Ally McCoist believes Rangers still have it all to do to overtake Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season.
Hearts took up the early running in the title race but were crushed 5-0 at Parkhead on Saturday as Brendan Rodgers’ side moved to within a point of the Gorgie side at the top of the table.
Steven Gerrard rang the changes at Rangers when he took over as boss in the summer and the Ibrox side moved into third place in the league, four points behind their Old Firm rivals, with a 2-0 win at St Mirren on Saturday, following a 1-0 Betfred Cup semi-final defeat to Aberdeen and a 1-1 home draw against Kilmarnock.
Former Rangers striker and manager McCoist told Radio Clyde that for the Light Blues and the rest of the league, it is still about closing the gap behind Celtic who are aiming for their eighth successive title and the domestic treble treble.
“That’s what I think,” said McCoist, speaking at a Rugby Park press conference to help publicise Kris Boyd’s Testimonial game between Kilmarnock Heroes XI v Rangers Euro XI.
“I have got to be honest and say Celtic still have the best squad in the country.
“I don’t think they started particularly well but their recent form has been excellent and I still think they are the team for everybody to chase.
“But I don’t think anybody could argue, there has definitely been an improvement at Rangers.
“I don’t think there is any doubt about that but it was never going to be an overnight improvement, I didn’t’ think they were going to win the league with two or three points.
“I didn’t think that was ever going to happen and that certainly looks the case.
“If you take a step back and look at the whole situation, I think Rangers have definitely improved, as have Hearts, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone.”
McCoist, now a pundit, was boss at Ibrox between 2011 and 2014, and is impressed by former Liverpool and England captain Gerrard in his first managerial post.
He said: “I really do think he has handled himself very well.
“It is a tough gig and probably he will be appreciating it more now, just how tough a gig it will be.
“Obviously the defeat against Aberdeen in the semi-final, a game in which they dominated in terms of possession but clearly struggled in front of goal and then you have a home draw – the home form has been excellent- against an in-form Kilmarnock and all of a sudden you are two games away from, not a crisis, but people asking questions.
“That is the beast, particularly of the Old Firm.
“But I have been impressed by Steven, he knows what he wants, he is saying the right things and I just hope he gets the opportunity to freshen it up in January, if he wants to do that.”