‘You don’t get to three years without a trophy at Rangers’ - warning for Steven Gerrard

For both champions and challengers, one narrative is likely to dominate all others at the top of the Scottish Premiership in 2019-20.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: SNS

Celtic’s quest to win a ninth consecutive title and stay on course for a record-breaking 10-in-a-row – 
and Rangers’ bid to stop them - is the plotline which will be avidly followed by Old Firm supporters. The scrutiny on both clubs will be intense, but former Rangers striker Billy Dodds is in no doubt which will be feeling the most heat.

As Steven Gerrard (pictured) approaches his second season in charge of Rangers, Dodds believes the former Liverpool and England captain simply won’t be able to survive another campaign without silverware.

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“The pressure is on Rangers this season to win a 
trophy,” said Dodds. “You don’t get [to] three years without a trophy when you are at one of the big two. So it’s a huge season for Gerrard and he knows it.

“There is pressure on both teams but I don’t think Celtic are under huge pressure because they have won eight in a row and won the last nine domestic trophies in a row. So the pressure is greater for Rangers. They have to try to stop the run Celtic are on and that’s a massive task. It’s enjoyable pressure trying to win nine in a row. I don’t think it’s enjoyable trying to stop it.”

Dodds feels Gerrard’s public show of commitment to Rangers this week, amid speculation linking him with the imminent vacancy at Derby County, was an important boost for the Ibrox club’s support.

“It’s good he has come out and said he’s not going anywhere,” added Dodds. “Rangers fans, after getting some stability and a bit of improvement last season under Gerrard, want to see the club build on that.”

Rangers have made six signings already this summer, while Celtic are still waiting to complete their first deal of the summer. But Dodds believes the champions remain in a position of strength on the recruitment front.

“I think you have to take your time with it when you are in their situation,” he added. “I don’t think major change is needed for Celtic, it’s more about tweaking the squad. They have to look at a few things, like whether Kieran Tierney goes. I don’t feel there is huge pressure on Celtic to get five or six big names in right away. They can take their time.

“Gerrard has done business early on, adding new wingers and also looking at a few other positions. Sheyi Ojo looks a good player, he’s got good pedigree if he can get the best out of him, like he did with Ryan Kent last season. If he can get Kent back to the club as well, that would be big.

“I wouldn’t put the burden of pressure on younger lads like Jake Hastie. 
Jordan Jones can already handle it, given the way he dealt with the stick he got from Killie fans after his move to Rangers was announced, but Hastie was in and out of the Motherwell team. You don’t want to burden players like him by saying ‘your task is to win the Premiership title’.

“It’s important for Rangers to make a fast start in the league this time. You don’t want to be chasing right away, especially if you are one of the big two. They also have to win those domestic games while handling European fixtures.”