Smith admits Old Firm jitters may creep in

Walter Smith believes nerves will begin to kick in for both halves of the Old Firm this week as they continue their rival challenges for the Scottish Premier League title.

Rangers and Celtic have both scraped unconvincing victories in the SPL in recent weeks, with a single point all that separates the Glasgow giants at the summit. Despite the nature of those narrow wins, Smith does not reckon too many jitters have been evident so far but admits that could all be about to change with the final Old Firm derby of the season looming this weekend.

Asked if he was aware of an increase in tension and anxiety, the Rangers manager said yesterday: "I think we will start to experience that now. I don't think we have witnessed a great deal of that so far. It's part and parcel of getting to this stage of the season. It happens if your team is fortunate enough to be involved in attempting to win a championship or your team are fighting relegation – there is a nervous aspect that has to be overcome."

A large number of the Rangers squad have been involved in delivering the SPL crown in the last two seasons and Smith added: "You always hope the experience will be a good thing for you. But Celtic have a freshness about them that can counter that bit of experience we've got. It comes down to how we do and how we handle the matches. The old managerial adage of taking one game at a time is exactly what you have to do at this stage of the season."

Before the visit of Celtic on Sunday, Rangers travel to Tannadice to take on Dundee United tonight, but Smith does not believe the next seven days will necessarily be the most crucial week in the title race. "I hope not, in the sense that we would hope to get through this week and have vital games to come in the future," he said. "As we get to this stage, each of the games you play become important in the run-in. Dundee United have beaten us at Ibrox recently, so we don't need to be reminded of the difficulties of going to Tannadice. It will be an extremely difficult match for us."

Rangers blew the chance to move top of the SPL when they suffered that 3-2 defeat to United earlier this month. Smith said: "It's not so much about revenge – it's just getting back to a situation where we hope to make up for that defeat. It was a costly one for us, in the sense that we could have gone to the top of the league in our own right and managed to stay there with the results we have had since that game.

"I just hope we can show good form. It was actually a very good game at Ibrox and we were disappointed with the manner in which we lost the last goal. There was slackness on our own part and a bit of desperation to try to win the game. We will need to make up for that."

Shaun Maloney's tap-in for Celtic against Aberdeen on Sunday was possibly the easiest goal of his career but few have been more enjoyable. Maloney came off the bench to net the final goal in Celtic's 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final triumph at Hampden.

Celtic have seven matches left in the SPL, starting with a trip to Kilmarnock tomorrow. Maloney said: "It was a pretty easy finish in the end but it was just very enjoyable, and anything I can do to help with the result is a massive bonus. Every game, there is so much riding on it. We would much rather be in a position like this than we were at this time last season."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links