A Rangers side that was scarred against Celtic has been inherited by STEVEN GERRARD. Now for Old Firm showdowns, they have war fever.
The Ibrox side had been outplayed, outplayed and outclassed by Celtic, one match at a time, when Gerrard took charge in May 2018. The derby was a day to be feared rather than celebrated, with their biggest rival constantly embarrassing Rangers.
That is not the case anymore, however. At Ibrox, Gerrard broke the Old Firm hoodoo and then, in his first two seasons, ended the wait for a win at Parkhead.
Another City triumph this time around is the basis on which the title challenge has been built so far. If Rangers win again this afternoon, Neil Lennon’s side will be 19 points clear, even though they’ve played three more games.
For such defining moments, Gerrard has always had the personality and attitude. Crucially, he now has the stars at Ibrox for the major games.
“There’s definitely a shift,” Gerrard said. Not only in terms of the consistency and standard of the eleven and the team, but also in terms of attitude, confidence and trust, there is a change.
We know that we’re a threat to everyone at our best, definitely in this league. We have complete respect for what’s coming, but the community I took over, with all due respect, was mostly hurt,’ he said.
As Rangers players, they had been through some hard times, the fans were suffering and there was a lot of pride that had been wounded in previous Old Firm games and outcomes. You can feel it.
As much as we tried to delay it, as much as we tried to encourage him, this game came upon us in September, in a very early new season, and we still had players in the eleventh season and in the squad who were part of previous teams who kicked well and were hurt by previous results.
“It always took time and a certain number of transfer windows and a building process to get the team to the point where they can really compete in this game with the belief that you can actually win it.”
This afternoon, the trust will not transform to complacency. Rangers are aware of the challenge that Celtic will present, but also the potential they have if they are to build on their Parkhead 2-0 victory.
Since the beginning of the season, there has been a renewed vigor and determination, and Gerrard is confident the attitude will come through again this time around.
100 percent,” he said when asked if his players are looking forward to these games these days. “I think if you’re not looking forward to this game, the way the season has gone so far, then you have a big, big problem if you’re not looking forward to it as a player.
They instantly concentrated on Celtic as soon as St Mirren was done, myself, the management and the players. For us, it’s a great opportunity to put in a good show and try to extend our lead.
“This is where we are, and with both hands, we want to try to catch it. If even one percent of you are not looking forward to this game, then you are working for the wrong boss at the wrong soccer club.
For Gerrard and Lennon, the weeks after the win at Parkhead have been very different experiences. Celtic fell into crisis as Rangers raced from success to success.
In recent games, the rebound came as Lennon shuffled teams and staff in an effort to heal the ills of his team and save the season.
This afternoon, it may be a very different Celtic coming to Ibrox, but Gerrard still has plenty of options as Rangers are aiming for a 14th straight victory.
Gerrard said, “I think that goes for both teams.” We now have players available who didn’t play that day, such as Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo.
We also expect the Celtic team to be different. They’re two good teams filled with good players. For different reasons, both teams are desperate to score – Celtic needs to fight back, we want to extend our lead.
That’s what really makes this game fascinating and exciting. That’s the reason we look forward to the match. The faster it gets underway, the better.
“It’s always been a challenge for us every time we’ve met Celtic, not just this season, because they have tremendous danger.
But every team has its weak points and places where the game plan can be tried and executed. We were where we were,