Walter Smith: Some Celtic players have 'disrespected' Rangers

Walter Smith managed Rangers from 1991-98 and 2007-11
Walter Smith managed Rangers from 1991-98 and 2007-11
League Cup semi-final: Celtic v Rangers
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Sunday, 1 February Kick-off: 13:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website

Ex-Rangers manager Walter Smith feels at least one Celtic player has disrespected his former employers ahead of their League Cup semi-final.

The Glasgow rivals meet for the first time in three years on Sunday.

"You've got to have an overall respect for the teams you play against," Smith, 66, told BBC Scotland.

"Rangers will have a respect for Celtic. I'm not so sure Celtic are showing the same respect, with some of the comments their players are making."

Earlier this month, Celtic's on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti said he "fancied three goals" against Rangers at Hampden.

"One of them's talking about scoring a hat-trick," added Smith, who managed Rangers to 10 league titles over two spells at Ibrox.

"A few years ago the games would have been much tighter in terms of how everybody's perception of how the game is going to be. But I don't think you can turn round and disrespect your opponents by saying you're going to score three.

John Guidetti has not scored for Celtic since November
John Guidetti has not scored for Celtic since November

"If that is an overall feeling that Celtic have got, then it gives Rangers probably a better opportunity than maybe they should have."

Ronny Deila's Celtic lead the Scottish Premiership by three points, while Rangers trail Hearts by 13 points in the Scottish Championship.

Sunday's Old Firm meeting will be the first since Celtic's 3-0 win in April 2012.

Rangers caretaker-manager Kenny McDowall believes the return of the Glasgow derby is something "Scottish football needs", and Smith agrees.

"Scottish football, whether people like Rangers or not, have missed Rangers in the Premier Division," said Smith.

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Interview - Kenny McDowall

"The game in Scotland has lost a lot of money because of the decision to put Rangers down into the Third Division.

"I don't think anyone could ever have imagined that Rangers could be out of the Premier Division for three years. It's a strange circumstance they find themselves in.

"Obviously, with no Old Firm games during that period of time, this one will be highlighted more than most. It brings in itself an extra edge to the game."

Rangers' form in the second tier of Scottish football has been inconsistent, with problems at boardroom level a regular distraction.

Although Smith regards Celtic as "overwhelming favourites" for the semi-final, he knows Rangers could still pull off a shock win.

The former Scotland boss cited victories over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock as proof Rangers can reach the final.

"Of course they can," he said.

"Their results this season, some have been indifferent, but in the three cup games against Premier Division teams, they've won these games.

"I don't think Celtic are as good now as they were a couple of seasons ago."

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