THE next seven days are massive for Steven Gerrard and Rangers.
Today’s trip to St Johnstone is the first of three vital fixtures before the winter break.
Hibs come to Ibrox on Boxing Day and then it’s Celtic’s turn to make the trip to the south side of Glasgow on Saturday.
The temptation, of course, is to take your eye off the ball and focus purely on the Old Firm game.
That would be foolish and unprofessional, and Steven is neither of those.
Indeed, he will know not to take anything for granted.
Part of the reason why there will be no complacency in the Rangers camp is because they haven’t been scoring enough goals in the past few weeks.
Their recent record of four goals in their last seven games is far from ideal.
They missed two or three gilt-edged chances against Hamilton last weekend, and it was a similar story away to Hibs last midweek.
That said, they played some very good football against Neil Lennon’s team and were very unfortunate not to win the game.
Alfredo Morelos is the man that is usually on the scoresheet. He has scored 17 this season and has been a huge asset.
But he should have had a few more and the player will know that himself.
In the recent games – and this just doesn’t apply to Morelos but for a few of the players – they look a wee bit nervous in front of goal.
They need to relax and concentrate on hitting the target.
Morelos must show a wee bit more composure in the 18-yard box, and also more awareness of others around him.
It’s something I’m sure he will know about and the management and coaching staff will be educating him.
But when confidence and belief is missing from a player, there is really nothing a manager can do.
He just has to sit back and give it time, and allow nature to take its course because the goals will eventually flow again.
Sure, you can practice and practice and do shooting drills and that kind of thing. But nothing can replicate that split second you have in real time on the park in a match situation.
It could well end up being that Morelos gets a goal by the ball hitting off his heel or his backside and going in.
That could prompt a turnaround in fortunes for him.
Or it could be an absolute screamer from 25 yards that does the trick.
Either way, a manager is just keen for his main striker to be banging them in.
What a manager or coach can’t do is find a magic wand to make it all OK for a goalscorer.
Magic wands simply don’t exist.
Short of a brain surgeon drilling into the head and finding a way to give players confidence and composure inside the 18-yard box, you just need to keep your fingers crossed and hope it all comes good sooner rather than later.
Rangers will want Morelos to score this afternoon at St Johnstone and who is to say that won’t happen.
What I liked about him from the game against Hibs was that Ryan Porteous was trying to wind him up and Morelos didn’t take the bait and didn’t seem irritated.
That’s a sign of progress.
He will need to be the same in the Old Firm game because it is very easy for players to get caught up in the atmosphere and the occasion.
I’m already looking forward to the game as it promises to be a cracker.
There is so much at stake and, regardless of results this midweek, we know there won’t be much between the teams going into the fixture.
That’s great for Scottish football.
But Celtic remain the team to beat. They are the Champions and they have the players with that winning mentality and titles under their belts.
It really is a tough game to call and it will be interesting to see the team line-ups that both managers go for.
Neither Steven or Brendan Rodgers will want to lose the game, but that doesn’t mean to say that I think they will set out for a draw.
You definitely can’t have that mindset for a game of this importance and magnitude.
I’m sure it will be a great spectacle and for Steven and Rangers, they will feel they are long overdue a victory in an Old Firm game.
The last time it happened was in April, 2016, although Steven only has one game against Celtic under his belt.
Celtic won that one 1-0 and deserved to take the three points. They were superior that afternoon.
But I do feel Rangers have improved since then and that makes it all the more interesting.
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