Rangers title momentum 'in the past' claims Celtic hero as he pinpoints old club's Ibrox advantage

The Hoops icon is backing his old club to emerge with three points at the home of their bitter rivals
Celtic's Alan Thompson celebrates after scoring the winner against Rangers late in the game with Stanislav VargaCeltic's Alan Thompson celebrates after scoring the winner against Rangers late in the game with Stanislav Varga
Celtic's Alan Thompson celebrates after scoring the winner against Rangers late in the game with Stanislav Varga

Alan Thompson has declared Rangers' title momentum is "in the past" and reckons Celtic possess greater quality and experience that will help them secure a pivotal Old Firm victory at Ibrox.

Brendan Rodgers' side, who have a slender one point lead over their bitter Glasgow rivals, head across the city on Sunday afternoon as they look to solidify their position at the top of the Scottish Premiership table. A win for the Hoops would take them four points clear with one derby fixture still to come after the split, but Rangers have a game in hand to play.

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Thompson confessed that Philippe Clement's men have had the impetus in the title race in recent weeks, but believes that won't make any difference when the two sides face off in Govan this weekend. He insists Celtic's big-game players such as Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Callum McGregor can play a massive part in driving their teammates on to a vital win.


Speaking to PLZ Soccer, Thompson said: "It's essential that you have people in the dressing room who can speak to the younger players and the more inexperienced players, and just give them an insight into what it is going to be about.

"Players who have walked the walk. That is people like (Callum) McGregor, Joe Hart, (Cameron) Carter-Vickers, (Matt) O'Riley and Kyogo. These players have done it, they know what it's all about and hopefully they will rub off on the younger members of the squad.

"I know a few weeks ago people were saying the momentum was with Rangers, but it is all in the past. You can't influence what has gone on in the past, they can only focus on what is ahead of them now and that goes for both sets of teams.

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"They have games coming up and it's just something they are going to have to cope with mentally. I would like to think Celtic (will win) but there is nothing between them at the minute, and the I think the league table tells you that. Not much points difference, goal difference is very similar - it is just down to who performs on the day and who copes with the occasion on the day.

"I think Celtic have more quality and depth, in all honesty but it just depends on the day who takes their chances. Goalkeepers are going to have to make saves, but it's so tight and really difficult to call. I'm sure it (title race) will go right down to the last game of the season."

Thompson, a former assistant to Neil Lennon at Parkhead, feels the absence of away supporters has taken "a bit of spice" away from the fixture for onlookers watching from further afield. He wants to eventually see a return to full allocations for both teams.

He continued: "I think it's a great shame. It really added to the occasion back when I was playing. You got off the coach at Ibrox and were getting absolute pelters from the fans. I loved that side of it, but you knew that you'd have the backing of the Celtic fans once you got over that white line.

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"I think it takes a bit of spice away from the occasion and I'd love to think in the future that they could get away fans back in to the grounds in full because it adds so much fireworks to the game."

Reflecting on his favourite Glasgow derby memories during his seven-year spell as a Hoops player between 2000 and 2007, Thompson highlighted his weaving run and low strike at Ibrox in front of a packed Celtic end in September 2001 as one goal that stands out.

"Yes, I had more good days than I did bad days (against Rangers)," Thompson responded when asked about his impressive Old Firm record. "I had a couple of bad days at Ibrox myself by picking up a few red cards, but I think I've got more good memories than bad ones.

"I scored a penalty at the Rangers end, which was extremely tough taking one in front of people paying for your blood that's for sure and I also scored at the Celtic end when I cut in from the left and bent one past Stefan Klos with my right foot, so that would probably be my favourite goal.

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