Graeme Murty says Rangers should feed off their Old Firm hurt today as they aim to smash Celtic’s double treble dream and reach the Scottish Cup final
There was a wave of optimism ahead of the last league meeting between the two sides on 11 March, but there was a familiar outcome as Celtic, despite having ten men and being behind twice, won 3-2.
Murty hopes his players can utilise the pain of that occasion to give the suffering supporters some joy against their arch rivals and, of course, a place in the Cup final on 19 May.
The fact that it would also prevent Celtic from sweeping the boards for a second consecutive season would be equally joyful for the Rangers faithful.
Murty said: “We should remember how much it hurt, remember we had good opportunities to get something from the game and I want them to use that as fuel to drive them to a more positive day.
“I want them to walk off the pitch with smiles on their faces rather than having that hurt they had the last time.
“If we get to that smiling sensation we’ll have done our jobs really well.
“I just want to say to the players, concentrate on what we do well and don’t worry about anything else that’s out of our control.
“There are lots of people who are going to say stuff going into the game, there are loads of predictions that are going to come.
“But it will be really good for us if we take all of that and then walk of the pitch on Sunday with smiles on our faces because we’re through to the final.
“If we do that we will be in a good place. There has been lots of stuff in the public domain I haven’t really looked at.
“I just want to focus on the players’ understanding of our pattern and our play and our structure. That’s my sole focus.
“I need to make sure they walk onto the pitch on Sunday with the belief and understanding and the drive to go and get the game won.”
Rangers have not won the Scottish Cup since 2009 but simply winning an Old Firm game will be a major step for Murty and his players.
The Ibrox manager feels it would be a catalyst for a strong end to the season.
He said: “I believe this group is ready to take the next step and the next step is to win the game and that would set us up for a good end to the season,
“I would love to think that when they walk onto the pitch every single member of our team believes they can win.
“I’m not sure how many expected us to win last time. Internally, we were in a good place and positive mood and there was definitely a positive atmosphere at Ibrox.
“And then when you take the lead within three minutes that feeds into it but we have to make sure that regardless of expectation and what other people think about it that we’re clear on us, what we do and our expectations and aspirations.
“If we are that then I believe we’ll be together, cohesive and make sure we give them a tough game. Other than that, we won’t be paying too much attention to what people outside our environment say.
“It would be brilliant for the fans, the club and this group of players if we could win.”