It’s Old Firm week and the Battle Fever is very much on! I haven’t felt this confident going into a Rangers-Celtic game since the Scottish Cup semi-final win on penalties under Mark Warburton.
We have been in good form recently and have been playing some fantastic football. We are the form team in the league at the moment – with five wins from six – which only heightens the expectation and confidence of the fans.
However, if we are to win the game at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon, we will have to go after Celtic and press them high. We simply cannot play in the same fashion as Aberdeen did a few weeks ago and sit off them, if we do we will lose – it’s that simple.
It’s probably the case that we will line up with a 4-2-3-1 and one man’s performance could have a big bearing on how the match goes. That man is Mark Warburton’s signing from Accrington Stanley, Josh Windass.
He will be the man in the middle of the three behind Morelos and it will be a day where I think he will have to grab the bull by the horns and make it the Josh Windass show. He has been excellent since the turn of the year in most of the games. His pace and ability to find the net has got everyone raving about him. He deserves that, of course he does, but if we are to get a result, we will have to see a different side to Windass’s game.
He should sit down and watch a re-run of the game from before the winter break and play close attention to Niko Kranjcar’s performance, particularly in the second half when we were on top. Windass should study how Kranjcar had an impact on the game without having the ball for long periods. All Kranjcar did that day was occupy a space – a space which stopped Celtic and Scott Brown playing. Unfortunately, Niko never had the legs to really hurt them that day.
That’s where Windass can be the man. He has to show the same discipline and understanding of that role as Niko did, but he has the ability to hurt them. His pace will be able to help him break the lines and put the fear into their defence, and his goalscoring form will also give them something to think about.
But this will be the game to judge if Josh Windass is really a true No.10, or if he is best in a front two – like the Aberdeen games before Christmas. He needs to get the performances from those games and the St Johnstone game, and roll them into one to produce the performance of his Rangers career. If he produces the same kind of display he did vs Hibs, we will lose the midfield.
If he produces the performance we know he is capable of, it may well win over many fans. But if he reverts to the aforementioned Hibs display, the same questions about his tactical ability, his application and his ability carry the jersey will remain a pertinent talking point.
It’s a huge 90 minutes for Rangers, but for Josh Windass this is the time for him to stand up and show us that he’s arrived as a Rangers player. If he does that, it will go along way to making sure it’s the Rangers fans who are celebrating after the full-time whistle.