Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill believes Rangers face an important test at Hampden on Sunday, as he has questioned their big match mentality.
Rangers have not beaten their Glasgow rivals in five games and failure to stop in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final will mean they finish the season without a trophy. Michael Beale will have the chance to reshape his squad in the summer after replacing Giovanni van Bronckhorst during the mid-season break, but he already faces pressure after losing the Viaplay Cup final and falling to 13 points behind Celtic in the Premier League . In a press conference organized by Viaplay TV, O’Neill said: “Obviously Celtic have the upper hand at the moment. Wins give you confidence and self-confidence.
“I think Rangers have some decent players but in the big moments they seem to falter. The last game was 1-1, a simple header, they should have tackled that and they almost tried to keep the ball in play. The next thing is Celtic are leading 2-1.” It comes from the results. Of course the Old Firm matches are enormously big. If you fail to win those matches, obviously confidence suffers a lot. “So this is a big, big test for Rangers, a really big test for them.” It’s amazing to say. Not long ago they were playing in a Europa League final, one step away from victory. “I had a lot of time for Van Bronckhorst as a person, a coach and a player. I really felt for him, I really did, I thought it was hard that he lost his job. But, listen, if you don’t win football matches, then you know the consequences.” Celtic had not beaten Rangers in seven games before O’Neill took over in the summer of 2000 and had won just four trophies in the previous 11 seasons. O’Neill described Rangers as the ‘landmark’ but his revamped Celtic side went on to beat Dick Advocaat’s men 6-2 in their first Old Firm derby en route to a domestic treble. Now the shoe is at the other end and O’Neill knows from experience Beale will feel the pressure to turn the tables. The former Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland midfielder said: “Absolutely, Celtic are the benchmark and Rangers they have to get there. And they will have to get there sooner rather than later. “When I entered, there was a gap of about 20 points. If you thought about it realistically, you would want to try to close that gap as soon as possible and then try to take over. won a couple of games we could have drawn even before playing Rangers. “So when they hammered us at Ibrox in November, we had enough confidence that we’d won the football games. “Rangers don’t have that to fall back on. In all fairness to the manager who has come in, until recently they were equal to Celtic in terms of league results but not catching up. “That meant the game against Celtic was huge, they had to win that game to close the gap. That didn’t happen. So Celtic are really the benchmark and Rangers need to do something about it, and relatively quickly. “You don’t have time, absolutely. Looking back, I was trying to talk myself into bridging the gap. I’m not sure it would hold for very long. I may have had a little leeway in the beginning, but in the end, you’re here to win. The manager knows anyway.”
The article Rangers have a big match mentality problem admits former Celtic boss Martin O’Neill first appeared on Planetsport.com.