If yesterday’s Old Firm proved one thing, it’s that while Rangers still very much have the edge in Glasgow, Celtic have improved enough to demonstrate there’s a lot less of a gulf between the two than there was but nowhere near enough to show they mean business.
All the hype going into this one was about how strongly Celtic had started the season, and how amazing their new ‘£30M’ striker Kyogo was. Indeed, they were going to put Rangers’ stuttering defence to the sword and take first blood of the campaign.
And while they certainly did have most of the play for the first 30 minutes, none of it went anywhere as a strong, defiant, and brilliantly-organised Rangers reduced hopeful Celtic to a bluster of nothing.
Their star striker was completely unable to do the damage which had the Scottish press hyping him to kingdom come, and Edouard’s open goal miss in the first half was 20x worse than Alfredo Morelos’ infamous attempt at the same goal a couple of years ago.
Indeed, Rangers’ organisation, workrate, tactics and formation absolutely snuffed the visitors out, and left rookie goalkeeper Robby McCrorie with a humorously quiet afternoon having only a few little moments to close out.
It was very, very impressive, and showed Celtic’s progress to be a hell of a lot less than they’d hoped, and the media had implied. The signs teased from their dismal display in Holland against the first half decent side they’d faced exposed everything Rangers needed to know, and gave Stevie the tools to hurt Stavros’s team with a lot more conviction than anyone had expected.
This wasn’t a complete thrashing, no, but Rangers were dynamic, strong, and had the look of champions. They looked like they had the complete measure of Celtic who were idealess, clueless, and completely insipid going forward.
In fact, anyone watching them for the first time (like, frankly, yours truly) would have wondered what on earth the fuss about Kyogo was. Balogun absolutely annihilated him.
It was a very ‘Walter-esque’ display – cunning, sharp, well-drilled and easily containing of their eastern guests who had no way through. Indeed, it was very reminiscent of poor Tommy Burns and his hapless Celtic who couldn’t beat Rangers for love nor money, no matter how well they played on the day.
It was, for Rangers fans, a joy to watch, and a real thrill to see our side do it on the big stage in front of the big crowd when it mattered.
Has that kick-started the season? We believe it might just have.