Graeme Murty believes Rangers are getting closer to Celtic

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Ranger have gained some praise and confidence for being more competitive this season but manager Graeme Murty insists they have to take the next step and become winners again.

Celtic are on the cusp of clinching a seventh title in a row, although it has not been quite as easy as it was last season when they won the Premiership by the length of Sauchiehall Street.

Rangers' first-team stars train ahead of Sunday's encounter with Celtic. Picture: SNS

Rangers' first-team stars train ahead of Sunday's encounter with Celtic. Picture: SNS

They have already retained the League Cup and Murty knows the true recovery of Rangers will only be measured if they can beat their great rivals tomorrow and then go on to lift the Scottish Cup.

Coincidentally, the last time Rangers prevailed against Celtic was in the 2016 semi-final that was decided by Tom Rogic’s miss in a penalty shoot-out.

That was ten derbies ago and, in the interim, Rangers have only achieved two draws so Murty knows what has to happen next. He said: “I think for this team and club, we are ready and we need to take the next step of winning Sunday’s game and then going and winning a trophy.

“We need to demonstrate that it is getting closer. I believe it would do wonders for our psyche as a team. I’m making sure the players believe in themselves as a team and what we are doing. I believe we are getting closer to them. But the next step is to go and beat them.

“Let’s make sure we take care of that and the rest of the stuff, all the stuff extraneous to the game and outside our control, will quieten down. I believe that my team have more than enough, and showed more than enough, to cause Celtic a problem. We have to understand where they are dangerous and we understand they have good players.

“But I believe the gap has closed, demonstrably. And we have to make sure that the next step we take is going and winning a game. Because I think that when we do win a game it will kick our belief into another level. It would be great for the team and the supporters and the club to take that next step.”

Of course, the prospect of Celtic making history by becoming the first team to win the Treble back-to-back is anathema to all Rangers supporters and only adds to the mix tomorrow.

Murty said: ‘We have to understand that it is going to be an emotion-filled environment and understand all the history, pageant and noise. We have to understand that people will be in a heightened state and use that as a positive rather than being detrimental to our efforts.

“We have to then focus in on talent, structure and organisation, rather than the occasion.

“We have to try and marry the emotion of everything around the situation and use it as fuel to put in our best performance – because that is what I believe we are going to have to do to win the game. We have to make sure we don’t allow them to have free rein. But, more than in the midfield area, I believe we have to be clinical in both penalty areas

“If we get those margins to go our way I think we have a positive outcome. The margins are close, closer than they have been. But it would be nice for us to come out on the side of a close call or decision. Or an opportunity that we manage to take and they don’t.”

So will Alfredo Morelos be the talking point for all the right reasons this time after a shocking miss in the last league encounter?

“I think he has already said he has a point to prove,” said Murty. “I think missing the last one hurt him a bit. It is up to us to try and get the most out of him and put him in the situation to go and make the difference for us.

“I believe he can be a difference-maker for us.”