IF Rangers, as now seems likely, don't go on and claim the Premiership title this season, they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

The fingers will point at Steven Gerrard and his players and it is they who will feel the heat from punters and pundits if Celtic go on and turn a ten-point lead at the top of the table into nine-in-a-row.

The fall-out when Rangers have stumbled this season is fierce. Everything from Gerrard's team selections to his tactics, from his players' mentality to injuries and suspensions is debated.

But the role that refereeing decisions have played cannot be overlooked. It is not an excuse, far from it, but the men in black have cost those in blue over the campaign.

Blaming the officials in the aftermath of a defeat can be an easy cop-out for a boss. As Gerrard said after the game with Livingston, you can be seen to be getting the violins out if you focus on the referee rather than your individual or collective failings.

The Gers boss was clearly upset by the performance of Euan Anderson and his team, who he claimed would be 'disappointed' with their showings at Ibrox.

Gerrard had no complaints with the yellow shown to defender Jon Guthrie for his lunge on Connor Goldson but it looks a red card challenge every time you see it.

It was Anderson that sent off Sam Cosgrove for an almost identical tackle at Parkhead and the Aberdeen striker would then serve a two-game ban in December.

If Anderson believed that Cosgrove had to go, then how on earth did Guthrie only merit a yellow card as he dived in and caught Goldson in the same situation?

The decision to rule out Florian Kamberi's strike was marginal and linesman David Doig can maybe claim the benefit of doubt. But Alfredo Morelos was clearly onside and that goal would have ensured the closing stages weren't nervy for Rangers.

Had Anderson awarded a penalty for Ciaron Brown's handball, the game could have been wrapped up.

The referee was yards from the incident and it becomes more baffling on each viewing how he could decide it wasn't a penalty. His reasoning - that Brown didn't mean it because of the conditions - got a disbelieving snigger in the press room as Gerrard explained it post match.

He could afford to be measured in his assessment after a crucial win, but the standard of refereeing is no laughing matter right now.

Rangers are not the only side to suffer as a result of the ineptitude of our officials but some decisions, of course, are more costly than others.

For example, Lewis Stevenson's wrestling move on Alfredo Morelos didn't impact on the final outcome of the game as Rangers beat Hibernian at Ibrox.

But what was going through Bobby Madden's mind when he chose not to book him?

The same can be said for Rangers' Old Firm win at Parkhead. Celtic's equaliser didn't cost Gerrard's side victory, but it shouldn't have stood after the ball hit Odsonne Edouard's hand.

The less said about Kevin Clancy's performance that day the better. But it would be a surprise if he gets another Old Firm tie any time soon.

Rangers won despite the officials at Parkhead, but couldn't at Hampden as Christopher Jullien won the Betfred Cup final for Celtic.

Rangers were masters of their own downfall, but the goal was clearly offside.

At Pittodrie just days before, John Beaton failed to award a penalty for a foul on Morelos and Rangers went on to let a two-goal lead slip. The ref apologised to Gerrard afterwards, but getting the decision right in the first place would have meant just a little bit more to the Ibrox boss.

As it would have if Beaton had spotted the handball in the build-up to Kilmarnock's equaliser last Wednesday.

Gerrard insisted at Rugby Park that he would be 'clutching at straws' if he used Beaton's performance to mask the problems of his misfiring side. He was right.

Referees ultimately won't cost Rangers the silverware this term but Gerrard is entitled to call out officials when the time is appropriate.

Just like Brian Rice was when Goldson got away with a handball at Accies a fortnight ago, or like Inverness boss John Robertson was as James Keatings was sent off against the Rangers Colts on Sunday.

Having a go at the referee can't become a managerial get-out clause but there are clearly concerns across the country about our officials.

Many keep quiet for fear of financial punishment and match bans, but it is only by talking about the problem that a solution will be found.