Kenny Dalglish poses Rangers dilemma ahead of crunch Celtic clash
Kenny Dalglish predicts his former side Celtic will win a “very, very close” fifth Old Firm derby of the season, as Rangers pursue a European final.
Victory for the league leaders will essentially confirm them as title winners, while Gers have the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig to contend with (5 May).
And while the former Scotland striker doesn’t think Giovanni van Bronckhorst can look past today’s game to midweek, it may have to rescue the week after defeat today.
In his Sunday Post column the ex-Hoops hero said: “What’s the most important thing? Success over Celtic today, or reaching a European Final?
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Celtic winning today to all but clinch the title. It’s well-deserved for big Ange Postecoglou and his players.
“Rangers can also have a successful week, and I’ll be interested to see Giovanni’s team selection for today.
“I don’t think he can make too many changes. His team needs to be strong.
“If he leaves out too many players we’d regard as starters, then it’s sending out a message that they are tired. That’s not the way to go about it.
“So it makes for an interesting few days.
“The games are coming thick and fast, and this will be the fourth Old Firm game in three months, and the fifth of the season.
“It stands at two wins apiece just now. With home advantage, my former club should edge it today – but it will be very, very close.”
Not let up
A win at Parkhead today would at the very least allow Gers and their manager to confidently say they pushed their Glasgow rivals right to the end.
Taking the season’s head-to-head 3-2 when the cup semi-final is factored in, and winning the last two, would also leave Ange Postecoglou’s side with a strong reminder that the Bears aren’t going anywhere even if they give up their title.
A meek loss in the final Old Firm derby of the season would be a bad look all round, whether the European semi is upcoming or not.
Life at Ibrox dictates that if the season is anything close to a success the team should be in this sort of situation at the end of the season.
That doesn’t make it any easier to keep battling in must-win games with only a few days rest repeatedly.
And the injury risk is real, as shown by Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey’s lay-offs following the Hampden win.
But the alternative to going all out is worse, handing over their title with somewhat of a whimper.
Van Bronckhorst has to be smart, and utilise his squad during the game, but not in such a way that suggests this team has given up.
Even if there was a 20 point gap, the Old Firm derby is the Old Firm derby, and the boost from a positive result would ignite the atmosphere at Ibrox on Thursday beyond what it will already be.
In other Rangers news, Derek McInnes has sent Gers a stark warning ahead of the Celtic clash.