Barry Ferguson in X-rated Rangers demand as he urges club to sicken Celtic

Barry Ferguson is hoping the Rangers team have been hearing criticism of them - so they can ram it back down people's throats with a big result against Celtic.

There is doubt around whether the Light Blues can go to Parkhead and get anything from the derby tomorrow and keep themselves in the title race, with a defeat spelling the end of their hopes even if not mathematically so yet. Gers haven't registered a win in the fixture this season and it's four years since they've emerged victorious from the home of their rivals.

The former Ibrox captain has been there and done it and knows all about being part of the Glasgow goldfish bowl and playing through all the pressures that comes with it. And if he was in the current dressing room, he'd be making sure all the negative analysis of the team was fully known and using it as motivation.

Speaking in the Daily Record, he said: "They'll have heard what everyone is saying about them. Of course they will. That they’re simply not strong enough to go to Parkhead and win.

"That the last time they did it was four years ago, when a global pandemic meant there were no Celtic fans inside the stadium. That there’s a mental block when it comes to Old Firm derbies because they’ve lost so many of them.

"If I’ve heard it all being said over these last few days so there’s no way the same stuff hasn’t filtered through into the dressing room at Auchenhowie. And if I was in there I would personally be making sure of it.

"Because I couldn’t think of a better way to get the message through of what’s about to be required. ‘Do you realise what they think of us? They think we’re weak. They think we don’t have the balls for it. Well I’ve had enough of listening to this s***. Let’s get out there and ram some words down some throats!’"

In terms of an actual team selection, Fergie reckons he knows how Philippe Clement will go - and it might be surprising to some. He could see them going for solidity in midfield with Dujon Sterling and then using Todd Cantwell and Tom Lawrence as the two playing off Cyriel Dessers.

He added: "The manager also has some big decisions to make when it comes to selecting his starting XI because there’s no room for error there too. I may be totally wrong but I have an idea of how he might go. Jack Butland in goal, a back four of James Tavernier, Leon Balogun, John Souttar and Ridvan Yilmaz. A midfield of John Lundstram, Mohamed Diomande and Dujon Sterling.

"And a front three of Tom Lawrence, Cyriel Dessers and Todd Cantwell. Yes, people will say there’s no obvious width and that will have to come from the full-backs pushing forward at the right times.

"But, most importantly of all, Rangers have to stiffen up the midfield. With Sterling in there they can do that. It’s an athletic three who can all get about the pitch.

"Ahead of them, obviously I wouldn’t expect Cantwell or Lawrence to hug the touchlines but, if Rangers are hitting on the counter attack, I believe the pair of them have the quality to be difference makers in the final third. They can also add to the numbers in midfield out of possession and help to close down gaps when Celtic’s full-backs move inside.

"And I’d have Diomande pushing on to McGregor and making sure he’s not given the time and space to get his head up and play his own game. Yes, it won’t work every time. There will be moments when McGregor gives him the slip. And that’s when Lundstram and Sterling have a responsibility to communicate properly and get tight to Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley. It’s their job to sicken them in that area of the pitch.

"But when Rangers do get on the ball, that midfield is also more than capable of playing football and picking passes to get Cantwell and Lawrence into dangerous areas where they can do some damage.

"Most of all, though, these players have to realise this is their last chance to get their hands on the title. It’s pretty much win-or-bust and that’s the way I liked it when I was involved in matches like this.

"Approach this game like it’s the last one you’ll ever play. Give it every last ounce, grab all three points like your life depends on it. And then let’s enjoy hearing what all the doubters are saying about you next week."