Since the return of top flight football down south last month, games have been played at a snail's pace. No intensity or spark, no drive or determination.

The excitement of fast-paced Premier League clashes and the steely, meaty challenges they'd usually bring has been seriously lacking from the behind closed doors matches we've seen so far. Fans have been unable to watch from the stands during the coronavirus pandemic and Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister believes it has affected players on the pitch.

That's from the outside looking in, of course. But the Gers coach expects his own players to perhaps have a similar response to a lack of supporters cheering them on at home, at least at the beginning. A 50,000 packed Ibrox Stadium can be a cauldron of emotion and atmosphere when it matters, which - for Rangers seeking to end Celtic's title dominance - it does every week. The fan roar can provide that extra 10 percent to players who are on their last legs during any 90 minutes.

Without that, players must be completely self-motivating. And McAllister, alongside boss Steven Gerrard, is using pre-season and their time together wisely to drum that into his stars in preparation for the potential shock to their system on August 1. "Going back to the start of televised football and watching the Bundesliga and the top end teams, they seem to play with that little bit more intensity," McAllister said.

"Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and I'd put Bayer Leverkusen in there as well. Then the English games started appearing on our screens and, make no mistake, football needs fans. We need to be aware that there's not that 12th man, that section of fans pushing you forward, driving you forward to make chances. That's got to come from within.

"As much as we've seen a lot of nice possession play, the criticism you maybe would have is that there's been a wee bit of over-passing and very little contact. The games [I've watched] that have impressed me are those which have had more intensity and contact, and tackles. That's got to come from within because we don't have the 12th man due to the pandemic.

"I've never played in an empty stadium but I have played when there's been no away fans and it is pretty strange when you're having good possession and not hearing any cheers. Watching the games recently, the teams that have moved the ball quickly across the grass, that's the way to impress the intensity. That's something we'll be looking to do, moving it quickly across the ground and the team have to adapt to where the ball is moving, but keeping the pace on the ball.

"The teams that's impressed me the most over the past four or five games is Manchester City and Liverpool. They're moving the ball really quickly."

The Light Blues coaching staff were left scratching their heads last season after the winter break when their players crumbled despite initially looking in seriously good shape to run rivals Celtic close. Complete capitulation on return home from Dubai led to the Hoops' title party. But McAllister has made it clear his players don't have to change everything about themselves.

The fact that the club were just two points behind Celtic with a game in hand after December 29 was enough to prove that they had played plenty of good football before the trip. "As much as lockdown has been difficult, it's been an opportunity to reflect and look, 'Where did we go wrong?'," he added. "The little points we can do better. Over the piece there was a lot of good, so we can't drive ourselves into the doldrums.

"Those moments in those games, and we all know what those games were, we've got to be more clinical. The games that we lost where we gave Celtic the lead was due to the fact that we were not as clinical as we should've been within those games. In other aspects we've looked at where we can improve. If we can nullify them, it's going to be competitive."

McAllister's former employers Liverpool recently sealed a magnificent Premier League title with a whopping seven games to spare. Their first domestic league trophy in 30 years. And the former Scotland midfielder believes his own outfit can emulate Liverpool's successes by taking note of Jurgen Klopp's team's adaptability and moulding it into a tactic that works for Rangers.

He went on: "I think every player at all times should always look at the very best and Liverpool are World champions, European champions, English champions. When I look at Liverpool, whether it's a tactical game they're very aware. If the game is a physical game they can deal with that. If it's an open and you want to take them on at a game of football, they'll probably win. They're masters of everything so not one dimensional.

"If within a game it becomes physical they've got players who can cope and that's the demand here. The expectation levels are the exact same so moments in games when we're playing well, that's fine, but you can't expect to dominate every game. Recognising those little moments within games, where we might have to pull together and be a bit more physical and tactically aware - or on the flip side if we're struggling to open up defences and we need to be a bit more expansive - putting all those things together is what we need to do."