Steven Gerrard warns Celtic that Rangers will be even stronger next season
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard savoured his team’s completion of an unbeaten campaign in Old Firm matches and insisted the new Premiership champions will be ready for whatever Celtic throw at them in response next season.
A 4-1 win at Ibrox, with Kemar Roofe’s double complemented by goals from Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe, stretched Gerrard’s current undefeated run in games against Celtic to six.
It’s the first time since the 1999-2000 season that Rangers have not lost a match to Celtic in a top flight campaign.
With a new manager and summer rebuild on the way at Celtic, Gerrard will look to make further improvements to his own squad as their focus quickly turns to defending the title.
“What happens across the road is not really my business,” said Gerrard. “But we’re certainly aware of what’s going on over there and what type of reaction that side will be looking for.
“We’ll always respect that and prepare for it. At Rangers, recruitment never stops. I’ve been around the game long enough, even though I’m an inexperienced manager, to know you can’t stand still.
“We have to still identify areas of our group where we can help them get stronger because we’re not the finished article.
“Just because we’ve been fantastic in one league campaign and again been impressive in Europe, there are still areas and consistency that we need to strive for.
“My job and (sporting director) Ross Wilson’s job with the scouting network is to identify players who can help this group because in year four it’s key we have new faces who can energise not just us but the fans and everyone connected with the club. So, yes, we will be striving to get better.”
Gerrard was thrilled by the intensity of his team’s performance against a Celtic side who played for over an hour with 10 men after Callum McGregor was sent off.
“I’m really pleased with the performance,” he said. “These derby games are about big moments.
“We prepare for them to do whatever you can to make sure the big moments go your way.
“We picked a really aggressive and bold shape today as we wanted to go for Celtic’s throat.
“We did that and took the lead but unfortunately we were sloppy in terms of the equaliser.
“But then again it was us on the front foot forcing the issue and then Alfredo scored a fantastic second.
“When that was happening there was also a big moment with the red card – but it was the right call.
“So we’ve worked extremely hard for this victory and we certainly deserve the three points.
“Seven days ago I was sitting here really stung and hurt as we’d missed a big opportunity in the Scottish Cup.
“But in terms of the league I can’t ask for any more. The consistency levels have been incredible.
“Everyone has been all in and contributed in their own way, some more than others which is natural. But it’s been a collective effort.
“Recruitment was key last year to get better. To manoeuvre the league journey through Covid has been a real challenge but the players deserve all the credit because they are the ones who have produced the performances to get us to this point.”
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