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Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 15:49 UK

Old Firm derby will lack usual bite - Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith
Walter Smith is aware Celtic will be determined to beat the league champions

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes Tuesday's Old Firm derby will lack its usual intensity because his side have already been crowned league champions.

Smith's men hold an 11-point lead over Celtic going into Tuesday's clash, having secured a second straight Scottish Premier League title.

"I don't think you get the same edge in the game," Smith said.

"But, being an Old Firm derby, it remains a game where you want to go and do your best in."

Rangers have yet to suffer an Old Firm defeat this season and they travel to Celtic Park looking to preserve that record.

"We've only lost two games this season, which is a terrific achievement; for any club to go through a league campaign and only lose two matches," said Smith, whose side beat Dundee United 2-1 at the weekend.

Celtic are at home and we know they'll be keen to win because Rangers have been crowned champions

Rangers manager Walter Smith

"We want to keep that intact and I think we showed on Saturday that that's what we want to do.

"We had an extremely good attitude there and I think that will carry on to the game tomorrow night.

"But Celtic have a home game and they will obviously want to finish the season at home well. We're aware of that factor."

Smith said the famous derby loses some of its bite when the destination of the title has already been decided.

"Once, when I came back, Celtic had already won the championship. And we beat them 1-0 at Celtic Park," said the Rangers boss.

"A few seasons earlier, when Celtic were playing at Hampden, Rangers had already won the championship and we lost 3-0, going on five or six.

"So the edge does come off the game a wee bit. It's human nature that that happens.

"But I hope we retain a competitive edge in ours and if we do that then we'll be happy."

Smith said that, while there was no pressure on Rangers to secure victory in terms of the SPL title race, pride would be a factor.

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"The players have taken a great deal of pride in winning the championship this season and the manner in which they have done," he added.

"I think that will keep them going. I certainly hope so."

Smith said the presence of Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon in the dugout for Tuesday's game would not bring some added spice to the derby.

The Rangers boss said Lennon had changed the way Celtic play since he succeeded Tony Mowbray.

"I don't know just how much at the present moment, but I think he has changed the way they play," he said.

Rangers travel to Celtic Park without the injured Madjid Bougherra, who is sidelined with a calf strain, and the suspended Sasa Papac.

"Celtic are at home and we know they'll be keen to win because Rangers have been crowned champions; they won't like that," Smith said.

"I wouldn't expect them to like it and it's something Rangers don't like if Celtic win it.

"But you're looking at a game between the two best teams in the country and the games this season have always been close enough.

"I don't see this one being that much different."



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see also
Celtic 2-1 Rangers
04 May 10 |  Scottish Premier
Rangers pair shrug off exit talk
03 May 10 |  Rangers
Davis crowned player of the year
02 May 10 |  Rangers
Rangers suffer Wilson injury blow
22 Apr 10 |  Rangers


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