Caixinha desperate to loosen Celtic’s iron grip


Glasgow (AFP) – Pedro Caixinha says he would resign as Rangers manager if he didn’t believe his side could defeat fierce city rivals and champions Celtic on Saturday in their Premiership clash.

The sides will clash for the sixth time this season when they meet at Ibrox with Rangers having failed to win — losing four and drawing the other.

Celtic ended the blue side of Glasgow’s hopes of finishing the season with a trophy and kept their own dreams of completing a domestic treble on course when they defeated Caixinha’s side 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final last Sunday.

The scoreline didn’t reflect the one-sided nature of the contest with the Portuguese manager admitting the manner of the defeat left him ashamed.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are a massive 33 points ahead of Rangers in the Scottish Premiership and are unbeaten in 41 domestic fixtures this season.

However, the former Santos Laguna manager says he is not giving much thought to their previous encounters this season and vowed to close the gap and overtake their Old Firm foes.

“That belongs to the past. The present and the future is Saturday’s game,” Caixinha said.

“If I don’t believe that I can do these things I’m not going to show up. I would just resign and go home.

“I’m assessing the gulf between the clubs and I’m working on a daily basis. It exists and I cannot deny it

“But we are working to reduce it and we are going to do it.

“This is not a question of time. This is a question of work, belief and commitment.”

Caixinha, who was brought in to replace Englishman Mark Warburton, has also demanded his players match the passion shown by the  supporters.

“We expect to play in a sold-out Ibrox stadium that all the time delivers to us passion, and we just need to give the same back. That’s what we expect,” he said.

“We analysed the game, we know what we need to do and what we didn’t do so we just need to put commitment and passion on the pitch.

“I’m always confident. We have our setback and we have another match to put passion on the pitch in order to be the real players and manager defending the colours of this club.”

Celtic’s chances have been boosted by the availability of their skipper Scott Brown for the clash after his red card against Ross County was reduced to a caution following a meeting of the SFA Disciplinary Tribunal on Thursday.

Rodgers has yet to taste defeat in an Old Firm fixture and his side head to Ibrox with confidence high.

“It’s one of the world’s great derby games,” Rodgers said.

“This is the last one and we’re planning to win it. That’s how we go into every game we play and obviously we’ll respect the opponent.”

Fixtures (1400GMT unless otherwise stated)

Saturday

Rangers v Celtic (1100), Aberdeen v St Johnstone, Hamilton v Kilmarnock, Hearts v Partick Thistle, Motherwell v Dundee

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