Former Rangers defender Arthur Numan has warned the Ibrox new boys not to be wound up by Celtic captain Scott Brown in tomorrow’s Old Firm derby.
The Dutchman says it’s essential that a seasoned veteran of this fixture, Kenny Miller, is used as a steadying influence as Rangers somehow try to halt Celtic’s astonishing unbeaten domestic run which has now stretched to 56 matches.
Rangers could have as many as eight or nine debutants either in the starting line-up or at least in the squad and he knows most of them – the Latin Americans in particular – will have experienced nothing like it.
Numan, who played in 16 derbies between 1998 and 2003, said: “Scott Brown knows exactly what to do against Rangers so it’s important for the Rangers players to keep calm and stay focused.
“They must not take the bait and get involved – especially the Latin American players who tend to have that passion.
“I went this year to the South American Youth Cup in Ecuador and you could see the mentality of the players from all the counties. They have this ‘go for it’ attitude and a winning mentality which is sometimes missing in Holland, for example.
“But they will need to control it – especially with Scott Brown on the park. He has the same winning mentality – just like Barry Ferguson and Neil Lennon in my day – and you need that in your team.
“He has the passion and he can fire up the opposition.
“A lot of the players are new so they won’t know what it means to be involved in an Old Firm game. You need players like Kenny Miller with a Scottish background who can hopefully explain the intensity of the fixture.
“I think Kenny Miller will at least start the game because he knows exactly what it is like and he can help the others.”
Numan feels simply holding Celtic at bay would quantify success. However, Rangers have been given encouragement from an unlikely source in former Celtic defender Paul Elliott.
In contrast to the current state of affairs, Rangers were the dominant force when Elliott joined Celtic in 1989 but the eloquent Londoner said he did not feel second best. He said: “Rangers were the leading side back then, no question but we never had an inferiority complex. Look at the record books and Celtic actually did quite well against Rangers in games.
“We lost the Skol Cup Final in 1990 but I remember we put them out the Scottish Cup a couple of times. Our record was quite good – so I don’t think there was any complex.
“This is a great chance for Rangers to put a marker down and make a statement of intent. If Rangers win this game, it could kick them on as confidence is 95 per cent of football.
“Rangers are at home, it’s the first Old Firm of the season and they will want to give their fans something to be energised about.”
l Arthur Numan and Paul Elliott were speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is a proud sponsor of Scottish football.