New Firm but old foes: Celtic and Rangers get ready to rumble in cup clash
'My opinion is that they (Rangers) are a new club' says Boyd
Former Celtic skipper Tom Boyd knows a thing or two about Glasgow derbies- and believes that Sunday's League Cup semi-final will be something very different.
Boyd's first ever taste of an Old Firm clash was in 1992 when goals from Charlie Nicholas and Gerry Creaney gave Liam Brady's side a comfortable 2-0 win at Ibrox.
That success was fleeting with Celtic having to wait until 1998 to lift the title- stopping Rangers from winning a tenth consecutive title with Walter Smith able to match English sides in the transfer market and able to call upon talents like Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup.
The timeline for the fixture came to a halt in 2012 when the financial madness of Rangers sent the club into liquidation with a consortium led by Charles Green gaining SFA membership and starting life in the bottom tier of the game.
Scottish football without the titanic and often brutal Old Firm clashes was something that many couldn't imagine or accept but on Sunday both sets of supporters will be out in force at Hampden with a curious nation holding it's breath in anticipation of hostilities.
After watching Rangers rack up silverware through unsustainable overdrafts and illegal tax schemes the demise of the club was greeted with joy from most Celtic fans.
While a number of Hoops supporters admit to missing the intensity of the derby match those that suffered through the nineties see karma every day as their former rivals struggle from scandal to crisis loan with little prospect of a return to the high living days.
Boyd knows the sensitivities of the both clubs well but steers clear of the misty eyed view that Sunday's battle is a continuation of the landmark fixtures that he was involved in for over a decade.
"I don't know what most people think but my opinion is that they are a new club," he stated about in answer to the status of the club from Ibrox. "A lot of people believe it's a continuation of the game, I'd imagine that the atmosphere will be very much the same as previously but you can't compare the teams to the way that it was. The new Rangers are a Championship team, previously they had internationalists so the game isn't going to be the same.
"A lot of former players miss the actual match, that fixture was where players were judged and that's something that is no longer there because of the situation with the new Rangers and the problems they find themselves in.
"There are some Celtic supporters who go along with the continuation opinion, they want that game back, it's something that they miss. In Scottish football they feel that Celtic need a challenge, that fixture provided it but I can't see the same with this match on Sunday."
Turning to matters on the park Celtic arrive at Hampden on the back of three wins over Hamilton, Motherwell and Ross County over a week following a training camp in Gran Canaria. Rangers last match was on January 10 when they won on the plastic pitch at Alloa with only a half hour kickabout with Hearts in the snow since then. Everything points towards a Celtic win with Boyd confident that if his old club play close to form they will be too strong for the Ibrox side.
Boyd added: "The Ross County game on Saturday was a little bit sticky but Celtic's recent form has been good in stages with some fantastic football played.
"The passing game that Celtic use could be too much for Rangers but my concern at the moment is that the conversion rate of chances isn't what it should be and that's not just to do with strikers. Hopefully that will change on Sunday.
"At Ross County I think that there was various things involved in the performance, a trip to Dingwall after a midweek match on a bumpy pitch in January isn't ideal.
"Having Anthony Stokes back in the side will be important, last week against Motherwell he showed his value to the side with two great crosses for the opening goals. I'm sure he'll be looking forward to being involved in this match."