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Livi boss Gary Holt believes having no fans at games takes pressure off Rangers

Celtic v Livingston – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Livingston manager Gary Holt claims playing behind closed doors is helping Rangers.

Rangers are under pressure to stop Celtic winning a record 10th consecutive title and end their own trophy drought and have started the Scottish Premiership season in impressive fashion, scoring seven goals without reply in three wins.

Ahead of Rangers’ trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena on Sunday, former Kilmarnock midfielder Holt said: “I always go back to my time playing, when you go to Ibrox and Parkhead and when they come to your place and it’s a full house, and when you have a foothold in the game, the crowd can be a bit angsty. And that’s an added pressure.

“Rangers and Celtic have to win every game. That’s the pressure they are under. Their fans demand it. Their stature demands it.

“With no fans there it takes away that little bit of pressure, you can just play and make mistakes, play and make mistakes, and eventually good players will step up.

“But, as I said to the players, it’s 11 against 11, go toe to toe with your opposite number and try and better your opposite number, and if we can get more across the board than Rangers, then we can get something out the game.”

Holt criticised his team after two opening defeats but he was far happier after they twice came from behind to draw at Motherwell on Wednesday after putting the Lanarkshire side under pressure for much of the game.

Now Holt wants his players to cause similar problems for Steven Gerrard’s side.

“You want to test yourselves against the biggest teams in the league, you want to gauge where you’re at, to see if you can manage against these players, and live on TV, so what an opportunity to go and express your talents and see what you can get,” Holt said.

“I have been very impressed with Rangers and it’s going to be very tough.

“But we know how uncomfortable we can make it for them, for as long as possible. If we turn up and just worry about what Rangers are going to do, we will never perform, and that’s what I am trying to get through to the boys.

“We have identified what their strengths are but they have also got some weaknesses. But can we get enough of the ball to hurt them? Can we get into areas to hurt them? Do we have players brave enough to get on the ball and go and make errors in the right areas? Because it won’t always come off but, if you don’t try it, you will never know.

“I want them to be big and brave and go toe to toe and see what we can get.”