Rangers dropped points for just the second time this season, drawing 1-1 away to Hearts on Sunday which led to them relinquishing top spot to their Old Firm rivals by just a solitary goal scored.
The reaction to the result has led to question marks about the mentality of the Rangers squad from Steven Gerrard himself.
Still, it’s important to remember that the difference between Celtic and Rangers is literally one goal, a true indicator of how far Gerrard’s men have progressed not only since last season but since they returned to the top flight.
The nature of the performance has been the biggest cause for concern, just one shot on target and six efforts at goal overall. These figures don’t take into consideration Alfredo Morelos and James Tavernier both passing when they had the goal (almost) at their mercy.
Indeed, Gers fans need only look south of the border to see what happens when a team doesn’t perform at it’s normal level. Few would’ve backed Manchester United to get anything against Liverpool such is the gulf in quality and their respective starts to the season.
Walter Smith, Dick Advocaat and Alex McLeish all dropped points in treble-winning seasons, so perspective is key here.
Hearts’ league position is not reflective of some of the players they have at the club, they are beset with injuries to key players like Steven Naismith, John Souttar, Craig Halkett and Jamie Walker but are still not the type of team to be involved in end-to-end games given their style of play.
In tight, tactical games, the odd moment of brilliance or a mistake can be the difference and on Sunday this proved to be the case. James Tavernier failing to find Allan McGregor with a headed pass back led to Hearts opener after just 6 minutes.
It is worth remembering that Rangers have only lost two games this season, both games as a result of defensive mistakes similar to that in the Hearts game. This isn’t a tactical or technical issue but an individual one that can be rectified, it also isn’t a recurring problem, unlike Mark Warburton’s Rangers that couldn’t defend crosses or set-pieces.
The league is never decided in October and there will be plenty of twists and turns between now and May.
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