The smiling face of Rangers attacker Fashion Sakala has been polarising Scottish football this week as he stirs the pot ahead of the League Cup Final with Celtic.
The Zambian international is an immensely popular player amongst the Ibrox support and curried even more favour this week when he referred to Celtic as “the other mob”.
A subtle denigration which drew the ire of the usual Parkhead blowhards, the relatively innocent comment gave an insight into feeling inside the Ibrox dressing room.
The team cares and are ready to go to war Hampden, and the juxtaposition of the eternally jovial Fashion Sakala throwing out fighting words raised a few chuckles and headlines this week.
But where Fashion Sakala has split Rangers fans in his pre-match Celtic jibes is in insisting that the Ibrox team believe they are better than their Old Firm counterparts.
Celtic captain Callum McGregor claimed that the comments had “filtered” into the Parkhead dressing room, with Sakala claiming that Rangers are a “better team and a better club”.
Fashion Sakala lights Rangers v Celtic touch paper
It’s an interesting situation for many fans; on one hand, there are supporters pushing the old “pin it to the dressing room wall” line with Celtic using the striker’s commentary as inspiration.
Others reckon the comments of Fashion Sakala are evidence that the club’s swagger is returning, the ballsiness of the approach in contrast to the timid outfit we seen under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
But whatever the case, it’s put Fashion Sakala right at the centre of this League Cup Final and should he get the nod to start v Celtic his role in the game has now been made a fascinating one.
If the Zambian can strike the deadly blow or put in the shift that defines the game then Sakala is being lauded as a hero amongst the Rangers support.
If the attacker blows hot, fluffs his lines and fails to do his talking on the pitch, then Celtic fans have the perfect pantomime villain.
Whatever happens, it’s given the Celtic game an extra edge for the attacker and let’s hope we see the beaming smile of Fashion Sakala come full-time alongside a cheeky wink of self-assurance.
Meanwhile, Fashion Sakala has also been talking up the new Rangers supporting contingent in his home country.