Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish thinks his old side need to go into Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with confidence that they can defeat Celtic for the first time this season.
Michael Beale’s team are cup holders but face a Celtic side that got the better of them last time they met at the national stadium in the Viaplay Cup final.
McLeish, who led Rangers to a clean sweep of domestic trophies in 2002-03, says that the mental approach to the match will be vital for his old side and they can’t go into the fixture just hoping they will prevail.
“Everybody at Ibrox has to be going into that game believing that they’ll win, not hoping that they can win,” he said.
“They must have that belief.
“The mind always plays tricks on you and it’s easy to talk about. You don’t just say ‘Let’s believe today, guys’, do you believe or do you just hope?
“I know you can’t get belief just by saying it but they have go the players that can match Celtic.”
The former Ibrox boss says Rangers have to get it right at both ends of the park, not only nullifying the threat from Ange Postecoglou’s side but also finding a way to get their own attacking players on the ball in the right areas.
He explained: “There has to be some kind of strategy that not only are you looking for Rangers’ flair players to turn it on but you’ve got to have a strategy to stop the opposition.
“I went into a final against Arsenal with Birmingham City a few years ago and we knew the Arsenal strengths so we had to try and stop them. Rangers have to stop Celtic’s strengths.
“The fast guys that are in the team, they’ve got to be isolating defenders, getting one on ones and taking people on, making a difference. That’s what we’ve seen Celtic doing in the last 12 months or more.”
With the Glasgow sides meeting twice in the space of two weeks, Beale is looking for a positive end to the season before embarking on a title challenge next year. McLeish says there will be some pressure but it’s par for the course.
“You know when you’re at a club like Rangers or Celtic, you’re at a club that need to win every single week,” he said. “Michael will have been hurting just at losing the Aberdeen game.
“He’ll know, having worked at Ibrox for a few years, what the expectations are.
“He’ll be doing everything in his power to get these players motivated to win this game and to believe that they can win this game. It will take special performance levels.
“I felt that pressure and I’m speaking from experience. It’s not as if I’m trying to put Michael on the spot here. That’s the facts of life with Rangers and of any club throughout the world that has those expectations.”
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