So it’s the big one next weekend – Rangers face old rivals Celtic in what is definitively a title match. If Rangers win this, it gives the current league leaders the first crumb of doubt that Michael Beale’s side can usurp them, while if Celtic win it’s absolutely categorically game over.
A draw is no use to Rangers at all and means pretty much the same as a home win.
So all the pressure is 100% on Rangers to go to Parkhead and get three points in front of no travelling fans, with even more pressure on Michael Beale to finally get an Old Firm right for the first time as boss.
See, Beale was the brains behind Steven Gerrard and 55, but he was the brains that gave Gerrard the tools and options. He compiled the tactics, formations, even selections, but it was Gerrard who made the choices and the subs, on consultation with Beale and indeed Gary Mac.
This is why, while Beale masterminded 55, Gerrard gets the credit – it’s like being given three great options, but only one of them is right on a particular day. Get it wrong, it’s on you. Get it right, it’s your glory.
And Gerrard took Beale’s options and in 55? Got it right. It all fell into place – and that includes v Celtic, who had no answer to Rangers.
But now it’s different – Beale isn’t providing the options and letting the manager decide, he’s making the decisions himself – and against Celtic it’s fallen flat twice.
This is why so much pressure sits on his shoulders – the team is in decent form, results wise, but we’ve been here twice already under this boss and he’s shirked his Old Firm lines.
So on Saturday a tonne of questions are answered. Has Beale learned? Is he the right manager against Celtic? Is Malik Tillman good enough v Celtic. What other players will sink or swim in that match.
While a win doesn’t bring Rangers the title, it would be a massive statement of intent in the right direction, and it would give fans hope that the manager and squad can deliver in these matches.
Celtic know a win pretty much seals the title 100%, and a draw does too, but a Rangers win and there’s a little bit of doubt now.
The home side will be 100% up for this match, and Rangers have to finally bury the Michael Beale Celtic hoodoo.
We’ll see how it goes come next weekend.