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Celtic stars disrespect Rangers, says former boss Smith

By Andy Newport

Walter Smith has cranked up the heat on this weekend's eagerly awaited Old Firm showdown by demanding Celtic players show Rangers more respect.

The popular former Rangers boss has taken aim at the Hoops as anticipation builds towards the first showdown between the Glasgow giants since Celtic's 3-0 win in April, 2012.

Highly respected Smith (right) has accused at least one Celtic player of disrespecting his former employers ahead of their League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday (1.30pm)

"You've got to have an overall respect for the teams you play against," Smith said.

"Rangers will have a respect for Celtic. I'm not so sure Celtic are showing the same respect, with some of the comments their players are making."

Celtic's on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti said he "fancied three goals" against the Gers.

"One of them is talking about scoring a hat-trick," added Smith, who managed Rangers to 10 league titles over two spells at Ibrox.

"I don't think you can turn round and disrespect your opponents by saying you're going to score three."

“If that is an overall feeling that Celtic have got, then it gives Rangers probably a better opportunity than maybe they should have.”

Celtic lead the Scottish Premiership by three points, while Rangers trail Hearts by 13 points in the Scottish Championship.

Meanwhile, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch says his side “respect” Celtic — but they do not fear what the Hoops will do to them on Sunday. He said: “There is no fear. All sorts of form goes out the window in Old Firm games so I don’t think there is any sort of fear at all. There’s respect but there’s never really any fear.”

McCulloch rejected the suggestion that beating Ronny Deila’s men would be a bigger feat than reaching the 2008 Uefa Cup final under former boss Smith.

The 36-year-old defender said: “The game is not as big as people are making out, not in my eyes. We’ve beaten Celtic before, so why can’t we go and do it again?

“To beat your nearest rivals means everything. But it’s never easy to win an Old Firm game. Never. These games are special — the biggest in Scotland. You would be lying if you said you didn’t miss them as a player. I would imagine managers don’t miss them.

“But as a player you definitely miss the occasion, the atmosphere, the bragging rights for the fans. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience. I can’t wait for Sunday.”

It was revealed this week that police officers have visited both halves of the Glasgow divide to caution them on the need to keep their behaviour in check come Sunday. A touchline clash between then Gers assistant Ally McCoist and former Celtic boss and Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon during a fiery Old Firm clash back in March 2011 prompted a Government summit on sectarianism and the launch of the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act.

“We will need cool heads,” McCulloch said. “I think it is brilliant that the police came out to give us little pointers on what is right and wrong. All the players are well aware the repercussions if they do something wrong.”

Belfast Telegraph


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