Chris Sutton says that the upcoming Old Firm derby game at Ibrox next Sunday is the first “real” clash in years – and that it’s all down to Rangers manager Graeme Murty.

He claims that Brendan Rodgers’ men haven’t had to worry about the rivals for a long time but that they can’t afford not to take them seriously now.

The gap at the top is just six points going into the game, with the Scottish Cup taking centre stage this weekend.

And if Rangers win the gap would be just three points – something that was almost unthinkable a couple of months ago.

He says that if Rangers do win, the Celtic side will be forced to doubt themselves and he doesn’t think Celtic will win easily.

Sutton says it’s all down to Rangers manager Graeme Murty and admits in his column in the Daily Record, “I can’t honestly say, hand on heart, I think Celtic will wipe the floor with Rangers.

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“Celtic have more of a vulnerability about them domestically this season – it was always going to be hard to maintain the standard they set last term – and Rangers are showing signs of improvement.

“So there’s more of a contest and it’s good for Scottish football. That’s the reason I came north of the border when I signed for Celtic – because it was competitive with two teams going toe to toe. We want that back.

“Murty has played a blinder in terms of the way he’s spoken. He’s been respectful and said last week Rangers need to be ready to pounce if Celtic slip up – and they have slipped up a few times this season.”

Football Insider verdict:

Murty is getting praise form all directions and rightly so. he’s done a brilliant job at Rangers and we’re talking as much the manner he’s gone about his role as much as the results. But the results have been good. He’s got his Rangers side firing and there’s a real sense that they could come away with a win at Ibrox. If that happens, it will send a seismic shock through Scottish football. But, as Sutton himself has said, it’s what Scottish football needs. 

In other Rangers news, ‘Interesting conversation’ – Murty reveals what Celtic boss told him about Rangers job

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