Steven Gerrard says Rangers have smashed the Old Firm fear factor that left them quivering in Celtic’s shadow.
The Ibrox boss inherited a squad that had taken just two points and been outclassed by an aggregate score of 30 goals to six over the 11 derby clashes since they returned to the top flight.
And Gerrard said: “When I first came in there was a fear of Celtic.
“The supporters, and I predict some of the players, feared these fixtures.”
But he says all that changed last December after the Light Blues claimed a long-awaited victory over the Hoops at Ibrox thanks to Ryan Jack’s precious winner.
While they could not stop Neil Lennon’s team clinching their eighth title in a row, they did back up their earlier triumph with another home win in May.
Now ahead of the opening showdown of this season on Sunday, he insists his men – who go in level on points with the champions – will walk out at Ibrox with heads held high.
“Over the course of the 12 months we’ve proved that’s no longer the case and on our day we’re a good match for Celtic,” he said.
“This club has had a tough time. It’s been down the leagues and been back up. Celtic continued to have Champions League money and to strengthen and bolster the squad.
“It’s been a real catch-up. The gulf was huge and it was always going to take time to close that gap.
“But the Christmas fixture last year when we beat them 1-0 lifted a lot of the fear and gave us a lot of belief that if we find the right level we’re a match for anyone, especially at Ibrox.
“That’s what gives us confidence going into this fixture.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.