Steven Gerrard insists his Rangers players have done nothing to earn even the most tenuous comparisons with the Ibrox side whose European record they could beat tonight.
If Gerrard’s team avoid defeat at home to Spartak Moscow in their latest Europa League group stage outing, it will extend their undefeated run in the tournament this season to 11 matches.
That would eclipse the mark of ten games unbeaten in a single European campaign, set by Rangers under Walter Smith, when they effectively reached the semi-finals of the inaugural Champions League in 1992-93.
But as gratified as he is by the impact his squad have made in the Europa League, negotiating eight games in the qualifying rounds and two group matches so far without suffering a loss, Gerrard is quick to put the achievement in perspective.
“Listen, we’re not ready to be spoken about in the same breath as successful Rangers teams of the past,” Gerrard said. “We are nowhere near ready to be put on a par with teams like the one from 92-93. We cannot be spoken about in the same breath as that.
“I wasn’t aware of the stat – it’s news to me, to be honest, which tells you that it’s certainly not my main focus. Milestones like that are always nice, but it’s not our focus.
“We have a long, long way to go. We are on the back of a nice run in Europe. We need to protect that and try to extend it for as long as possible. But in terms of putting us up alongside Rangers teams of ten or 20 years ago, or whatever, then we’re not ready for that yet.”
Rangers, the bottom seeds in Group G of the Europa League, have punched above their weight so far with a 2-2 draw away to Villarreal on matchday one followed up by a 3-1 victory over Rapid Vienna at Ibrox three weeks ago. Gerrard knows his team now have an outstanding opportunity to strengthen their position at the top of the group and close in on a place in the knockout phase if they can overcome a Spartak Moscow side who sacked manager Massimo Carrera at the weekend after a poor start to their season.
“That’s the plan,” Gerrard added. “This Spartak team in the next few weeks will improve.
“They will have more confidence with getting a fresh start under a new manager, so we need to try and jump on them now when maybe they are not ready and set when they probably only had 48 hours to prepare for us.
“We are underdogs on paper, but in our dressing room we will go in with confidence and belief.”