Steven Gerrard has spent the last 18 months trying to play down the progress he’s been making at Rangers.
The Ibrox boss now faces a new challenge.
His task is to keep a lid on the growing expectation in the Light Blue ranks.
That victory over Celtic last Sunday has convinced many supporters that a
long-awaited league title is within touching distance.
Gerrard certainly won’t be getting carried away.
He knows from experience that cool heads are needed when it comes to delivering trophies.
Before the game at Celtic Park, he was asked if winning at the home of their greatest rivals would be laying down a marker. Would it show how the team was progressing?
He response was typically cool and calculated.
“I’m not an Old Firm fan,” he said. “I’m the manager of Rangers and I see the players every day.
“We’ve been playing non-stop football since the middle of July, so that’s a better gauge to see if my players have progressed, rather than going on one result or the outcome of one game.
“I appreciate and respect the importance of Old Firm games, and certainly how the pattern of this season is going.
“The Old Firm results could be crucial, but I won’t gauge how far we’ve come as a team on 90 minutes.”
Gerrard was as passionate as we’ve seen him at the end of last Sunday’s encounter, but you can be sure normal service will be restored when he takes his players for warm-weather training in Dubai this week.
It’s undeniable that Rangers continue to make good progress under the former England midfielder.
They’re two points behind Celtic with a game in hand, and have made it to the knock-out stage of the Europa League.
Reaching the Betfred Cup Final turned out to be a bittersweet experience.
Losing to Celtic despite dominating the game was a disappointment, but it appears to have convinced Gerrard’s men they have nothing to fear from the champions.
There have been a number of top performers in Light Blue, but it’s hard to look past Alfredo Morelos.
There have also been significant contributions from Allan McGregor, Ryan Jack, Steven Davis and Borna Barisic.
Morelos, however, remains the main man at Ibrox.
His critics – and there are still plenty of them– will point out that he still hasn’t scored against Celtic, and the red cards are again coming his way.
But he has scored 28 goals at the half-way stage of the season, and that is a remarkable haul.
Where would Rangers be without the Colombian’s ability to hit the net?
Jermain Defoe has an impressive goals-to-games ratio – 14 in 26 this season – but he’s now 37, and doesn’t possess the power to create his own chances in the way that Morelos does.
For all his shortcomings, Rangers fans will be delighted if El Buffalo is still in the squad when the transfer window closes.
Small improvements often make the difference between success and failure.
As things stand, Steven Gerrard will believe that pushing his players just a little more can finally end the trophy drought.
Rangers will be looking to streamline their squad, shipping out players who find themselves well away from a first-team spot and looking to make a couple of quality additions.
Gerrard will be well aware that Celtic won’t be sitting on their hands during the transfer window.
Losing to Rangers in the last game before the winter break will have hardened Neil Lennon’s resolve to sign at least two, maybe as many as four, players.
The Europa League campaign has been hugely enjoyable for all involved at Rangers.
They’ll want to go as far as they can but domestic success – and in particular the SPFL Premiership trophy – will remain the top priority.
Gerrard senses a real opportunity to win his first title as a manager, and he won’t let that slip away easily.
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