By Adefunmiloye Alani

3rd Oct, 2021 | 8:10am

Davie Provan: Steven Gerrard is fortunate Celtic are struggling

Rangers suffered another defeat in the Europa League on Thursday, losing 1-0 to Sparta Prague after opening their campaign with a defeat to Lyon.

Steven Gerrard’s side have their work cut out for them if they want to advance to the knockout stages, and Davie Provan was not impressed with their performance in the Czech Republic.

While winning the Europa League this season was never in their plans heading into the competition, retaining the Premiership remains the top mission, and Provan reckons Celtic have made it easy for the Ibrox side due to their poor form.

Writing in his The Scottish Sun column, the Sky Sports pundit said: “After winning last season’s title, Rangers couldn’t have asked for a better draw in the Champions League qualifiers.

“While Moldovans Sheriff had to get past Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Zagreb, Gers had it easier with Malmo and Ludogerets standing between them and the groups.

“On a night Rangers boss Steven Gerrard admitted his players were affected by “fear and panic”, the Scottish champions blew it at Ibrox against a Malmo side playing most of the match with ten men.

“Since then they’ve looked a poor imitation of the team that finished 25 points clear of Celtic last season. Gerrard got spiky recently with a hand-picked interviewer who suggested Gers were well off it this season.

“In the week his team fired blanks in another Europa League defeat in Prague, what was he expecting? Gerrard is fortunate Celtic are in such poor nick across the city.”

Successful title defence certain?

Alfredo Morelos was benched on Thursday, and it seems Gerrard placed more priority on Sunday’s league game with Hibs.

Victory will see his side head into the international break top of the league table, and they are early favourites to land the title.

Celtic have not looked challenging so far, and Hibs and Hearts do not look like strong contenders capable of going all the way despite their impressive start to the season.

Rangers have been below the standard they set last term, but they are still managing to get results on the domestic scene.

The Hoops’ woes have played into the Bears’ hands.

Gerrard does not have to agree, but the Light Blues are clearly not playing as well as they did last season.

The European results speak for themselves, but from the look of things, they will not have to struggle to retain their title.

They need to buckle up, though, as they should be progressing and building on last term’s solid league campaign.

A decline could be on the cards if care is not taken.

In other Rangers news, SPFL duo are under pressure to ban Bears fans after major development.