Neil Lennon Reveals His Prediction For The Old Firm
The next edition of the Old Firm is fast approaching as Celtic and Rangers continue their historic rivalry at Ibrox this Monday.
There are few men with more experience in the Old Firm than Neil Lennon. We started off by asking the former Celtic boss and player for his prediction for the big game.
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What is your prediction for this Old Firm?
I think Celtic will win 2-1. Morelos will score for Rangers with Kyogo and O’Riley scoring
Celtic handle the opposition really well and the physicality of the game too. They also score goals in bunches and handle the derbies really well. Ange has an excellent record in the Old Firm as well.
Going into the game on the back of a 4-0 win will also give Celtic plenty of confidence. Celtic will look to play at a high intensity, and it is up to Michael Beale to try and stop this.
What are your Old Firm Highlights as both a player and a manager?
As a player, it was when we went to Ibrox and won 3-0. We’d won the league, the league cup and were aiming for a treble. It was the last Old Firm of the season and we were already 15 points clear, but it was special.
Henrik Larsson scored his 50th goal of the season as well. We were such a strong team with so much quality. It was also my first derby at Ibrox and I really enjoyed it.
I also enjoyed it when Chris Sutton scored a chip in the last minute during 2003/04. We beat Rangers in every game that season in both the league and the cup, and Sutton scored an amazing chip in the last minute. That was a strong season for us.
As a manager, it was in that cup game in 2011.We were one down at half-time and down to 10 men. We didn’t win the game, but we drew 2-2 and Scott Brown scored a brilliant goal. What we did with 10 men that day was unbelievable.
It’s always even more special when you’re away from home and down to ten men. We dominated possession for long periods of the game, and we fully deserved to pick up the draw in that game. It was special.
How do you think the physicality of the Old Firm is now compared to before?
With VAR, there are probably less controversial decisions. The way the game has progressed over the last few years though, the level of physicality and the style of play is different now. This will probably suit Celtic more due to the faster and more skillful players that they have.
Football always evolves, and while there is rightly more protection for players, tackling in Old Firm Derbies can be considered an art and should not be taken away. As long as the tackles are clean, they are fine.
Anything that is over aggressive should be punished depending on the intent on the tackle. So, while there are some positive rules there in the interest of player welfare, the physicality of games should not be taken away.
What kind of tempo do you think this Old Firm will be played at?
I think the game will be at a high tempo, and recently there has been some decent discipline. Players can definitely get over emotional and have disagreements with the referee and from a Rangers point of view, they will have to control themselves.
They have to keep eleven men on the pitch or else they will end up in big trouble.
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