Soccer

There is a certainty about them – Derek McInnes ready for tough Rangers test

Kilmarnock’s shock win in August spelled the beginning of the end for former Light Blues boss Michael Beale.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes is expecting a tough test against rejuvenated Rangers
Derek McInnes Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes is expecting a tough test against rejuvenated Rangers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Derek McInnes believes Kilmarnock will on Wednesday night face a vastly-improved Rangers team to the one who lost at Rugby Park on the opening day of the cinch Premiership season.

A 1-0 win for the Ayrshire side on August 5 heaped immediate pressure on then Gers boss Michael Beale, who lasted only until October when he was replaced by Philippe Clement with the Light Blues trailing Celtic by seven points at the top of the table.

The Belgian boss has turned Rangers’ fortunes around, bringing the Viaplay Cup to Ibrox and guiding the Govan side to the last 16 of the Europa League where they will play Portuguese side Benfica, as well as overtaking their Old Firm rivals by two points in the league.

Killie themselves are in good form, with their only defeat in the last 14 games coming at Ibrox on January 2, but manager McInnes is bracing himself for a night of “bedlam” when the Ibrox men visit for the second time this season.

He said: “The biggest compliment I can give the current manager is that even with a lot of the players that played that day, there’s far more robustness about Rangers, there is a strength about them, they certainly have the added confidence that winning gives you.

“When maybe the performance that day was a wee bit unsure, there is a certainty about them now. You know what you’re going to get.

“I actually like the way he plays, there is a directness, there is a simplicity, an organisation, you see the detail in their work in and out of possession.

“They don’t think they are anything they are not. They play forward, they ask the question, put balls in the box, take shots on from distance. They work you and you need to be able to stand up to that.

“We’re expecting a tough game but equally, I expect Rangers to get a tough game from us, if we can be anything like ourselves.

“We feel there is a performance in us that can upset Rangers and cause Rangers problems.”

Rangers, who have won 10 in a row, scored in the second minute of their commanding 5-0 win over Hearts at Ibrox at the weekend and McInnes expects the start on Wednesday night to be important.

The former Gers midfielder said: “It will be bedlam here, there will be a brilliant atmosphere.

“It is a type of game players want to be involved in and that focuses you, the game demands that and concentration.

“When you are playing against players who want to start quick and come here and flex their muscles, you have to be ready to fight fire with fire and we want to make sure that we try to own that pitch, impose ourselves on the game, like we do any home game.

“Some games are easy to do that, tomorrow night will be a challenge against a strong Rangers team but we have to have the belief going on to the pitch that we are capable of getting a result.

“I know we have the performance in us to win the game and we have to do so much right to make sure that is the case.”