With a massive task ahead of him, it would be easy for Airdrieonians manager Ian Murray to not expect a thing from Saturday’s glamour tie against Celtic at Parkhead.
He insists, however, it’s business as usual for the Diamonds and that he will get his players to put on a show for their supporters.
The odds are stacked against them, however. Airdrieonians will travel to Glasgow to take on Brendan Rodgers’ side in Scottish Cup action, in hope of causing one of the competition’s greatest upsets. Murray and his players are relishing the challenge.
He told NTOF: ” Our preparations from this game haven’t been much different from any other game, and I doubt Celtic’s will be either.
“We make sure we’ll be ready for the game. It’s a very difficult task, we’re well aware of that, we know how good they can be on their day. Despite that we are looking forward to the game and the challenge ahead.
“This is probably one of three or four ties we would have liked, and we got it. We all love cup runs and it was vitally important we got to this round to give ourselves the opportunity of getting this tie. In terms of pitting ourselves against the best, it’s a great opportunity to show how good we can be.”
No fear factor
It’ll be a borderline miracle if Murray’s side get a result against Celtic on Saturday, but with everyone outside of the Excelsior Stadium writing them off, self belief will be key to any success the Diamonds are to have on Saturday.
Murray’s men play in League One, so this will be a massive jump in quality. Despite this, the Airdrieonians boss has drilled home that his players can’t afford to be overwhelmed by the occasion.
He said: “There has to be a genuine belief we can go there and get a result. You have to have that mentality in football. We have to keep that little bit of hope and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’ve been there myself, where these games can be a great afternoon or a very long one.
“You just have to take in your stride. Don’t be scared of them, don’t be fearful and go try show how good you can be as an individual and as a collective.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us. It gives us a break from league action, a different scenario.
“The biggest mistake you can make is writing off Celtic, when people tend to do that, they give teams a hiding.”
The perfect tie
For a team like Airdrieonians, theses games don’t come around very often. It’s important to enjoy these occasions when they arrive. The chance to see your team challenge itself against the best is a mouthwatering proposition, even if it could result in an ugly score at the end.
If the Diamonds are to get a result, it has to be now, with an impressive one defeat in six games going into the cup clash meaning Murray’s side are in good form prior to the Parkhead battle.
They may be outgunned on Saturday, but Murray hopes that the travelling support back his squad all the way. In Murray’s mind, this is the best draw his side could have possibly got.
The Diamonds boss explained: “The game is a nice financial bonus for us, as it’s all about balancing the books for us at the moment. I see teams like ourselves go to Celtic and Rangers, and the money they make is just wasted. The money is definitely good, it gives us a little room to breathe.
“There’s always going to be potential banana skins in the cup. Would we have liked a Morton or a Falkirk? Probably not. It’s still a very difficult game for us and there isn’t any finance in it, plus the romance of the cup is gone. That’s no disrespect to them though. I doubt they would like to play us for the same reasons.
“We would absolutely love to beat Celtic at Parkhead, who wouldn’t, but we need everything to go in our favour.
“We just wants the fans to come and support us, because we will need them more than ever. I think we have sold about 1400 tickets which is fantastic, it shows we have the fans with us.
“If we can add 100 people to our home crowds with a good performance against Celtic I’ll be absolutely delighted.”