SCOTT Brown, the Celtic great whose Ayr United side are set take on Rangers in the Scottish Cup on Saturday, has deftly sidestepped a potential war of words with his opposite number Philippe Clement ahead of his return to Ibrox.

Clement described Brown as “a manager that doesn’t really like Rangers” in an interview with the Glasgow club’s official television channel following his team’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen in a cinch Premiership game in Glasgow on Tuesday night.

The former Scotland internationalist, whose combative playing style and occasionally antagonistic actions and remarks made him a hate figure in Govan during his hugely successful spell at Parkhead, is sure to get a hostile reception from the home support this weekend.

But Brown, who took over from Lee Bullen at Somerset Park last month, has no interest in getting involved in a slanging match with the Belgian as he is focusing fully on helping his Championship team pull off an upset against their treble-chasing top flight hosts.

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“That’s alright, he can say what he wants,” he said when he was asked about Clement’s description of him at a press conference to promote the pick of the fifth round ties in the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition yesterday. “For me, that is up to him whatever he talks about.

“I’ll not disrespect other managers. Yes, I have had a career on the other side of Glasgow at Celtic. Obviously, people put two and two together. But for me that was a long time ago and this is my main focus. For me, it is more about me taking my team.”

Rangers moved alongside Premiership leaders Celtic on points with their win on Tuesday night and are strong favourites to triumph over opponents who currently occupy a mid-table position in the Championship.

The Herald: Scott BrownHowever, Brown is, even though he knows he will be targeted for abuse by Bears from before kick-off until after the final whistle, looking forward to the outing enormously and is optimistic that his players can give a good account of themselves and learn invaluable lessons.

“I have been used to it (being targeted by fans) throughout the years,” he said. “It is part and parcel of what my career was and where I played as well. I am expecting to get welcomed back. But for me it is all about our lads and how they go and cherish this experience.

“It goes with the territory, you either go one side or you go the other. For me, I picked Celtic and I enjoyed my time at Celtic. I had 14 great seasons there. But now my time is why Ayr and I am looking forward to going back.

“That was a long time ago. It’s about these lads now, trying to make them as good as they possibly can be. I’m not here to talk about whatever I did in my career. That’s done and dusted. People can read about that in 10 years time. From now, it’s about me having that drive to become the best manager I can be.”

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Brown added: “We have got a very, very young team. There is a little bit of experience as well with Aiden (McGeady), Murph (Jamie Murphy) and Sean (McGinty), but most of the lads are really, really young.

“To play against top quality players and to play at a stadium that is going to be packed and to not be able to hear your team mates five yards away is going to be hard for them. But they need to deal with these situations if they want to become top players.

“We know we are the underdogs, but sometimes they win games. We have to make sure we are focused for 90 minutes because they have got good players and they can open us up. They are a little bit more direct and on the front foot than what they have probably been in the last couple of seasons. We have got to make sure that we can soak up that pressure, deal with that and are in the game.

“It is going to be hard, we are going to have to work our socks off, but we do believe that we can be in the game for a long period of time. Other teams have done that. As I say, we need to make sure we are switched on for the 90 minutes.”

Brown will not be the only member of the Ayr set-up who will have a few choice words aimed in his direction by the Rangers supporters on Saturday – former Celtic and Republic of Ireland winger McGeady is sure to come in for some stick too.

The Somerset Park manager joked that he may use his old team mate to deflect attention away from himself when the teams come out of the tunnel before kick-off. “I am definitely going to send Aiden out first!” he said.

The Herald: Rangers manager Philippe Clement and his Aberdeen counterpart Neil Warnock at Ibrox tonight