Rangers legend Ian Durrant admits he is expecting fireworks in the eagerly-anticipated first Old Firm game of the season after watching the verbal ‘bitchiness’ kick off between volatile pair Joey Barton and Scott Brown.
The combative midfielders have been at each other’s throats since Rangers recruit Barton made the summer switch from Burnley and claimed that the Scotland and Celtic captain is ‘nowhere near his level’.
Brown responded by saying he would get on with the 33-year-old, with Barton ‘being a Celtic fan’.
The fierce Glasgow rivals will do battle in the top-flight for the first time in four years on September 10 at Parkhead and former Rangers midfielder and coach Durrant reckons there is no chance the match will past without incident.
He said: “I think Joey likes to do that but it’s what happens on the pitch.
“It’s no use doing your talking just now, your talking has to be done on the pitch. We’ll see what happens on the tenth of September.
“I’m sure there will be fireworks because everyone knows what Scott Brown can do, so we’ll see if Joey can do it. I’m looking forward to it.
“The Old Firm has always been littered with gallus players, You go back to Jim Baxter, you’ve got Kenny Dalglish, Henrik Larsson, Brian Laudrup.
“I think it will be one to savour and one you wish you could play in.
“It will be an electric atmosphere and there’s already the bitchiness that’s started.
“Here we are 10,11 weeks before the Old Firm game, talking about it already. Can you imagine what it will be like in the week before it? It will be chaos.
“Both teams will look to bring it on. I know there’s important games before that but to have an Old Firm game so early in the season, it’s one to look forward to.”
Durrant reckons Barton, in-particular, will bring colour to Scottish football both on and off the park during his time with Rangers.
He added: “I think Joey Barton will certainly bring entertainment but he will bring some other stuff as well.
“He’s quite popular on Twitter. But hopefully people are talking about him for the right reasons.
“You have seen his level of ability throughout his career. He has excellent credentials.
“I might like to have shared a dressing room with him. But we had a few characters so it would be interesting to see if he fitted in.”
Despite Barton and fellow new signing Niko Kranjcar being seasoned English top-flight players, Durrant, who was not kept on by Mark Warburton last summer, believes the pair will be taken aback by the ferocity of the Old Firm rivalry.
He added: “It will blow Barton and Krancjar away. You can talk about it and describe it but it’s not until you play in it.
“It’s an intimidating arena but a fantastic place to play. It’s frightening when you walk out, the hairs on the back of your neck are standing up.
“When you come out that tunnel, it’s like a chorus and you’re going out to the lions den at Celtic Park.
“It’s an atmosphere you can relish, if you can handle an Old Firm game you can handle playing anywhere.”
Old Firm restored as a global footballing brand
Former Rangers midfielder Ian Durrant insists the Old Firm are back to being a global footballing brand following the Ibrox club’s disastrous plunge into liquidation.
The 49-year-old is delighted that his former employers have once again shown they have the ability to attract marquee signings after recruiting midfielder Joey Barton from Burnley and experienced one-time Tottenham playmaker Niko Kranjcar.
Across Glasgow, Celtic made the high-profile appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager and have snapped-up exciting French youngster Moussa Dembele from Fulham.
All eyes will be on the first Old Firm derby of the season on September 10 and Durrant insists Rangers’ return to the top-fight following four years in the lower leagues has brought a much-needed injection of excitement to the Scottish game.
Durrant, who yesterday helped promote East Stirling’s new shirt sponsorship deal with league sponsor’s Ladbrokes, said: “I think the Scottish game took a bit of a doing with Rangers going down and everybody thinking it was a one-horse race, and there was less competition.
“The Rangers brand and the Celtic brand is back to where it belongs and you can see the coverage we’re going to get next year in terms of the Old Firm game.
“It’s back to the old days with marquee signings. When you are signing players from the English Premiership it’s a feather in your cap.
“Celtic have still to play their cards in terms of signings so it will be interesting.
“Barton and Kranjcar are quality players and Josh Windass looks to have settled in very well.
“It has been shown that if everything is right and there is the right infrastructure and the right competition then we can still attract players like that.”