Since the late 1800s, The Old Firm Derby has been more than just two Glaswegian football clubs kicking a ball, the rivalry off the pitch can be excluded, politics and religion aside – the on-pitch rivalry has boiled down to one aspect, who is the best. And for nine gruelling seasons, Rangers have taken a cruel view of their rivals raising the Scottish Premier League trophy year after year.
The party time for Celtic is ancient history, Steven Gerrard stepped up and has stepped over the opposition this season. Celtic was one league title from making history; it would have seen them win ten league titles consecutively. But not without a helping hand, let us be honest here. The 2012 liquidation and relegation of Rangers assisted Celtic in their “dominance”, the re-build may have taken longer than expected, but Rangers are again title challengers.
102 of the 125 Scottish League trophies have been shared between Rangers and Celtic, but with the twenty-one-point gap between first place and second, Rangers could secure the 2020/2021 title within a record-breaking time. With less than half the domestic season’s schedule remaining, Rangers are also on the brink of an undefeated season; bookmakers agree that Rangers’ success will continue by offering such a low-value price on the trophy return to Ibrox.
Far from Easy
The comeback story is vast, shameful that fans cannot enjoy the celebrations with coronavirus restrictions. Still, Steven Gerrard’s arrival and tier 4 battles that previous squads had to go through to return are incredible.
Looking at the Rangers team today, you would not believe that they were losing the Challenge Cup to Raith Rovers six years ago. Four years spent outside of the Premier League was rough, but three promotions and four seasons later, top tier football had eventually returned.
The battle was far from easy or over; Rangers and Celtic’s financial gap was the problem. Envisioning another title chase was impossible, without funding or a miracle.
When Steven Gerrard stepped down from his Liverpool youth team duties, the miracle came to Ibrox in the form of a scouser. The task ahead still seemed impossible, but perhaps the English captain was overlooked and underestimated.
The previous season to Gerrard’s arrival saw Rangers in third place with two heavy cup defeats and of course, losses to Celtic. Gerrard has replaced the confidence the squad lacked since his landing. It has taken three years and a heap of trust, but the former England captain has taken the Old Firm Derby exactly where it should be, in the hands of who works the hardest. Celtic are not alone. Although the season has not quite concluded, I would put my money on rangers remaining undefeated over the improbable chance they lose their league position.
A cup-exit for Rangers last season was nearly the end for Gerrard: “Stevie took that defeat bad,” a close friend of the manager told ESPN reporters.
Let us Celebrate
Ok, the season is not officially over but will the twenty-one-point gap be overcome with less than ten fixtures remaining? Not a chance!
The beautiful game is currently played behind closed doors due to the pandemic, but on the 20th of March, Rangers will meet with Celtic in the season’s final fixture. A bittersweet end for Rangers in their Old Firm Derby.