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Let Battle Commence - Again

20 Feb 2011 10:26:18

Let Battle Commence - Again

Today's game is number four of seven meetings between Celtic and Rangers scheduled for this season. It does not lessen the tension between the sides. Celtic manager Neil Lennon is suffering from derby fatigue and is finding it difficult to approach a total of seven Old Firm games in the one season with the usual relish. Today sees Celtic and Rangers meet for the fourth time in 2010-11 when they gather at Parkhead for a league game. Lennon insists the SPL game will not lose any edge given the close nature of the title race - Rangers are in second place just five points behind with two games in hand. The public feud between Celtic captain Scott Brown and Rangers player El-Hadji Diouf during and after the recent drawn cup clash adds further spice to an always hard-fought occasion. But Lennon admits he could do without the extra strain an Old Firm build-up provides seven times a season. He said: "It's probably too many but that's just the way the fixtures have thrown it up with four in the league, the cup draw and the cup final. The supporters might like it every week but for the managers, four would be plenty. I think it takes a lot out of both sets of players as well at times. And again there is a lot of hype that fills papers for days beforehand and days after. It's a game. It's an important game obviously, but I think if there were less games you would probably look forward to them more.'' Lennon does not deviate from the pre-game routine and did not mention their opponents to his players until Friday in a bid to keep preparations level-headed and normal. He said: "I try and take it as just another week. You have to put up with all the hype that goes with it and sometimes the games get over-hyped for me. But at the end of the day there are three points riding on it, although the winners get a psychological lift. For the last two days we concentrate solely on the game and not all the other nonsense that goes with it. I try to avoid people this week as best I can, cocoon myself away with my thoughts and just come into my work and get on with it. I stick to my usual private routine in the build-up to the game, I'm superstitious that way.'' Rangers captain David Weir feels no need to remind any of his team-mates to keep calm during the game. He said: "They (any feuds) can get out of hand but I don't think we can be accused of that, so I don't think there is anything to discuss or anything new in regards to that. I think everyone has conducted themselves well.'' Rangers will be out to regain after two disappointing derbies at Ibrox this year. Georgios Samaras scored the only two goals in the first game before Celtic fought back with 10 men to claim a fifth-round replay in the Scottish Cup. Weir said: "You always have a point to prove. If you're a professional footballer and you play for Rangers, I think you have a point to prove in every game, and that won't change.'' Comments from Rangers manager have added a further edge to the game, which will give the winners the advantage in the title race. Walter Smith picked his moment to dismiss the conspiracy theories he feels are promoted from within Celtic Park. Celtic chairman John Reid recently launched an attack on the SFA's decision-making procedures, saying at the club's AGM that they would no longer be "treated as less than anyone else". Parkhead striker Gary Hooper was recently warned by the SFA for, rather clumsily, saying that referees might give decisions against his team because they are one of the biggest clubs in the world. The club also wrote to the SFA seeking clarification on several refereeing decisions earlier this season but former manager Gordon Strachan this week ridiculed the conspiracy theorists. Smith said: "You can't win three successive titles with people conspiring against you. This has been a situation Celtic have been happy to promote but when their former manager comes out and says there is no conspiracy then you can realise why. He was good enough when he was there to lead his team to three titles so, from a Rangers point of view, did people conspire against us during that period of time? The truth is that they didn't and the truth is that they don't.'' Editor Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)Admin Team (admin@scottishfitba net)This is ScottishFitba Net


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