Soccer

Has the Steven Gerrard Rangers impact been over-stated?

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

09:35 9 Jan 2019


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It's been a while since Rangers were part of a title race. But victory over Celtic in the Old Firm derby has Steven Gerrard's side on the Scottish leaders' shoulders.

That 1-0 win on December 29th coupled with experienced loan signings - Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis - has generated more optimism for the blue half of Glasgow.

But is it more a case of a Rangers improvement? Or is it more that Celtic haven't had as impressive a season?

To get a perspective on that, BBC Scotland chief sports writer Tom English joined us to discuss.

Progress?

"When you look at it, is it because Rangers have advanced or because Celtic have regressed?" he said.

"It's a bit of both. Rangers are three points better off than at this stage last season in the league. Celtic are five points worse off. So Rangers have moved forwards a little bit, Celtic have moved back.  And that's why there's a narrowing of the gap."

While English still has Rangers as "underdogs" to win the league, he feels "they're not a million miles off it now".

But there are concerns for Rangers according to English.

"Rangers are haemorrhaging money. They lost £14 million last season. They're going to lose a lot more money this season," he said.

"But there is a desperation at Rangers to stop this Holy Grail of the 10-in-a-row. Celtic and Rangers have both won nine league titles in a row. No one has ever won 10 and Celtic are currently on seven. So Rangers are going all in now."

Celtic, Brendan Rodgers File photo dated 28-12-2018 of File photo dated 13-12-2018 of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

English also highlighted Kilmarnock's excellent season and how they've risen. Manager Steve Clarke could earn coveted glances from the top end.

"If and when Brendan Rodgers leaves Celtic, Steve Clarke could be a short-price favourite to succeed him," he said.

But English does not expect Rodgers' departure to come as soon as would have been expected after a fractious summer.

"He seems to be happier now than he was before. I think Celtic have looked over their shoulders and have seen Rangers a lot closer to them than they've ever been in the last 6-7 years. And [Rangers] are spending a few quid again," he said.

"In the summer, [Celtic] fell asleep at the wheel. Now, I think they're wide awake and they've signed three players. I think could sign another two or three before January."

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Brendan Rodgers Celtic Glasgow Off The Ball Old Firm Rangers Scottish Premiership Sport Sports Steven Gerrard

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