Football: Macari preaches harmony

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The Independent Online
LOU MACARI, who takes his place in the Parkhead dug-out for the first time today, has asked Celtic's disaffected fans to put their boardroom prejudices to one side and lend the team their unqualified support against Partick Thistle.

'I need the supporters to get right behind the players from start to finish. If they want to shout at the directors, they can do it after the game,' Macari said. The new Celtic manager wants to unite the support as quickly as possible, despite an undercurrent of ill-feeling towards the board, leading to hints of a Parkhead boycott. However, Macari believes that would achieve nothing at a time when he is preaching harmony.

Celtic are suffering from a catalogue of injuries. Gary Gillespie and John Collins are ruled out after taking knocks in the midweek European defeat against Sporting Lisbon while Mike Galloway and Mark McNally are still unfit. Dariusz Wdowczyk and Brian O'Neil, however, are standing by.

Partick, who beat Celtic at Parkhead just over a year ago, are without Isaac English, who has a knee injury, but hope Alex Taylor is fit after a bout of flu.

Rangers, beaten by Kilmarnock at Ibrox earlier in the season, seek to turn the tables at Rugby Park without the assistance of the injured Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven. David Hagen and Neil Murray come into the squad as Walter Smith, the Rangers' manager, demands his side 'make up lost ground' by winning at Kilmarnock.

Smith said: 'Slackness has cost us dearly in recent weeks and it has got to be a team effort to sort it out.' Rangers are three points behind the leaders Aberdeen, who are without the suspended Gary Smith for the tie with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. Robert Connor is poised to fill the vacant left-back position.

Despite defeat by Torino in the Cup-Winners' Cup on Wednesday, Willie Miller, the Aberdeen manager, said: 'There is no despondency here. We are at the top of the table and intend staying there.'