Arthur Numan: Rangers have nothing to fear against Celtic

Rangers manager Kenny McDowall
Rangers manager Kenny McDowall

Former Rangers defender Arthur Numan insists he never faced Celtic thinking defeat was inevitable - and sees no reason why the current crop should.

The Ibrox men will be re-united with their fierce Glasgow rivals when they meet in the semi-finals of the QTS Scottish League Cup on Sunday.

But the Light Blues side that lines up at Hampden will bear little resemblance to the star-studded side Numan was part of.

The Dutchman signed for Rangers at a time when money was no object and big-name figures like Ronald de Boer, Andrei Kanchelskis and Stafan Klos were all lured to Govan.

It was that period of extravagance, however, which ultimately led Gers onto the path to self-destruction.

Even after dusting themselves down from their liquidation disaster, the club continues to toil on and off the park.

But Numan - who won three league titles during a five-year Ibrox stint - insists Kenny McDowall’s team are not total no-hopers.

He said: “I never went into an Old Firm game, even when Martin O’Neill’s side were on top, believing we couldn’t get a result because the Old Firm is a one-off, a special game.

“We were also in the position where we were dominating for a spell but then Celtic beat us.

“It is always hard to predict and that makes the Old Firm always exciting.

“For most of the players it will be the first time they have played against Celtic. It will be a fantastic experience.

“But they will have to believe in themselves.

“The pressure is all on Celtic because everybody expects them to beat this Rangers team.

“But we saw in England last weekend. All these top teams losing against second and third division teams in the FA Cup.

“The Rangers players have to think the same. It is Hampden Park, 50,000 people - a fantastic opportunity.

“They need to be motivated 110 per cent, go out and give everything for the jersey. If they do that then hopefully they can compete with Celtic.”

Former PSV Eindhoven defender Numan was back at Ibrox last week to pay tribute to his compatriot Fernando Ricksen as the former Gers skipper battles Motor Neurone Disease.

A charity game in his honour drew a crowd of over 41,000 fans as cash was raised for Ricksen, his family and several charities.

Such a large crowd at the stadium is a rare occurrence these days as the Gers faithful - furious with how their club is being run - continue to vote with their feet.

And Numan admits watching Rangers stumble from one crisis to another has been painful.

“It hurts to see the club where it is now,” said the 45-cap former Holland international. “I only remember the good times.

“I played here for five years. We had a good team, a good squad of players. We could compete with the big teams in Europe.

“It is quite sad to see where it is at the moment.

“No-one seems to know what is happening at the top level or who is in charge. The future looks very doubtful.

“I even get questions back in Holland from the press, asking what is going on. Even I don’t know. Every time I ask people in Scotland it is a different story, so I can understand the supporters who are not backing the board.

“They have had enough and don’t show their face at Ibrox any more.

“I get a lot of text messages and emails from fans and they say they are doing it for the right intention, because they want the club back to where it was 10 years ago.

“I would never have expected anything like this to happen in a million years. One of the reasons I came here was because every week there would be a full house of 50,000 with a phenomenal atmosphere for the Celtic games or on big European nights.”