McCourt keeps feet on ground
Published 18/02/2011 | 05:00
Celtic winger Paddy McCourt is adamant there will be no over-confidence ahead of Sunday's Old Firm derby -- just a determination to keep pushing to end the Hoops' two-year spell without a trophy.
The SPL leaders are firm favourites with bookmakers ahead of the visit of Rangers following their impressive display with 10 men during the recent Scottish Cup draw at Ibrox.
Celtic have hit 21 goals in seven games and are unbeaten since losing to Hearts on November 10, while Rangers' preparations for the derby have been interrupted by their Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon last night.
But Rangers have consistently been able to dig out results under Walter Smith, winning six trophies to Celtic's two in the previous three seasons.
McCourt (27) has been a Celtic player for more than two-and-a-half years but has never won a medal at the Glasgow club, having been out of favour when the team last triumphed with a League Cup success in 2009.
"The mood is good, the lads are on an unbeaten 16-game run so confidence is high, but we try not to turn that into arrogance, we try to keep it level-headed," the Northern Ireland international said.
"There is no arrogance coming out of the dressing-room. There is confidence there but the last thing you want is for that to turn into arrogance, and I'm sure the management staff won't let that happen.
"It is still neck and neck for the title and Rangers are still in all three (domestic) competitions. It would be a bit stupid if we thought we were the best thing since sliced bread without actually winning anything."
McCourt feels a personal pressure to help Celtic deliver trophies as they battle Rangers in three competitions, with a League Cup final and Scottish Cup replay to come next month.
"When you come to a club like this, the one thing you come here for is to win trophies," the former Derry City man said. "If you're not doing that there's no point being here. It's two years I have been here and I haven't won anything yet, so I'm hoping this is going to be the year I can collect a bit of silverware."
Meanwhile, Rangers' hopes of reaching the last 16 of the Europa League suffered a setback when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Sporting Lisbon at Ibrox after missing a hatful of chances to win the game.
After an even first half, Rangers took control following the interval and Steven Whittaker deservedly put them ahead on 68 minutes when he rose highest in the box to meet Vladimir Weiss' corner with a powerful header. However, the visitors grabbed a crucial away goal on 89 minutes when substitute Matias Fernandez finished off a slick move.