Dubai: Steven Gerrard has given Rangers a far better chance of stopping Celtic’s nine in a row, says Gers legend Ally McCoist.
The blue half of Glasgow are currently tied second with Celtic behind leaders Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership. It’s the best position Rangers have been in mid-season since re-emerging from four years in the doldrums two seasons ago, after they went into liquidation in 2012 and had to start again from the bottom of the fourth division.
Within this time Celtic have gone on an undisrupted run of seven league wins, getting close to the record of nine in a row, set by themselves from 1966-1974 and equalled by Rangers from 1990-1997.
McCoist — who played for Rangers during the nine in a row (1983-1998) and managed them during their liquidation (2011-2014) — says there’s a chance Celtic’s latest attempt to reach the landmark can be stopped with their new manager.
“We’ve got a far better chance now with Steven in charge and the players he’s brought in, but we still need to strengthen next season as well,” said McCoist on the sidelines of a Christmas Question of Sport golf day at the Address Montgomerie in Dubai on Thursday.
Asked why things were now closer at the top between Celtic and Rangers, he added: “It’s a better league now, as simple as that. As a country we’ve never been strong enough to have the best teams out. Now that we’ve got Hibernian, Hearts of Midlothian and Rangers back in, its common sense that we’ve got a better league.
“A lot of people would have thought Celtic would be running away with it, but it’s not the case. They’ve still got the best squad with better players and a majority of people would think come New Year they’ll kick on. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.”
Celtic, he said, had started slow, perhaps due to their Champions League play-off exertions in pre-season, but he warned they would be back.
“They had a dodgy start to be honest with you but they’ve definitely been hitting form the last four or five weeks. It’s a healthier league but make no mistake, Celtic are still the team to beat.”
Wherever Rangers finish in relation to Celtic however, McCoist said former Liverpool captain Gerrard deserved credit for his first season in management.
“It’s very early and it would be wrong for me to say what Steven can do but he conducts himself very well. He’s an intelligent man and I’d be very surprised if he didn’t go right to the top.”
Extra motivation in Gerrard’s mission to stop Celtic is to rile his former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers — now in charge of Celtic — who limited playing time for Gerrard towards the end of his career.
“Forget Brendan, the rivalry is with Celtic. It’s been there for 100 years and will be for the next 100. That’s who he’s got to beat,” added McCoist.
McCoist, former Manchester United star Teddy Sheringham, former jockey Kieren Fallon and former Wales rugby player Mike Phillips all played in the golf and will be present at the Question of Sport evening with from 7pm on Friday at the Address Montgomerie. Tickets cost Dh650. Call 055-553-2619.