Strachan Keeps Cool Ahead Of Title Finale

CelticStrachan_468x559Celtic manager Gordon Strachan will deliver one of the easiest team talks of his career when the Scottish Premier League title race reaches a nail-biting conclusion on Sunday.

Scotland is gripped by a thrilling end to the domestic season and for the second season in a row the title race has come down to the final day of the campaign.

The Hoops, who are chasing a fourth consecutive SPL title, are two points behind and must beat Hearts at home and hope Rangers drop points against Dundee United at Tannadice, where they haven’t won since April 2006.

Celtic took an eight-point lead over at the top of the SPL after a 2-2 draw with Dundee United on January 3, but they failed to take advantage and Rangers clawed their way into pole position.

Now Rangers are on the verge on ending Celtic’s dominance of the league and claiming a first title since 2005.

But Strachan is keeping his cool despite the enormity of the task and reckons his players will need little motivation prior to kick-off.

He said: “We’re looking to win the game and have got to hope someone else can do us a favour.

“We have not done enough to get ahead but we have one last chance to rectify that on Sunday. If we give it our best shot and are successful then great, but if not we can say we’ve had a bash at it.

“You just have to concentrate on your own game but you know what’s going on, or at least have an idea, from what’s going on in the crowd.

“I won’t have to say too much to the players, they know the importance of the occasion. Playing is the easy part on these occasions. It’s hardest for the supporters, they will be going through every emotion.”

Strachan and the Celtic fans have shared an uneasy, perhaps strained, relationship in his four years at the club.

But while he has never been loved by sections of the support, the lack of affection isn’t reciprocated by the Parkhead manager.

He said: “I’m not sycophantic or someone who talks about the fans left, right and centre and kisses badges or kisses the scarf.

“What I will say is that in the four years I have been here, we couldn’t have asked for the fans to do any more.

“Our fans are special fans and have given us incredible backing when we need it. I can’t sit here and ask for any more, because they have done more than enough.”

But the Celtic faithful have never had any problem showing their support to Shansuke Nakamura. On Sunday it will be their chance to say goodbye to the popular playmaker as he is expected to quit Scotland for first club Yokohama Marinos at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old Japanese international says he will play through the pain of a groin injury to make his Parkhead swansong.

He added: “I still have a lot of pain in my groin and I will have to take tablets all week to make sure that I can play for as long as possible.

“I’m desperate to play in the game because it is such a huge match for Celtic.”

Rangers are boosted by the Scottish FA’s decision to downgrade Madjid Bougherra’s red card against Aberdeen to a yellow, making the Algeria defender available for Sunday’s clash.

Ibrox boss Walter Smith also hinted Barry Ferguson could make his first start since being fined, suspended and stripped of the club captaincy for his behaviour on international duty with Scotland.

“Any player who has experience of winning championships – and we don’t have that many – would help,” Smith said. “He is fit enough to start the game. You will have to wait and see.”

Soccerway

~ by footballdirecta on May 24, 2009.

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