The hype which surrounded Rangers’ appointment of Steven Gerrard was swiftly dismissed by Celtic supporters as nothing more than mere noise, but the manner in which the season has begun would suggest that their closest rivals are in the ascendancy and have every chance of narrowing the gulf in class this season.
After years of sheer domination in Scottish football Celtic are experiencing a rare blip which is threatening their supremacy.
Brendan Rodgers has led the club to title victories and mind-boggling records since taking charge at the club, but is the pendulum beginning to swing in the direction of their fiercest rivals?
It’s certainly too early to claim that Rangers are close to being on Celtic’s level, especially considering they were outclassed in the Old Firm derby just over three weeks ago, but Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas believes that the Gers are serious title contenders this season.
“Rangers lost seven league games at home last season – that will not happen this season. They will have a much better record, which means they will close the gap on Celtic.
“Celtic are playing poorly, Rangers have momentum. For the neutrals, it absolutely makes things interesting but as a Celtic man I am concerned – seriously concerned.”
Even with a productive summer transfer window and the appointment of Gerrard to consider, very few would have predicted Rangers to be a point ahead of Celtic after 6 fixtures.
But it’s the manner in which Rangers are collecting their points which has evoked concern from Nicholas in relation to Celtic’s title defence: “Rangers last season may have won that game against St Johnstone 1-0 or 2-0; now they are going to Europe, getting results, thrashing teams domestically and momentum is growing.”
That Rangers are winning convincingly is certainly indicative of the mentality which Gerrard has installed into the club thus far, and the message they have sent out on the field of play is one which is characterised by a stubborn refusal to remain subordinate to Celtic.
The problem for Rodgers is that he has set the bar incredibly high, whilst Gerrard will not be placed under the intense pressure which the Welshman now finds himself under after just a handful of poor results.
But Nicholas believes the answer to Celtic’s problem lies within the tactical system which is currently being employed as he also suggested that Rodgers needs to revert to a 4-4-2 formation with both “Griffiths and Eduoard up front.”
Nicholas is absolutely right to suggest Rangers are genuine title contenders and there’s no doubt that Celtic supporters have reason to be concerned about the growing revolution at Ibrox, and it may well take a tactical change from Rodgers for the Bhoys to reassert their dominance.
Rangers and Celtic fans – thoughts on Nicholas’ comments? Let us know below!