Football: Ibrox is no place for `crazed Red Indians'

Number nine will be uppermost in the minds of those players in the Old Firm match at Ibrox today when Rangers will attempt to take a major step towards equalling Celtic's record of nine consecutive championships, established under Jock Stein.

Victory for Walter Smith's side would increase their lead over Celtic, who have two games in hand, to 14 points. Furthermore, it would be Rangers' ninth fixture without defeat against their old rivals.

It is a game which Celtic need to win if they are to start making serious inroads into Rangers' lead but their manager, Tommy Burns, has stressed the need for caution in a game which will be watched live by a crowd of 51,000 and millions of satellite TV viewers. "It is a question of being calm for us going into this game," Burns said. "We don't want to go there like crazed Red Indians."

Celtic have been dealt 10 red cards this season with Burns himself reported by the referee, Hugh Dallas, in the last derby match in November.

Burns is considering a change of tactics after falling foul of Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne in the past 18 months. All the signs are that Celtic will sit back in front of a three-man defence, looking to catch Rangers on the break. Yet there may be no starting place for the Dutch striker, Pierre van Hooijdonk, who is expected to return home in the near future and join either Feyenoord or PSV Eindhoven.

Celtic are expected to recall Jackie McNamara with Andreas Thom also in contention, while Paul McStay, the captain, will surely take his place after his comeback against Dunfermline last Saturday.

Rangers' line-up looks easier to predict with the Swedish defender Joachim Bjorklund likely to return, even though he has not had a reserve outing, after missing seven matches because of a hamstring injury. He was due to play at Kilmarnock last Saturday until that game was postponed and could now join Alan McLaren and Richard Gough in a three-man defence with Paul Gascoigne, Jorg Albertz and Ian Ferguson in midfield and Ally McCoist and Brian Laudrup in attack.

"Rangers have got stronger and stronger over the last six or seven years," Burns said. "We came from fourth or fifth in the Premier League to within four points of the title last season. Other people forget that but it hasn't bypassed me. Rangers have set unbelievable standards over the last couple of years but so have we. Perseverance is a great thing and we'll keep asking questions of them until the door opens.

"If we win we will get a huge lift from it but we would only get three points. What we want most is something in the trophy cabinet at the end of the season. We won't get that if we win at Ibrox, just three points."

Asked if composure would be needed amid the new year mayhem, Burns replied: "Yes. That is the most important element, both in life never mind Old Firm matches."

He denied that he felt intimidated by Rangers' run of success against his club, which includes five defeats, two of them this season. "I don't feel any frustration," he said. "We have learned to step away from that. We've met them twice this season and played well in both games.

"At Ibrox the last time we hit the bar and the post and a decision early on went against us. We deserved something from that game after losing a player [Tosh McKinlay] shortly before half-time.

"At Parkhead in November, Laudrup went up the park a couple of times and scored once. We got caught too far up the field pushing for a goal but it was understandable with 50,000 screaming for you to score. We must learn from that."

Smith would not go as far as to say victory for Rangers would all but wrap up the title, but was in no doubt about the significance of one over the old enemy today.

"A lot of people have maintained that the Old Firm games are decisive in the championship," he said. "If that is the case, we have won two of the four games already and if we can win this one we'll be in a strong position."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Infrastructure Engineer

£28000 - £34000 per annum + excellent bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: In...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor