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gerrard's title Steven Gerrard toasts glory for Rangers as Celtic's miserable title defence ends


Rangers fans set off smoke bombs as they gather outside the Ibrox Stadium, to celebrate their team winning the Scottish Premiership title. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Rangers fans set off smoke bombs as they gather outside the Ibrox Stadium, to celebrate their team winning the Scottish Premiership title. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Rangers fans set off smoke bombs as they gather outside the Ibrox Stadium, to celebrate their team winning the Scottish Premiership title. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard has paid tribute to the stellar collective effort that has lit up Rangers’ path to their first title triumph in a decade.

The Ibrox outfit are celebrating being crowned kings of Scotland for the 55th time after bitter rivals Celtic stumbled at Dundee United.

Having spent so long in the shadow of their bitter rivals, Gers have now cantered to the title with six games to spare and will have the chance to rub their bitter rivals’ faces in it in two weeks’ time as they walk out at Celtic Park having already smashed the Hoops’ reign of dominance.

While Gerrard had to rely on individual performances – with Alfredo Morelos usually the leading talisman – to get him through some sticky situations in his first two ultimately trophy-less seasons, this term the Light Blues’ list of star men at times has numbered one to 11.

Skipper James Tavernier has contributed 17 goals from right-back, goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defender Connor Goldson will also be leading contenders for player of the year after forming a defensive wall that has conceded just nine league goals in 32 games so far.

In midfield, Steven Davis continues to put in vintage displays at the age of 36, while Morelos has timed his return to form to perfection with eight goals in the last 11 games seeing Gers over the line in the league and into the last 16 of the Europa League.

“In year one and year two we have at times been heavily reliant on certain individuals,” said Gerrard, whose side now turn their attention to Thursday’s Europa League clash with Slavia Prague. “It’s taken us time to get the squad into this shape with this quality.

“I think the star is the team. There is no ego in the team. Everyone is playing together. There’s a great spirit in the group.

“I think everyone – and me included – has expected at some point, as we got closer, to see some nerves or tension or some inexperience.

“But this shows the strength of the dressing room. There’s a lot of fearless young players and some real calm heads. We’ve got the balance spot on at the moment.

“That doesn’t mean we’re set. We need to keep moving it forwards and improve things – and we will.

“But in the short term it’s about getting them ready for two massive games now.”

Rangers fans flouted lockdown rules at Ibrox to celebrate the 55th crown for the second day running.

“After a superb campaign so far, Gers’ win over St Mirren yesterday put them on the verge of glory, with results elsewhere today meaning they can mathematically no longer be caught, with incredibly six matches still to play,” read a Rangers statement.

“It’s title number 55 for the club – the most of any football club in the world – and the first in 10 years following one of the most arduous decades in the club’s history.”

Graeme Souness, a former Rangers player and manager, paid tribute to Gerrard’s team.

He said on Sky Sports: “It’s been a long time coming. Celtic have had a period of domination which has been uncomfortable for Rangers’ supporters.

“They’ve been fantastic all season and they thoroughly deserve it. I just wish I was in Glasgow right now. There’s part of me which wishes Celtic had won today so that Rangers could win it at Parkhead.”

Interim boss Kennedy was left rueing a series of “big chances” as he conceded Rangers were worthy champions

“Everyone’s disappointed. Us as much as the fans.," he said. "It’s been a rough season and ultimately we have to face up to the fact we have not been good enough this year and Rangers have been better than us and that’s why Rangers have won the league.

“We’ve had such a long spell of dominance not just in the league but other competitions as well and this is a setback for us.

“We can’t stand back and feel sorry for ourselves and think, ‘oh well that’s gone’. We have to keep driving forward.

“There is the Scottish Cup to play for and for players in the squad it’s about moving forward to next year and the next challenge.”

Asked what needed to happen at the club for next season, Kennedy replied: “That’s a decision for the board and how they structure things and what they want to change. But ultimately it’s about having the core group there and adding to that and getting better and improving.”

The former Celtic defender however, urged caution against wholesale changes.

He said: “I think there is always panic in these moments, it can be very emotional at times, especially in the city of Glasgow where it is always Celtic and Rangers.

“When ones wins and the other doesn’t there is a setback and everyone gets so concerned by it, ” said Kennedy, who welcomed the return of James Forrest as a second-half substitute after being out since last September with an ankle problem that required surgery.

“Yes, there have been concerns this year that we have to address but massive overhauls don’t often work so we have to be stable in terms of the end of the season.

“We know what we have to fix and we have to make sure we fix it.”

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