CELTIC hero Stiliyan Petrov insists there “will be panic” at Ibrox after boss Steven Gerrard’s departure for Aston Villa last week.

The former Bulgarian international midfielder believes his old club must seize the moment with turmoil across the city following the sudden exit of the Liverpool legend after three and a half years in charge of the Govan club.

It’s a similar situation to when Brendan Rodgers walked out on the Hoops in February 2019 to go to Leicester City with Neil Lennon making a comeback to the Parkhead dug-out. The momentum continued with the champions beating Hearts 2-1 at Tynecastle only 24 hours afterwards on their way to an eighth successive title.

WELCOME BACK, LENNY…Neil Lennon shows his joy at Celtic’s 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle in February 2019 shortly after Brendan Rodgers’ abrupt departure.

Coincidentally, the Tynecastle side were also the opposition as Odsonne Edouard fired in a double in an identical scoreline in the Scottish Cup Final on the special date of May 25 to clinch the remarkable treble treble.

So, the Hoops managed to stay on the silverware course, despite the quick change around in managers, but Petrov is adamant it may not be so seamless at Ibrox.

The one-time Parkhead playmaker said: “Celtic haven’t been given a gift by what’s happened with Steven Gerrard moving to Villa, but they have been handed a major opportunity to win the league.

“It’s an unexpected boost, but they will have to make the most of this opportunity by winning games.

“Of course, it could be a decisive moment in the title race. Gerrard leaving has in itself given Celtic fans a boost.

“They will now believe even more that this upheaval across the city is the perfect scenario for Celtic to become champions this season.

MAGICAL MAY 25…Odsonne Edouard races away in triumph after scoring the Scottish Cup winnr past Hearts keeper Bobby Zlamal at Hampden to complete the treble treble in 2019.

“There’s no doubt Rangers now have a big problem with Gerrard leaving. If you look back to when Brendan Rodgers left Celtic, he’d been working with that team for several years.

“He’d taken time to build that side, to get them playing in the way he wanted, that doesn’t happen overnight.

“There was a specific philosophy with the way Celtic played under Rodgers and the biggest factor within that was the trust the players had in their manager. Those were the ingredients which led to success.

“This is now the problem which Rangers find themselves in – and it’s a big one.”

Petrov, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s inevitable that disruption is created by the manager leaving.

“It happens at every club, but at the Old Firm it can send a massive shockwave through the dressing room.

“Gerrard had been at Rangers for over three years, he had to build the side and create that trust between himself and the players both in the way he manages and the way he wanted the team to play.

“Regardless of who the new manager is, it’s going to take time for him to build that trust. Can Celtic use that time? We will see.”

DERBY DELIGHT…Stiliyan Petrov is about to be embraced by Henrik Larsson after scoring in the 6-2 demolition of the Ibrox outfit in August 2000.

Petrov added: “When Neil Lennon came to Celtic in the February, the side had a good balance and was playing with confidence.

“For that reason, he didn’t have to touch much and allowed that consistency to carry on from Rodgers, so that was a big help.

“Lenny just had to continue that work and do certain things. It allowed for a nice transition that season and there wasn’t long left in that campaign.

“The situation at Rangers is different as there is still so much of the season left to be played.

“There is still so much which can happen and at the moment Rangers don’t have a manager.

“There is speculation that may change, but it’s possible they still won’t have anyone in permanent charge when the players return from the international break.

“There’ll be a bit of panic and uncertainty as Rangers have lost their main man, the person who made the big decisions and now he’s gone.

“If you take any other business or place of work and remove a person who does a great job then it’s always going to be difficult to bring someone else in who can continue in that same way.

“That’s not realistic as every manager works in a different way.”

Celtic will take on St Johnstone in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday with a 5.15pm kick-off while the Ibrox side face Hibs at the National stadium the following day with a 4pm start.

Once again, it is going to be a crucial and intriguing weekend in Glasgow.


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