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Usher: Reds defence key at Basel

Liverpool about an hour ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 22, 2008

McManus determined to finish off title push

Ten years ago a teenaged Stephen McManus turned up at Celtic Park expecting his favourite team to sweep to victory over St Johnstone and secure their first title win for a decade.

And so it seemed as Henrik Larsson and his team-mates secured a 3-0 triumph that is etched in the memories of Celtic fans.

Celtic will almost certainly win another title, with McManus as captain, if they beat Dundee United at Tannadice tonight.

They hold a four-goal advantage at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League over Rangers, who face Aberdeen.

However, unlike his teenage self, he knows it is not as simple as turning up at Tannadice and winning.

'Just being a fan you think when the team play St Johnstone to win the league it would be easy,' the 25-year-old said. 'It is not until you are in this situation you realise that these teams can be tough going.

'Dundee United are a very good side and it is going to be a very tough game. Everybody is expecting both teams to win their games but sometimes it doesn't work out like that.

'Pittodrie and Tannadice are two of the hardest places to go. I think it will be one of those times when you can go into the history books. It is times like these you really relish. We have a chance to win the league but it is important not to rule anything out.'

While Celtic face a difficult match against a team who have not lost an SPL match at Tannadice since their Boxing Day defeat against the Hoops, the players also face the tough task of lifting themselves following the death of Tommy Burns.

The squad attended their first-team coach's funeral on Tuesday after his death from cancer at the age of 51.

But McManus is determined to use Burns' memory as a factor to rally around.

'It is about keeping composed and not allowing your emotions to get the better of you,' McManus said. 'It has been a helluva week for everyone. It will probably add an extra 50% motivation. In life you just have to deal with these things and that's the way it has been for us.

'The one person we can do it for is Tommy Burns and, even if that is a bit of cliche, that is what we will try to do.'

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