FORMER Celtic defender Alan Stubbs has revealed he does not believe this season’s title chase between his old club and Rangers is as “ferocious” as it was in his day.
As the Glasgow giants prepare to resume their Premiership campaigns in midweek, the Hoops are two points ahead, but Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox men have a game in hand.
The title race was blown wide open just before the turn of the year when Gers triumphed 2-1 at Parkhead on an afternoon when Neil Lennon’s outfit blew the opportunity to open up an eight-point advantage.
The next meeting of the champions and the challengers is due on March 15 at Ibrox and, as the tension mounts with every game, Stubbs, who also played for Bolton and Everton as well as managing Hibs, Rotherham and St Mirren, lived through similar circumstances more than 20 years ago.
He was part of the Hoops squad that watched Walter Smith’s team clinch nine in a row in season 1996/97.
The following term, however, he was a key man in Wim Jansen’s side that stopped the Rangers domination by winning the title on the final day of the season with a 2-0 victory over St Johnstone on the afternoon Henrik Larsson and Harald Brattbakk scored the goals that brought the Parkhead men their first championship in a decade.
Stubbs, speaking to the Sunday Post, said: “I might be living back down in Liverpool, but I’m well aware of what’s going on up in Glasgow.
“I don’t miss a thing and I can feel it all getting hotter and hotter.
“However, I don’t think it’s quite as ferocious as it was in 1997 and 1998. I don’t think the same enormity can be felt just yet.
“We were the chasers back then, and we had unbelievable determination and desire to stop Rangers from doing 10 in a row.
“It was also a massive help to us that we won the League Cup before the halfway point of that season and it helped our confidence and belief to have a trophy in the cabinet.
“Rangers haven’t got that this season, having lost the Betfred Cup Final to Celtic.
“That may well add a little bit to their levels of anxiety when it comes down the final push. It may well come when it gets to the last six or seven games of the season, the Premiership split.
“But, just now, despite all that has been said, I still don’t think the tension has reached the level we felt.
“Look, we all want excitement and we all want there to be a real edge to it. But we don’t want it spilling over, on or off the park.
“People need to be adult about it all and show the correct leadership qualities.
“But the players and managers will feel it, probably like never before. It will be really tense and they won’t have any fingernails left.
“Maybe none of us will!”