THE message of one game at a time has taken Rangers this far. Now it is a case of keep calm and carry on at Ibrox.
It was clear at the start of the campaign that there was a different focus and renewed determination around Steven Gerrard and his squad. If any further proof was needed of the benefits of that mindset, the Premiership table offers the ultimate affirmation.
While title rivals Celtic have capitulated and self-combusted in recent months, Rangers have been a model of professionalism and ruthlessness.
They now stand on the brink of title glory as they look to see off Ross County and quickly move on from their draw with Motherwell last weekend.
It would have been easy for Gerrard’s side to get caught up in the hype and to be distracted by events across the city. That is not how the Ibrox boss works, though, as Rangers prepare to reap the rewards of their efforts.
“The narrative, as far as we’ve been concerned all season, is to focus on ourselves,” Gerrard said. “We’ve got a very important game coming up and the focus is on the here and now.
“I think you’ll get bored of me repeating that, but that’s just how it has to be. It’s so far so good from our point of view.
“The players are certainly focused and the application has been there up until now. But there’s a tough challenge coming and we need to be ready for that.
READ: Ibrox immortality awaits Steven Gerrard’s side when Rangers clinch title win
“The players are bright enough to understand we are not going to gain any kind of advantage by focusing on anyone else.
“It’s very important that we stay inside and focus on the internal messages. Those internal messages haven’t changed since the start of the season.
“We need to look after ourselves. I don’t think we performed to our level last week in terms of our first half performance. But we got a reaction in the second half and I was much better pleased.
“We got ourselves back into the game and over the course of the 90 minutes we just about shaded it.
“But it was another lesson for us last week. We can’t come into games late, we also can’t leave games early.
“These have been the messages we have been hammering home to the players.”
The switch to Ibrox two-and-a-half years ago ensured Gerrard would experience a number of firsts in the game as he made the move from Liverpool to Glasgow and from coaching into management.
There have been some difficult lessons for the Anfield icon to learn at times and the scars of successive failed campaigns were able to be healed during the long period between the end of last term and the beginning of this one.
Gerrard is aware of the past and what those disappointments felt like, but he is more interested in the future as Rangers close in on their first league flag in a decade.
Gerrard said: “We don’t really want to look back on what happened last season, we did that during the summer and it’s very much a case of looking forward.
“We are fully aware of how the last couple of seasons have gone, how we performed and what we did wrong, what we needed to learn from.
READ: Rangers remain ‘active’ in the transfer market as boss Steven Gerrard addresses Bournemouth links
“It’s been a case of pushing every single department. The players want to improve and they want to get better but I won’t allow anyone to think we’re the finished article because we’re not.
“It’s important we push the standards all the time, individually and collectively. As a group and as a staff we are all over the players to try and drag the best out of them.
🎥 PRESS CONFERENCE: Steven Gerrard spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s match against Ross County at Ibrox.
📺 Buy the PPV and watch the match live on @RangersTV: https://t.co/nydbzeWbHy pic.twitter.com/8f1bDuT5hF
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) January 22, 2021
“They are well aware of how our journey has gone so far and what still needs to be done.
“We know what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done so well, we have been together long enough. We know we can’t take our eye off the ball at any time, we can’t become complacent.”
Victory over County this afternoon would take Rangers one step closer to the achievement that every supporter has waited so long for and that Gerrard has worked towards since arriving at Ibrox.
It seems a matter of when, not if, Rangers win the title. There could be added incentives in the shape of breaking through the 100 points barrier and going unbeaten in the league but there is one ambition that remains paramount for now.
Gerrard said: “All our focus is on Ross County and exactly what’s in front of us.
“It would be naive of us to look beyond that. That’s the wrong way to go about it.
“There’s been no talk, there’s been nothing to enter my head in terms of points totals and targets.
“I’m not thinking about trying to match others who have been on these unbeaten runs.
“The focus for me is to try and get three points on the board on Saturday. That’ll help us move closer to where we want to get to.
“After that, we look towards the next game. That’s exactly how it is.
“We don’t want or need any other pressures or expectations coming in from outside. It’s very a case of focusing on what’s in front of us.”