Cocky Celtic fans don't mirror Brendan Rodgers and his three-letter word can't be used to describe derby build up

Fun. (Noun): enjoyment, amusement or light-hearted pleasure. Brendan Rodgers lobbed in the little three-letter word last weekend to spark another one of those silly Old Firm phoney wars, but in reality none of those above can be used to describe the build up to the derby.

Try; Torture. (Noun): to cause great suffering or anxiety.

No one has had fun this week. Some Celtic fans might think they have by getting their gloating in early on social media. But ask some of their pals about that kind of behaviour, the ones with the haunted expressions all week, who know just about anything can happen in these encounters and who don’t dare count their chickens. There’s a fair chunk of supporters – on both sides – who seem to think the showdown is a foregone conclusion regardless.

Celtic have their main men fit again and they are flying. Rangers have been limping to the finishing line and are serial bottle merchants in these big games. But that is a dangerous attitude that Rodgers will have spent all week trying to keep out of his dressing room.

Celtic should have the stronger side walking out on Saturday lunchtime. Man for man they have players who have a higher ceiling than their opposite numbers. Yet, if some of those guys drop below their ceilings, then Rangers have players who are more than capable of reaching it. The Hoops cannot afford to underestimate their rivals, despite the cockiness of some punters. Rodgers won’t, that’s for sure.

What has been funny this week is the reaction to his fun talk. The Celtic manager is more than capable of dropping in little mind games along the way. He’s been doing it pretty much all season – but with his own team. Rodgers has used every trick in the book to keep his side on the path to the Premiership title, especially during the times when it threatened to go off reservation.

At times this year the Irishman has been critical of individual players in public, with even the likes of Reo Hatate called out and left out in the early days. There’s been a siege mentality adopted for months, talk about ‘narratives’ and perceived criticism among the support. The media – always a nice soft target to get fans on board – have copped it on occasions for questioning signings and pointing out some of the performances haven’t been so clever.

And there’s also been a recent mobilisation of the support, a call to arms, pleas for unity and a desire to come together for the greater good. It’s all pretty much worked. Yet last weekend’s fun line probably wasn’t actually a Rodgers coded message to wind up their chums across the city.

It sounded like he meant more like everyone in the country would get wrapped up in the crazy fever surrounding an Old Firm game. It wasn’t like he was suggesting Celtic were going to play with Rangers like a soft toy. Philippe Clement jumped on it as he’s attempting mind games of his own at Ibrox.

The Belgian knows a huge clear out is on the way in the summer but he needs to get every ounce out of this group until then. He’s four games away from a potential Treble but this one is last chance saloon for the main prize. Clement is lighting fires under his players and fair play to him.

But he’s up against a guy who knows exactly how to do the same with his players – and who knows how to win this fixture. Rodgers’ record is incredible in this fixture, with just one defeat and three draws in 16 games. His 75 percent win ratio is the best out of any Old Firm boss in history.

He did so because he doesn’t take this game for granted – regardless of what is going on across the city. Rodgers has been all smiles in recent weeks, looking relaxed and cracking jokes. No one should be fooled though.

He is deadly serious behind the scenes. This season has been about patching up and short-term fixes, but right now his squad is in a stronger shape than at any point since last August.

The team should pick itself – with Daizen Maeda starting along with James Forrest – and it should have allowed the Hoops coaching staff to spend this week working on the areas where the game will be won. Like at set pieces. Corner kicks have been like Kryptonite at times this term and Celts should have been doing overtime shifts to make sure they can deal with James Tavernier’s dead ball situations.

Celtic are unlikely to sit in and try to secure the point that would all but nail down the title. A clean sheet doesn’t sound like fun, but it does get the job done.