There are many among the Rangers faithful who thought their club’s equalling in the 1990s of the Scottish record of nine-in-a-row titles achieved by Jock Stein’s Celtic meant they had ensured a permanent equal league standing.
But now it is under serious threat with treble treble-winning Celtic showing no signs of flagging after eight in a row.
Mark Hateley, a key man in the Ibrox club’s nine-in-a-row squad, maintains that there was always the possibility of Walter Smith’s side being caught but he hopes that Steven Gerrard can stop Celtic.
“I’ve never thought nine-in-a-row wouldn’t be beaten,” the 57-year-old said. “Records are always there to be broken. If you put your mind to it and have belief, anything can be done. Celtic have had that mindset, it’s a remarkable achievement what they have done. As part of a nine-in-a-row group, I know what it takes out of a group, the constant drive and ambition that’s required every time you play.
“It’s difficult. We missed out on the double treble in 1994 to Dundee United, so I understand the demands on players and the importance of freshness throughout. It can come to an abrupt end so to keep going is an unbelievable achievement. But I am optimistic about Rangers after what we have done this year. If we can achieve that again I don’t think we will be far behind.
“We are in a good place on and off the field, we’ve built strong foundations and I like what Steven’s done. We are probably two windows in front of where I thought we’d be right now, when you consider the big changes in a short space of time. “Steven is an ultra professional and a smart guy. He’s in a good space on the back of two Old Firm wins at Ibrox, where they played very well.
“They have set the level now and that’s how you develop as a team. You keep moving the bar up. In top teams, once that bar is set then you never drop below it for a long period of time. Steven did that as a player and I’m sure he’ll do it as a manager.”