FORMER Rangers boss Walter Smith has told his old team: Do not count out Celtic.
The legendary Ibrox gaffer helped the team to a remarkable TEN championships during his two spells in charge, but the 72-year-old is refusing to join in premature thinking Gers have already derailed the Parkhead men in their quest for a tenth successive crown.
Smith was at Ibrox to see Steven Gerrard’s side overcome Neil Lennon’s men 1-0 on Saturday to open up a 19-point advantage at the top of the Premiership. Their city rivals have catch-up matches to play and the Gers icon is wary of celebrating too early.
The veteran chief, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “Celtic still have three games in hand and they have earned the right for everybody to believe they will win them.
“That’s not being disparaging to the teams they have got to face.
“It’s just a fact that over recent seasons they have been likely to win those games. So, Rangers should take it that they have got a 10-point lead. If you’d have said to anybody at Ibrox they would have that sort of lead at this stage they would have said: ‘Right, that’s brilliant, we’ll take that’.
“Rangers would be delighted to be 10 points in front at this present moment. But they can still appreciate that they have a lot of football to play before they win the title.
“Rangers have won another Old Firm game, but they are away from home at Pittodrie and Easter Road this month.
“Hibs have had a little blip lately, but have done well this season, while Aberdeen always get up for games against Rangers.
“So. those games aren’t going to be easy for them.There is plenty of football to be played and that’s not managerial caution when I say that. It’s a fact.”
Smith added: “Rangers have been building up to this and Steven Gerrard and his backroom team have done a tremendous job.
“They put themselves in a position last year where they showed they could get up there, but just couldn’t maintain it. But being successful is never easy. Nobody has ever won 10 in a row before, so that proves it must be really difficult.
“It’s difficult to keep teams together for that length of time.
“For Rangers, they have shown they can put up a challenge – but that’s all it is at this present moment.
“Celtic are effectively still the champions until somebody else takes that title off them.
“I’m hopeful Rangers will do that this year because it would be a great thing for the club and for Gerrard, as well.
“He’s done a lot of hard work and deserves something tangible to show for it. So, I’d hope he would be able to do that.”