Michael Beale has challenged Rangers' players to prove they can turn on the style at Celtic Park in next week’s Old Firm derby.
The Ibrox gaffer watched his side rack up another three Premiership points over Dundee United yesterday, thanks to a Malik Tillman double. In Beale’s 20 games in charge, Gers have won 18 but drawn with Celtic in the league and lost to their bitter rivals in the Viaplay Cup Final.
Now, he wants them to impose their game on Ange Postecoglou’s side at Parkhead. Ahead of the clash with Celtic, Beale said: “We need to make a statement every week here. Every time we play, there are a lot of questions. That’s the life of a big club. I get it, it’s a big game. It’s nothing more than three points right now - but we need to prove something to ourselves, for sure.
“It’s a fantastic derby and the eyes of the world will be on it. We have a good week to prepare. I think we need to prove we can play our fluid football in that game. I haven’t seen that as much as I’ve wanted to against Celtic, especially in the last game (cup final). The game at Ibrox was a bit different but we need to be decisive in both boxes next week. In big games, that’s what it comes down to.”
Rangers had to break down Dundee United’s defensive line at Ibrox, with on-loan Tillman the difference-maker. But Beale says his team will have more room to strut their stuff at Parkhead.
He said: “Next week will be a completely different game. Hopefully we’ll have more spaces to play in. We’ll have a different selection because we’ll pick what we think is right for that. But our form in the league has set us up for this game. It’s a big challenge but we’re looking forward to it. It was important to win today and get a clean sheet.”
Tillman was Rangers’ star man yesterday in keeper Allan McGregor’s landmark 500th game for the club.
The 20-year-old American is due to return to Bayern Munich in the summer but Gers have an exclusive option to buy if the Bundesliga giants are willing to let him go. Beale has revealed talks are on-going between sporting director Ross Wilson and the Germans.
But the Ibrox gaffer admits he’s desperate to land £5 million rated Tillman on a permanent deal - because he sees him as a huge part of Rangers’ future.
He said: “There is an option there we can take but the player has a say too and so does the club he’s at. A lot of things are agreed but obviously there has been a change of manager there as well.
“I’m not part of the negotiations but I’m fully up to speed with it. There were more talks over the international break as well. Me and Malik have a fantastic relationship and I think he really enjoys playing here.
“I think you can see the way he’s grown in the time he’s been here. Am I getting the feeling from Malik that he wants to be here next season? Yeah.
“I’ve never felt anything different. He’s locked into the staff and invested in this team. We asked him to play a different position today but he’s come away with two goals. So he’s shown he can do a variety of jobs.
“At such a young age, I think Malik has a high ceiling. Everything is positive around the boy at the moment. I think Malik can play at a really high level
“Playing at a big club, there’s a demand every week to impact games. But more often than not Malik has done that.”