Between the lines: Was Steven Gerrard right to claim that there’s an open title race in Scotland?

Following his side’s 3-1 defeat of Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts at the weekend, new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard appeared optimistic that his side could mount a genuine challenge for the league title this time around.

What did he say?

As reported by Sky Sports, Gerrard made the following comments in his post-match interview:

“We’ve beaten a good team today because we went to war with them and we matched them in the war and then our football shone through and that’s what you have to do in games like this.

This result had nothing to do with Livingston and it doesn’t heal the Livingston performance which just wasn’t good enough.

The challenge for me and the team now is that can we make these home performances away from home and that’s when we will find consistency.

Today doesn’t heal Livingston, but it was certainly a statement and has blown the title wide open and made it a little bit better looking for us.”

The Gers boss declared the “title wide open” after eight games played with his own side sat in sixth place, five points behind Hearts, and two behind third place pre-season favourites Celtic.

What did he really mean?

Following the Bhoys’ poor start to the new campaign, Gerrard was likely trying to pile some extra pressure on the reigning champions. 

However, it is very early in the season still, and considering his side were recently beaten by Celtic in the Old Firm derby, Gerrard will know that his men have a long way to go yet before they can truly rival their great rivals. 

Will there be a title race? 

Rangers’ head-to-head record with Celtic is poor, having failed to beat the men in green and white hoops in their last nine attempts (seven defeats, two draws). Gerrard’s combative comments could easily come back to haunt him should Celtic go on to run away with the title as many still expect them to.

The head-to-head record, the current points deficit and Celtic’s recent return to form – Brendan Rodgers’ men registered a 6-0 away win against St. Johnstone last time out – suggests that if there is indeed a title bout this season then it’s all on Hearts to maintain their charge as Rangers will likely not be involved.