Rangers may be still just finding their feet under Steven Gerrard, but Celtic’s defeat yesterday showed first place can be achievable this season.
Kyle Lafferty’s wonder-goal sealed a 1-0 win for Hearts over Celtic in just the second weekend of the campaign. If Brendan Rodgers’ side seen themselves as the team to beat, it hasn’t taken long for someone to do so.
However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a massive psychological boost for Rangers. Despite the positivity flowing through the club, last week’s 1-1 draw at Pittodrie was still a shaky opening to the season. It left Rangers two points behind and already looking up at the double-treble winners.
Yet, yesterday’s result already gives Rangers the chance to leapfrog their rivals early doors. It’s a huge boost after two seasons in the top flight where Rangers have failed to get ahead of Celtic.
And the result also shows that Celtic are there for the taking in the longer term.
Rodgers has put to bed talk of managerial unrest and question marks over his future, but all is not well at Parkhead. A refusal from the board to stump up the cash necessary for John McGinn has agitated an already unsatisfied support. It also appears the manager wasn’t to pleased with their action-plan either.
You can’t help but feel the Rangers renaissance under Gerrard has helped dampen the mood across the city. This time last year Celtic were lording it over their rivals after Rangers were knocked out of the Europa League by Progres Niederkorn.
However, there’s already a huge difference in feeling amongst both sets of fans this season.
Last term, Celtic failed to string more than three wins in a row domestically – dropping a huge 32 points.
This is the time for Rangers to be cashing in on those mistakes. Doing so will allow a return to the glory days of title races and excitement that has been too long gone.
It all must start with a win over St Mirren this afternoon. Anything less and it’ll feel as though Rangers have once again let Celtic away with one.
Aberdeen’s win yesterday over Dundee also puts pressure on the Gers to wrap up the points today. However, with Celtic struggling to get into their stride, it’s the champions that Gerrard must have his eyes on.