Ange Postecoglou urges Celtic to give their fans some long-awaited derby cheer

Celtic v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has urged his players to give their fans some long-awaited derby cheer.

Hoops fans have not been inside a stadium against Rangers since December 29, 2019 and they have not enjoyed victory over their rivals since the League Cup final earlier in the same month.

Rangers have won six of the subsequent seven meetings and a stadium full of Celtic fans will do their best to back their team to improve that record on Wednesday night.

Those fans got a pre-derby lift on Saturday when Liel Abada’s last-gasp winner against Dundee United saw Celtic cut the gap on the cinch Premiership leaders to two points following Rangers’ 3-3 draw with Ross County earlier in the day.

Postecoglou said: “Our supporters didn’t have the chance to watch a derby last season or at the start of this season so having a full Celtic Park welcoming them out will be great.

“It’s important particularly for our supporters because there’s no doubting that this is a fixture they look forward to and, particularly at home, they want to have an enjoyable night and that means us playing well and winning.

“The whole psychology of it, I have been around long enough to know that should we win the first question will be: ‘Does this mean you get complacent or some sort of edge?’.

“The reality is it’s an important game for us and this football club for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it’s important for our fans and, secondly, we have a chance to go top and climb up a position, which would be good.

“But after that we have to dust ourselves off and go again at the weekend.”

Celtic lost 1-0 at Ibrox in August following Filip Helander’s goal but Postecoglou’s team has developed since then.

Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie have moved on while the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley will be looking to get their first taste of the fixture.

“Not that you felt less confident when we went there, it was still a pretty tight game when we played them,” Postecoglou said when asked if he felt more confident for his first experience of the game.

“But it was early in the piece and we were still very unsettled. We signed a few players after that game and two or three in the starting line-up probably left after that game if my memory serves me well.”

Postecoglou, whose side have won 12 of their last 13 games, added: “It was a different period for us but we have been pretty settled for the last few months in terms of our form and performances and results, so that’s what we want to continue.”

Rangers are under new management since then following Steven Gerrard’s departure and the arrival of Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, and Postecoglou has noticed a difference.

“In terms of personnel they haven’t changed too much,” he said. “They have certainly become a little bit more solid defensively since Giovanni has taken over.

“I guess for him when you come in mid-season it’s hard to make major change. They have been in decent form and already going well so you wouldn’t expect them, with minimal personnel changes, to be doing anything too drastic in the way they go about things.”

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