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Comment: Rangers must stop indulging their immature man child Alfredo Morelos

Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos leaves the pitch after being sent off as Celtic captain Scott Brown watches on, greatly amused.
Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos leaves the pitch after being sent off as Celtic captain Scott Brown watches on, greatly amused.

By Julian Taylor

The sun was out in Glasgow yesterday. And it remained out, to drench Celtic Park faithful in both direct and psychological sweat beads.

Laced with jagged provocations and nasty exchanges, you can rely on Celtic and Rangers players - even those you assume should know better - to lose the plot. By normal standards of, at best, strained tolerance, relations between the Old Firm clubs have been particularly poor for some time now and, as matters spun out of hand on the pitch during Celtic's thrilling 2-1 victory, one was reminded of the old summary from Archie MacPherson, Scottish football's owlish grandee, "let's face it, these people hate each other." Decades later, this remains true.

Neil Lennon's audition for the permanent Celtic managers' job will have been strengthened as the Champions edged towards an eighth successive domestic title. How the Northern Irishman must give thanks to James Forrest for one of the game's few slivers of composure, igniting waves of relief in the stands after Rangers had clawed out fresh belief, without Alfredo Morelos, their irredeemable man child.

Steven Gerrard put his face in his hands when the Colombian lashed out at Celtic captain Scott Brown for minor niggling, in a fleeting acknowledgement that all the Ibrox manager's carefully constructed preparations were splintered by the dull thud of an elbow.

Morelos saw red - and Rangers, finally, must see the future and stop indulging him. Attempts in summer to offload a 29-goal player will be made easier in the knowledge that, again, Morelos failed to test Celtic.

Gerrard is probably finished with such immaturity. The Rangers boss now faces tough issues in perhaps the most crucial close season in Ibrox history. Not only is Morelos an exasperation, but 10 red cards is quite a crime count for a squad this term. But Rangers are, in broad terms, playing better and, at their most confident, show stirring drive.

They can rue their ill-fortune here, as they merited a point after Gerrard's interval team talk clearly elicited the desired response.

Celtic's fortitude, meanwhile, is only one explanation for what is now a 13 difference between the teams.

Of course, derby success is to be celebrated, yet Lennon's case will be scrutinised due to Celtics' dip, which contributed to 10-man Rangers' resurgence and a deserved equaliser by Ryan Kent.

The on-loan winger was the Gers best performer and Ibrox chiefs should make attempts to keep him. Nonetheless, Odsonne Edouard was instigator of the day. The Frenchman showed why he is worth £9.5m with a well-taken opening goal and a clever assist for the winner.

Forrest and Edouard epitomise the determination to move forward to a tantalising Parkhead 'Treble Treble'.

Yesterday, at least, was a significant swing for Lennon and, in essence, all he really needs to do is drive home concentrated messages every day between now and the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen on 14 April.

Lennon will always be a folk hero here, but doesn't quite quench thirst for visionary change for many within Celtic. One name to emerge of late is Phillip Cocu. The Dutch legend is available after an ill-fated spell in charge at Fenerbahce, but three Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven is an excellent pedigree.

While Celtic savoured their second home win of the season over Rangers it would be inattentive if the club's board chose not to assess possible alternative coaching options.

Lennon claimed yesterday was a "psychological hurdle" negotiated. True, although important guidance is still necessary from the shards of wild fervour.

Belfast Telegraph


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