IAN DURRANT will always have his name in the Rangers history books for being part of their nine-in-a-row side.
Walter Smith and his squad desperately wanted to make it 10 titles on the trot back in 1998, but fell at the final hurdle.
Durrant and his team-mates felt severe pressure during the eighth, ninth and tenth championship chase.
The former midfielder admits he’d never experienced anything else like it during his illustrious playing career.
And, speaking from experience, he knows exactly what Brendan Rodgers and the Celtic players will go through during the next 12 months.
And should they fend off the Steven Gerrard challenge and make it eight-in-a-row next May, Durrant insists the pressure on the Hoops will become almost intolerable.
With due respect for the seven titles already in the bag, Durrant feels the real hard work is just beginning for Celtic.
He reckons they’ll be branded as failures if they don’t beat the current record of nine.
Durrant told The Sunday Post: “There is a lot of anticipation for the season ahead.
“Celtic, and their supporters, have got 10-in-a-row in their heads, and feel they want to charge on and achieve it.
“They appear to be optimistic.
“For Rangers, it’s all about stopping Celtic as quickly as possible.
“Because of the arrival of Stevie Gerrard as manager, there will be extra motivation.
“There appears to be a real feelgood factor around Ibrox, and with the club’s supporters, due to him being appointed as manager.
“He has made two or three signings already, and will look to build on that and keep improving the squad.
“But he will be under no illusions as to the size of the task in front of him.
“Brendan Rodgers has more than a two-year start on him, and Celtic possesses that winning mentality.
“However, they are now entering a period they will have not have experienced before.
“Yes, playing for clubs such as Rangers and Celtic is massive, and the weight of the badge can sometimes prove too heavy for certain players.
“I remember from my own time when we were winning titles that the pressure was enormous.
“You felt it every minute of every day, you really did. There was no escaping it.
“We got to nine, and that was a brilliant achievement because we were up against a really strong Celtic under Tommy Burns in the final two years of that run.
“Unfortunately we just couldn’t get over the final hurdle to win 10. It was one season too far for us.
“But each championship brings its own pressure.
“If we hadn’t got to nine championships, then we may well have been remembered as the team that didn’t do nine titles, rather than the team that managed to win it for eight consecutive seasons.
“It can be quite cruel and unfair, but that’s football.
“The same rule will apply to Celtic over the next season or two.
“I was ever so proud to be with that Rangers team between 1989 and 1998. We had a great bond and we all worked for each other and the manager.
“Time has moved on and we are talking about a different era, albeit with a similar scenario.
“Overall, what we all want to see is Rangers providing stiff competition.
“They need to be up there, and there has been a budget provided to mount a more-than-decent challenge.
“It’s now up the manager and his staff to ensure the money is spent as wisely as possible.
“I’m sure Stevie Gerrard will want to move a few players on, and if he can do that to supplement his budget, then even better.
“Bringing in the right type of person and the right quality of player is essential.
“It’s especially important when you are playing catch-up with your greatest rivals.
“All in all, I hope the next campaign provides the excitement and entertainment that every football fan in the country wants to see, week-in and week-out.
“Scottish football has a lot going for it, and we need to use the positives in the right way.
“The next year or two will no doubt have loads of talking points to keep us all going. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Durrant was part of the backroom staff during Smith’s second stint in charge of Rangers.
They won three titles on the trot – in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Hoops then went on their current run.
Durrant is now assistant-manager to Stevie Aitken at Dumbarton, and they were unfortunate to be relegated last month, via the play-offs, into League One.
“Stevie works wonders at our club,” said Durrant. “He is a fine young manager and can go places, for sure.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with him and we have a good group.
“We are looking forward to the challenges in the new season, and want to do as well as we possibly can.”
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