I’ve managed in a number of derbies. They’re all different in their way, but in Glasgow it’s something else. There is something special about Celtic-Rangers. The intensity, the rivalry. It is a city divided between green and blue.
Only one team can be doing well, and you’ve got to make sure it’s you.
My first Old Firm game was the first meeting of Celtic and Rangers at Parkhead for four years. Joey Barton had joined Rangers, so he added another interesting dynamic to an already huge game. But we were desperate to win for the supporters, and to keep that early-season momentum going.
To win, and to win 5-1, was obviously very special. It was an important game, absolutely massive, and put us on a great high.
“If we’re going to be the team we want to be, this can’t happen again. We were going to have to learn”
If, on that Saturday evening, you had asked us to name the last place on earth we would want to have to play on the Tuesday, we would have said the Nou Camp in Barcelona.
Messi. Suarez. Neymar. And the pitch is huge.
The energy that had been taken out of us on the Saturday had a huge impact on the Tuesday night. And, you know, I think I could sense there was a little bit of fear in the team, perhaps naturally, because of the players they were up against.
That would change as the season went on.
We didn’t start the game well, that was for sure. Messi scored early, but we fought back well and missed a penalty that would have drawn us level. They got the second before half-time, but then fatigue set in after the break and it ended up 7-0.
You come off after seven, and it’s not nice. We spoke about it afterwards, though, in the changing room. If we’re going to be the team we want to be, this can’t happen again. We were going to have to learn.