BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MALAURY MARTIN last night tipped his hat to “fantastic” champions-elect Celtic with a suitably French flourish.
However, the former Monaco star is adamant the Jambos can become the first side to inflict a domestic defeat on the Hoops if they replicate their dazzling display against Rangers.
The capital club turned in their most impressive display under Ian Cathro when they battered Mark Warburton’s dismal Gers side 4-1 in February, with goals from Krystian Nowak, Don Cowie and a Jamie Walker brace capping a display of pace, power and attacking intent.
While Celtic pose an altogether tougher challenge – evidenced by the 33-point gap between the Glasgow rivals – Martin believes that must be the benchmark as they seek to stun Brendan Rodgers’ rampant visitors.
“What can I say about Celtic being unbeaten? It is fantastic . . . chapeau,” smiled Martin.
“But we are not there to admire them and say ‘oh, you are so good, haven’t you had a fantastic season’. We are there to beat them.
“Why can’t we be the first team to beat them? Why not? That is what we work towards. Everyone knows, everyone can see, how good they are. But this is one game and for us this is like a Cup final. We believe we can do something special.
“The longer that run goes on, the more special it will be for one team to end that unbeaten run.
“Rangers and Celtic are two different games, with different challenges – but it is a good example of the qualities we have, and have to repeat that performance.
“It is normal that the fans want good results and they saw a good game against Rangers here. That is the performance we need to show more of. It is not always easy to be at that level – but that is our aim. We are ambitious.”
The Bhoys arrive in Gorgie on Sunday knowing a win will see them claim their sixth Premiership title in a row, providing Aberdeen have not already handed them the crown by failing to beat Dundee this evening.
However, Martin is adamant he could not care less about the stakes for Celtic, and has emphasised the need for the Jambos to show “character” and aggression against their visitors – attributes that they have been accused of lacking in recent weeks.
“Honestly, it is not disrespectful for me to say I don’t care what Celtic are coming here for,” he continued.
“It is always a big game to play Celtic or Rangers, and we want to win the game and show we can make it difficult for them to come here.
“We want to show character and show the fans how proud we are to defend our home, our castle, and not let Celtic come and take the trophy. It is not easy but we want to put them under pressure, close down the space.”
With five wins in 17 matches in charge, an eye-catching victory over Celtic would also be a welcome fillip for Cathro and his hastily reassembled squad. Nevertheless, Martin is adamant any criticism is water of a duck’s back to him.
“When you win it is fantastic and when you play badly, you must take the responsibility for that. That is the case and we must look forward, work hard and fight. It is good to play with that pressure, it makes the game more fun for the players.”