Chris Sutton reckons Rangers fans could turn on Michael Beale if the club are defeated by Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.

The Englishman has failed to topple his rival counterpart Ange Postecoglou since took over as boss at Ibrox, and pressure is now building with the title race dead and buried.

Rangers also lost out in the League Cup final at Hampden, so there is simply no room for slip-ups when they return to the national stadium this weekend.

Ahead of the fixture, Celtic hero Sutton piled the pressure on Beale as he appeared on Old Firm Derby Fan Debate Special, in partnership with Sky Bet.

He said: “Domestically, Michael Beale, bar Celtic, has performed well. But if he loses the semi-final there will be Rangers fans questioning his appointment – that’s just the nature of Glasgow. You have to finish on top, second is last, and this is the big problem for him.

“He’s talked up, and a lot of the players do this at Rangers, they talk themselves up going into the Celtic game. It’s not a bigger game for Rangers but it’s a game that will put them under major pressure if Rangers don’t win it.

“Michael Beale came in and he had the quip about ‘lucky’ Ange [Postecoglou], which I suspect right now, he regrets. I understand that he has to come in and make his mark, and there’s that great rivalry, but I think he could have played things a bit differently.

“From things he’s said in recent weeks, he’s watering down a bit and if you asked him privately, I suspect he’d regret coming in and trying to big himself up.”

On the pressure of fans in Glasgow, Sutton continued: “As everything, having played down south and where I live now in Norfolk which is the middle of nowhere. If Norwich City loses a game, people are upset but not that upset. You just carry on with the farming. If you draw a game in Glasgow, I mean the punters want to kill you.

“It’s one of those you have to keep your head down. If you lose to Rangers, you don’t go out the house for days on end. It’s everything.

“I’d heard a lot about the rivalry before I went up and started playing for Celtic, but I couldn’t actually believe the impact and the passion – not just in Glasgow but in Scotland. It’s an incredible place to play. The intensity, everybody focuses and knows who everybody is.

“You can’t finish second. It’s really interesting the dynamic going into the semifinal because I’m the same as the guys when Celtic play Rangers, you have those nerves – you want Celtic to win obviously but I think the pressure is off Celtic a little in this one. I think the pressure is mainly on Rangers and they have to win this game.

“I remember Brian Laudrup at the last game we did together saying that Rangers had to win that game. I don’t know whether that was necessarily true, but I think this one is big. And the Rangers support to make that tiny step to sort of think we can now maybe challenge Celtic next season.”

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