ALEX Rae believes Celtic and Rangers have undergone a role reversal in the past three years – and thinks the Ibrox club will be well-placed to retain the Premiership trophy in the 2021/22 season regardless who their Parkhead rivals sign this summer.

Rae, who won the Scottish title with his boyhood heroes on “Helicopter Sunday” back in 2005, has been impressed with the work Steven Gerrard has done to strengthen his squad in preparation for the new campaign.

The Liverpool and England great has landed midfielders John Lundstram and Nnamdi Ofoborh and striker Fashion Sakala since his team went 38 games unbeaten in the top flight and were crowned champions for the first time in 10 years back in May.

Celtic have brought in Ange Postecoglou to replace Neil Lennon as manager and the former Australia and Yokohama F Marinos coach is currently attempting to bring in reinforcements in several key positions.

However, Rae feels the team that finished trophyless last term are in “a bit of disarray” and is confident that Rangers have both the set-up and strength in depth they need to build on the success they have enjoyed domestically and in Europe in the coming months.   

HeraldScotland:

“Celtic don’t have their troubles to seek,” he said at the launch of Going for 55. “They are struggling. Look at when Steven came in three years ago. Celtic’s infrastructure was very good. They were in a healthy position, but now it almost looks like it’s roles reversed.

“They look like they are in a bit of disarray, struggling to get players in and they have a manager who wasn’t first choice. They have their work cut out to get players in before the Champions League qualifier (against Midtjylland of Denmark on Tuesday). Celtic will worry about their side of the street but, as I said, Rangers are in a very good place.

“You have to say Rangers are finely placed at the moment. We don’t know if there’s going to be any more comings and goings, but they must be happy with the personnel in place.

“There are the additions of Lundstram, Ofoborh and Sakala. And (Jack) Simpson and (Scott) Wright have had six months in and around the club to get a little flavour. Looking at the performances last season you have to say Rangers are favourites going into this campaign.

“There’s expectations, but the nucleus has been there for a few years now. Your mainstays have seen the other side of it and will have to deal with this now.

“That’s one of the things at Rangers, you have to deal with these expectations and going into the season as champions. But on the back of that season, if you’re a player in there then you’d imagine they’d be really looking forward to getting going.”

Rae, who played in the Premier League in England with Sunderland and Wolves, feels the capture of Lundstram, who has plied his trade in the top flight down south for Sheffield United in the past two seasons, is a shrewd bit of business.

The former Dundee and St Mirren manager is also optmistic that other kids will be inspired by Nathan Patterson making the breakthrough into Gerrard’s side and will raise their games as well.

“Lundstram is a modern day midfielder,” he said. “He is powerful, has great energy. He did the hard yards by taking a step back, going down the divisions and then up to the Premier League. He obviously has a bit of character to take that route.

“He’s a really good addition. One of the key things, if you look at the personnel they have in various positions, I don’t think they had that in the first couple of years.

“Look at midfield for example, Lundstram has come in for (Bongani) Zungu so you then have the six midfielders who are all competing for three midfield berths then you look at the back where the defensive record last year was a record.

“You look at the youths – Patterson is coming through and he’s probably the first to break into the first team for a while. Other youths will see that pathway.

“They just need to hit the ground running. Steven Gerrard will look to get through pre-season with a clean bill of health and if they can then I think they will kick on.”

‘Going for 55’ tells the story of Rangers’ rise from the Third Division to become Premiership champions in season 2020/21 and is available now, priced at £17.99. It includes contributions from Dave King, Paul Murray, John Gilligan, Ally McCoist and many others.

For more information visit: www.polarispublishing.com