OWEN Coyle knows Celtic are formidable opponents, but he’s plotting a way to make County the team finally to beat them in Scotland.
The Ross County manager is relishing the chance to try to become the boss to stop the record-breaking champions in their tracks.
The Hoops have gone 63 domestic games without defeat, beating their own British record. They will arrive for the lunchtime kick-off at the Global Energy full of confidence against their eighth-placed hosts.
Coyle is well aware that Celtic are backed with quality, but wants his players to ask questions of their adversaries in a bid to cause a massive shock.
He said yesterday: “We have to get to a stage where we don’t allow them to be at their best. When we get the ball we want to cause Celtic problems. We are at home and we want to be seen to be trying to win this game.
“I set my teams out to win games by attacking. That’s what I have always done, but we will obviously be very wary of the threat Celtic pose. We have to look to enter into the game and be positive, on the front foot. When we have the ball we must be aggressive and try to create our own chances to score.
“We are ultra respectful about the quality Celtic have, but it is really about us getting to our best levels. If we play at our best we are capable of achieving a huge shock. Everyone outwith this club gives us little or no chance. That’s fine and I understand it when you look at the quality Celtic have.”
He added: “”We have goals in us. We have shown that by scoring six times in our last three games – once against Hearts, twice against Hamilton and three times against Motherwell.
“We know we are playing against the best team in the country by a distance this time, but everybody has fragile points, no matter how good they are.
“There is always an opportunity to score goals, so we have to try to capitalise on that. There is no doubt that when we create chances we will have to be clinical and, at the other end, we have to defend for our lives.”
Coyle has been blown away by Brendan Rodgers’ seemingly invulnerable side.
Hoops manager Rodgers has taken players to an astonishing unbeaten record of 63 domestic games in a row.
And the new British statistic outstripped the club’s own 100-year-old record set by Willie Maley’s Celtic side, which went 62 games unbeaten between 1915 and 1917.
Coyle and Rodgers have a lot of respect for each other, but the Staggies boss says he would relish County ending that record.
He said: “We’ve come up against each other three or four times. When I was at Bolton we met his Swansea team in the Premier League.
“I think when he took over at Watford my Burnley team played them in the year we got promoted.
“He’s somebody I’ve always got on very well with – he’s genuinely a really nice man. I think that’s been shown in how he’s conducted himself as manager of the club.”
But Coyle underlined the old adage that there is no room for sentiment in football. He added: “You want people to think Dingwall is a tough place to come, and that teams including Celtic know they are in for a difficult game.
“Coming to Dingwall should always be a tough afternoon for any club, but we have to be at our very best.
“It’s a simple scenario. If we are at our best and Celtic are at their best, Celtic will win. But if we are at our best and they are not, we have a chance.
“If we do well we will all sleep well at night. The bit that leaves a bad taste in your mouth is when you don’t perform to your maximum.
“You don’t want to go away thinking ‘I could have done this, I could have done that’. The time to do it is on the field.
“Players have to make sure they don’t play the occasion, they play the game. It has been shown before that you can achieve results in difficult games.”
Coyle saluted Celtic’s success under Rodgers and said: “When Brendan came into Celtic they were the champions and had won the league for a number of years already.
“He recognised there were a lot of good things going on at the football club, with a lot of young players.
“Looking at the infrastructure, Brendan would be the first to tell you that a lot of people before him deserve enormous credit for that.
“They had brought some wonderful players to the club over the years. He looked at it and recognised there was nothing broken, but he had to try to enhance it.
“He’s made some wonderful signings. Financially it would have cost him money, but to get the likes of Scott Sinclair to the club – a wonderful player and a match-winner even at the top level of the game – is great.
“He showed that as a kid coming through. All the way through in England he was a wonderful talent and he’s shining again now because he knows he’s got a manager who believes in him and trusts in him.
“Sometimes that’s what players need and Brendan has shown that. They have evolved as a team in terms of how they play their football. The Aberdeen game was a perfect example. Aberdeen are a good side but they couldn’t lay a glove on Celtic because of their passing, movement, the speed they did it and the interaction between players.
“Scott Brown looks like he’s just starting his career with the way he’s going about it, with his passion, enthusiasm and fitness levels. He’s a real leader.
“Through the spine of their team they have very important players.
“I could wax lyrical and talk about them all day, but it’s important that we make sure from our perspective we’ve got our team ready to give their all, which they will.”
More from the camp inside this week's Ross-shire Journal