Rangers must not be bullied by Celtic this weekend

Rangers must not be bullied by Celtic this weekend
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 30: Ridvan Yilmaz of Rangers on the ball whilst under pressure from Daizen Maeda of Celtic during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Rangers FC at Celtic Park Stadium on December 30, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The days of Rangers players being regularly bullied by Scott Brown are of course a thing of the distant past now, but aside a few matches in 55, the Celtic midfielder was regularly too big and strong for anyone in Rangers’ midfield to handle.

And we must say his spiritual successor, Callum McGregor, equally big and strong, has also had a lot of joy against Rangers’ middle, with John Lundstram regularly not being up to the task of besting him.

For Rangers’ big enforcer, Lunny has frequently fallen short against Celtic, working hard, yes, but not coming close to truly dominating in the middle.

If we think about the number of duels in midfield that McGregor or his predecessor won, it’s not favourable reading for Rangers.

Far too often our Arfields, Jacks, Lunnies and Kamaras would be bullied in the centre, with the likes of Brown and McGregor always having the power to bat them away, and that is not what we’re looking for this weekend.

This is a major reason we very much advocated the selection of Dujon Sterling in the middle, albeit only he and manager Philippe Clement know the level of fitness he has and how much power he currently has.

Lunny just hasn’t ever put his foot down in an Old Firm and owned the midfield, and McGregor and his predecessor have done it far too much.

It’s a major reason Celtic have such a strong record against us in the past few years – McGregor frequently wins the midfield battle and that’s usually where matches are won and lost at this level.

Rangers in the old days could call on midfield generals like Barry Ferguson and Kevin Thomson – big strong guys with their foot on the ball and the power to match.

These days we’ve been far too lightweight for beating Celtic, and if we’re honest, we’re not sure Diomande has enough physical prowess to go toe-to-toe with the likes of McGregor either.

We did advocate, as said, for Dujon in the middle with his power, because we certainly wouldn’t think Nico Raskin has any, but the potential Jamaica cap is still in rehab and putting his minutes together.

One thing is clear, Rangers have been bullied in the midfield by Celtic for longer than we care to remember, and Lunny has been a surprising lightweight for the majority of his Old Firm encounters.

We need a tougher display from him, and we really could use Sterling in there too.

We don’t want McGregor and co owning the middle.

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  1. Can’t forget the 55/Gerrard days when Arfield/Davis/Jack dominated that midfield, even the games we never won, wasn’t there fault Morelos couldn’t finish his dinner or Sakala would miss open goals. Anything they picked up from us then was usually from a number of contentious decisions (handball/offside goals)

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