Steven Gerrard issued specific instructions not to get drawn into the Celtic captain’s mind-games and to keep emotions in check when facing their Old Firm rivals in the ferocious derby atmosphere and turned the tide in the title race – going undefeated in the city rivalry en route to a 55th league championship.
Departed goalkeeper Andy Firth revealed the focus drummed into the squad by the coaching staff ahead of the crucial games in the title race – and Celtic’s central figure.
“To give credit to him, he was unbelievable at winding people up and getting people sent off. It can change a game,” Firth, speaking of Brown, told Football Scotland. “That was the thing for us; don’t let him get in your head. When we go to their place, don’t let the fans get into your head.
“You’ve just got to control what you can control and that’s keeping your discipline on the pitch and ignoring the crowd and opposition players. The first 18 months of the gaffer being there, our disciplinary record was pretty shambolic.
“I think our discipline over the last two seasons has been absolutely spot on and I think that’s definitely played a part in the shift in the mentality and the discipline of the players. Keeping 11 men on the pitch for the majority of time and not letting people wind you up and get red cards definitely helped in the last two years.”
Firth left Rangers this summer and joined Connah’s Quay Nomads in the Welsh Premier League. The goalkeeper, a former Academy player at Liverpool where both Gerrard and Michael Beale worked, spent three years as a back-up at Ibrox, making one appearance after a move from Barrow.
Brown left Celtic a year ago after winning 10 league titles and the Scottish Cup and League Cup six times each. He initially joined Aberdeen as player-coach but embarked on his managerial career this summer with Fleetwood Town.