done it with Rangers in 2011
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Only one man in the Rangers ranks knows from personal experience what it takes to beat Celtic in a cup final.

And after playing his part in the one-sided 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final victory over Hearts to set up a showdown with the Ibrox club’s derby duellers, Steven Davis admitted a rerun of what ensued when the Glasgow foes last locked horns to decide the destination of a cup would suit him down to a tee.

That came in the 2011 League Cup final, when Davis netted the opening goal as Rangers secured an extra-time success over a Celtic then, as now, under the charge of Neil Lennon.

“It would be nice if history repeated itself but, listen, it’s going to be a difficult one to predict,” said the 34-year-old midfielder, who helped Walter Smith’s side to a league and League Cup double eight years ago that represent the last trophies that ended up at Ibrox.

“Both clubs have been in really good form since the start of the season and this is a game that will whet the appetite of the fans.”

In contrast, there is sure to be a degree of anxiety for some among the Rangers faithful over a League Cup final in which Celtic will bid for a tenth straight domestic honour following their unprecedented treble treble success.

“Whenever it comes to a cup final, history doesn’t necessarily come into it,” the Northern Ireland captain said.

“Naturally, we’ll need to give them a certain amount of respect because of what they’ve achieved in recent years and the consistency they’ve shown but the challenge for us is to go and lift the trophy. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the day and it’s ultimately which group of players can deal with it best and still perform on the day.

"I’ve never been involved in a cup final which has been comfortable, whether it’s been Celtic or anybody else. It’ll be a tough day but we’re hopeful we can come out on the right side of it.”

Never before in the previous three seasons have Rangers been a match for Celtic across the opening months of a campaign.

The fact only one goal seperates the pair at the summit of the Premiership could give rise the suggestion that whoever wins the League Cup final on December 8 could dent the other’s confidence in a title tussle in a campaign where Celtic are on a quest for a ninth straight championship.

Davis doesn’t really go there. He hasn’t entered into contract talks over the one-year extension his manager Steven Gerrard has stated it is imperative to iron out either, but believes this will be “easily done”.

“I’m not too sure if the final will have a bearing in terms of the league but of course psychologically it could give us a big boost if we were to go on and win it,” said Davis.

“So that’s the challenge for us – it’s always important to get that first trophy as a group as well. It gives you that appetite to go on and have more success.”

For Rangers captain James Tavernier, there was a degree of Hampden redemption yesterday on the back of featuring in the five straight semi-final losses the club have suffered since they were beaten by Hibernian in the 2016 Scottish Cup final.

“We haven't had the greatest of semi-finals since I have been here but a club like Rangers needs to be in finals and competing for trophies,” said the full-back who, in his fourth season at Ibrox, believes a pyschological hurdle has been vaulted.

“Especially for the lads who have been here,” he said. “Obviously the new lads that came in, that's what they were brought in to do, to take this club to finals and they have done that today.

“I have said throughout the season that this is the best team that I have played in since I have been here. We have a good group of lads who are well experienced and know when to win games, so we are delighted with the efforts we have put in against Hearts.

"[They were direct] and you’ve got to rise above that. We knew we had to compete first. The game at Tynecastle [we drew a fortnight ago] was a competitive game that we didn't compete to the best standards that we can. We knew if we competed today the quality would show.”