Steven Gerrard has led Rangers to the summit of the Premiership for the first time in seven years following Sunday’s victory over Hearts in Edinburgh – the trick now is to stay there for the remainder of the season as the Ibrox boss acknowledged.
“We have had to work extremely hard to be in the position we are in. We understand Celtic have a game in hand and that people are pushing from behind. The message to the players is quite clear – you have worked ever-so-hard to get to where you are, but now you have to work even harder to stay there as the pressure comes even more from behind.
“Everyone wants to beat Rangers, even more so when you are at the top.”
The visit of Aberdeen to Ibrox tonight represents the first challenge for the League leaders – and a packed Ibrox will relish the opportunity to right the wrong of the League Cup Semi-Final defeat to Derek McInnes’ men at Hampden five weeks ago.
Rangers dominated that Hampden clash only for a late goal by Lewis Ferguson to decide the outcome in favour of the ‘Dons’.
That was a sore one to take for the Light Blues – as indeed was the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie on the opening day of the campaign when a last-minute goal by substitute Bruce Anderson denied ten-man Rangers all three points after the Ibrox men had controlled most of the game despite a 12th minute red card issued to Alfredo Morelos by Referee Kevin Clancy, later rescinded on appeal.
The Ibrox boss was in no doubt that this game will be as hard as any on the calendar as he recalled the two earlier clashes.
“It’s a tough game against a good team who are very competitive. I don’t think we’ve had the results our performances have deserved - but that’s football. .
“It was a very difficult game on the opening day going to ten men, but our performance was excellent and we came away with a point
“In the semi-final, we played well but lacked a bit of quality in the final third.
“This will be a completely different game. It’s at Ibrox and it will be great to have two recognised strikers available,” he added.