Terry Butcher believes beating Celtic just once this season will represent initial success as Rangers manager for Steven Gerrard.
Former Rangers captain Butcher expects Scottish champions Celtic to “crank into gear” over the next few months and go on to win an eighth consecutive title.
But, while he feels second best is as much as Gerrard can hope for in his first season in the Premiership, Butcher is backing his fellow ex-England captain to lay down a marker in his longer-term quest to switch the Old Firm balance of power back in Rangers’ favour.
The Ibrox side are currently just two points behind Brendan Rodgers’ league leaders but Butcher says: “Celtic will come into their own in the title race when the New Year comes around. That’s what they do. The machine cranks into gear and is ready to go. Celtic seem to have a breather during the early part of the season, then ‘wham’ and they find top gear. But I’m looking at Rangers and asking if there is one game where they can beat Celtic this season. I would set that as a target for the Rangers players. That’s probably the next step for them.
“People say you are not judged on the Celtic games in the Premiership, because they are normally so far ahead. But you are always judged on the Celtic games as a Rangers manager. You could say Rangers were a bit closer in the 1-0 defeat at Parkhead earlier this season but Celtic were still very dominant.
“But Stevie will learn from that. He has to have a belief that everyone in his team will be on fire when it comes to playing Celtic and, hopefully, one or two of the Celtic players aren’t at their best. I’ve been very impressed with Stevie so far. If he didn’t know how big Rangers was before, then he does now. He has taken it in his stride. He looks the part. He has certainly built a team that, if it’s not going to challenge for the title this season, is going to challenge for at least second place.
“He is learning all the time. The way he speaks and goes about his work, it’s very encouraging for Rangers and for him.
“Of course, he is looking at future jobs, the Liverpool job if it ever comes up. But to do that, he has to get success elsewhere. What would qualify as success at Rangers? Finishing second to Celtic? Some people would say that is success in the current circumstances but Rangers fans certainly want more than that and I’m sure Stevie wants more than that. He doesn’t want to finish second. He wants to finish first. He didn’t quite manage to do that in the league at Liverpool. He nearly got there but he doesn’t want to just nearly get there with Rangers. He wants to go all the way.
“That might take a bit of time but I think he is in it for the long run. Getting success at Rangers will get him a job in England eventually. Every manager wants to work there, because the Premier League is where the big bucks and the real glory are in many respects. But the Premiership is a tough league and Rangers is a tough job. If he can cope with this, he can cope with anything.”