The Ibrox side can claw themselves to a second-place finish if they better Aberdeen’s result in the final weekend of the season.
But chairman Dave King will be expecting much more from the team under former Liverpool skipper Gerrard next term.
It is expected Gerrard will start a clear out as soon as he takes over on June 1, with as many as a dozen squad members facing uncertain futures.
Nicholl admits standards have slipped over the past 12 months but he has not ruled out the possibility that some of the players may still have a role to play next season.
“You have got to make sure you are strong enough to beat Celtic,” said the Northern Irishman ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hibernian. “It’s up to the new manager to decide how many he is short of doing that.
“There is a good group but sometimes they haven’t shown that. They certainly didn’t show it in those two Celtic games recently.
“But I know what they are like and I know that when Steven comes in, when standards are set and demands put on them, there will be some who will be able to handle it and some who will not.
“We’ve lost too many games this year. If standards (at Rangers) are about trying to win every game then they have slipped as we’ve lost too many.
“The players probably haven’t produced what they’re capable of consistently. Steven might get that out of them.
“We’ll get them ready and sorted for Sunday and whatever their futures hold, it will be good for some and other ones will have to buck their ideas up. They are going to have to if they want to stay here and I hope they do.”
Nicholl is hoping Rangers experience the kind of turnaround the club went through when Graeme Souness took over in 1986.
Nicholl, a former Manchester United defender, was one of the big names lured to Glasgow by Souness, with the likes of Terry Butcher and Chris Woods also arriving to spark a dramatic upturn in fortunes.
The conveyor belt of top talent continued to roll on in the years that followed but Nicholl could understand if Gerrard decided to take a leaf out of Souness’ book and keep his changes to a minimum to begin with.
“If Steven gets more out of the group we have at the moment then he may only need three or four players,” he said.
“When Graeme Souness came in he bought Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and there was myself and him.
“He didn’t turn around and bring in eight, nine or 10 players to change things around.
“That tells you there was enough in the club at that moment to turn things around, added with these three or four.
“So if the new manager comes in and says he needs eight or nine players to turn this around that will take time - but he’ll get the time.”