Celtic look ready to wrestle title back, Rangers look ready to let them

Celtic put one hand on the Premiership trophy and Rangers title defence was put on life support.

Celtic look ready to wrestle title back, Rangers look ready to let them SNS Group

Sunday was the day Celtic put one hand on the Premiership trophy and Rangers title defence was put on life support.

With three points separating these fierce rivals heading into the derby, stakes couldn’t have been higher.

The prematch atmosphere was electric. The sight of a small corner of green amongst a sea of red white and blue was a sign of this fixture moving back in the right direction.

What certainly isn’t heading in the right direction, on yesterday’s showing, is Giovanni van Bronkchorst’s Rangers.

Aaron Ramsey lit the touch paper early doors with a wonderfully worked goal, but what followed must have even the most optimistic of Rangers fans worried.

Celtic weathered the early storm and produced a battling performance to secure their second successive derby win.

The previous Glasgow Derby Celtic blew their rivals away with scintillating, attacking football. Sunday showed Celtic’s uglier, but just as effective, side.

Dogged, resilient, brave.

With Alfredo Morelos missing many questioned where the Rangers firepower would come from, and they were right to do so.

As the clock ticked down, Rangers quickly ran out of ideas. The composure and accuracy shown for Ramsey’s opener, was replaced by desperation and panic.

Cross after cross was lumped into the Celtic box, only to be headed to safety every time.

The scenes at full time a reminder of what was at stake. Rangers players falling to the ground in despair, and Celtic players dancing with their 700 strong following.

The 2-1 win at Ibrox yesterday has all but wrapped up the title.

Van Bronckhorst of course toed the party line: “This is not over”, but with six games left and six points the difference Celtic are Champions elect, and deep down the Dutchman knows it.

Postecoglou’s side haven’t lost a league game in 25 matches, winning the last five in a row. Four more wins brings the trophy back to Parkhead (and that of course includes the final derby game at Celtic Park after the split).

When the scriptures write about the 2021/22 season – it’ll undoubtedly be the tale of two managers.

Ange Postecoglou took over a Celtic side in free-fall. Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over the Champions.

The Aussie constructed a squad over two transfer windows that now look a juggernaut on its way to the title. The dutchman has managed to turn a six point lead in the title race into a six point deficit.

Most will find it hard to put into words the job Postecoglou has done at Celtic. Sunday showed the strength in depth of the squad with the likes of Abada, O’Riley, Turnbull, Bitton and Ralston all coming off the bench.

In Ange Postecoglou Celtic have found a leader. A leader the players and supporters are ready to run through brick walls for. Conversely, Giovanni van Bronckhorst is now having to fend off questions about the direction he’s taking the team.

It is quite extraordinary the difference between a Rangers team in Europe, and the one domestically.

The fast-paced, pressing, electric side that saw off German giants Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade look unrecognisable to the one who edged past Dundee, Aberdeen and St Johnstone. Not to mention being beaten by their rivals back to back.

There can be no question Rangers Europa League adventure this season has been extraordinary – but in Scotland the Premiership is king. Especially with the added prize of an almost guaranteed Champions League group-stage spot.

It seems these Rangers players simply struggle to lift their games when they return to Premiership action after rubbing shoulders with some of the best teams in Europe.

Van Bronckhorst and Rangers have rightly earned plaudits for their European performances, but the reaction at full time on Sunday will have reminded the dutchman just how cutthroat managing in Glasgow can be.

There is still life in this Premiership title race, just. But there is no doubt Rangers title defence is on life support. AngeBall seems an unstoppable force in Scottish football.

The biggest take from Sunday’s Old Firm Derby is that Celtic look ready to wrestle the title back, and Rangers look ready to let them.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code