Bocanegra: Rangers will hold their nerve

 

Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra believes there will be plenty of time for further twists in the Scottish Premier League title race no matter the result of tomorrow's Old Firm derby at Celtic.

Ally McCoist's side have seen their lead at the top of the SPL trimmed from 12 points to one by their fiercest rivals, with Celtic winning eight successive games. Rangers, who won the first derby meeting of the season 4-2 at Ibrox, are seeking to bounce back from Saturday's 2-1 defeat at St Mirren and avoid being overtaken at the league summit before the turn of the year.

United States international Bocanegra said: "Every Old Firm game is huge and I'm looking forward to testing ourselves against our biggest rivals. Any time you have a chance to get a result against [Celtic], it's a big opportunity and there was a lot of energy around the club after we won the last derby in September.

"Everyone at Rangers was happy and they all had a little pep in their step so we want to experience that sort of thing again. At the same time, there is still a long way to go this season and we're only around the halfway point at the moment.

"While this is a big game, there are a lot more points to be won and lost after this game and what happens this week will decide nothing."

Bocanegra insisted it was important to approach the fixture calmly, despite a run of three wins in six games. He added: "It is fun for the media and the fans to build up because it's an exciting game but it's up to us to prepare well mentally rather than get caught up in that. I'm certainly not going to play the fixture down but we must focus the way we would for any other game.

"We can't let all the hype get into our heads before the match because all the emotions will be there on game day."

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith hopes the Old Firm fixture can help his successor McCoist and his team rediscover the consistency that took them clear at the top of the table. Smith said: "I think an Old Firm game brings out the best in a team.

"They have had a fantastic level of consistency in the SPL and have been doing a great job there. While I know from speaking to Alistair [McCoist] that they haven't played at their best over the last few matches, an Old Firm game can maybe bring that out in them."

Being at the league summit when the calendar clicks over on New Year's Eve can be advantageous, according to Smith. He added: "If you can get in to the new year and find yourself in a good position in the championship then you can look forward, and psychologically it's a big thing."

Celtic manager Neil L ennon praised his team's character after watching further confirmation of their revival in the win against Kilmarnock on Christmas Eve. The solid performance from Celtic was in stark contrast to the Hoops' previous encounter against the Ayrshire side. Celtic had to come from three goals down at Rugby Park in October to rescue a point, and Lennon admitted afterwards that he had considered his position at the interval when his side looked down and out.

Lennon has slowly rebuilt his side's confidence and belief, but he played down the change in his own fortune from the time when his side were 15 points behind Rangers. "I don't feel any different," he said. "I am pleased the players are playing to their capabilities."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering