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Steven Gerrard tells Rangers to 'control the noise' in quest to stop the 10

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Rangers will run out to a soundtrack of squawking seagulls but Steven Gerrard knows the volume is about to be cranked to 10.

The most eagerly-anticipated Scottish football season in a generation gets underway at Pittodrie at lunchtime.

Usually, the crowd inside the Dons’ ground would crackle and fizz but Covid-19 and closed- doors fixtures will make the occasion more surreal than snarling.

But even amid the echoing bird song and yells from players, Gerrard is still aware of the white noise surrounding the campaign to come.

(Image: SNS Group)

Rangers have proved they can go toe-to-toe with Celtic on one- off occasions these last two seasons but fell woefully short of going course and distance for the duration of an entire campaign.

Gerrard is refusing to pile pressure on his players by setting their title goals - publicly at least - but he knows they have to cope with the pressure and expectation that will unfold in the coming weeks and months.

He said: “We have to be strong in terms of attitude and mentality over the course of a season.

“For me, it’s important to try to control the noise. We have to accept there will be a lot of noise because we understand the importance of the season.

“But it’s the next challenge which is vital, that’s Aberdeen and that’s what we’re focusing on right now.

“The important thing for us is to hit the ground running and try to take our pre-season form into the first game.

“Aberdeen away has always been a tough challenge but you can only go on successful runs if you win the next game. The plan is to start strong, take three points and put a statement out there with our performance.

“It will certainly be different without any fans at the ground.

“We’ve had some rehearsals in pre-season to get used to that and it will have pros and cons as far as we’re concerned.

“The cons are we won’t have the Rangers following up there who travel in their numbers and really get behind their team.

(Image: SNS Group)

“It’s the same for both teams and we have to accept it.

“The advantage will be it’s quite an intimidating atmosphere up there. Their fans get behind the team and can change the momentum of a game within it. But it’s an exciting fixture and one we’re all looking forward to.”

Aberdeen and Rangers have met eight times at Pittodrie since the Light Blues returned to the top flight of the Scottish game in 2016.

The Dons triumphed in just one, the first when Leicester favourite James Maddison netted a last- minute winner to give his loan club a 2-1 win.

There have been four draws and Rangers have won three times, including a 4-2 victory in Gerrard’s first season in charge.

Steven Gerrard (Image: REUTERS)

Their 2-2 draw at Aberdeen in December after being two goals in front reflected the inconsistency that cost the Light Blues the chance to mount a title challenge for the second year in a row.

Gerrard enjoyed Liverpool’s title win although the celebrations after Jurgen Klopp’s side won the Premier League for the first time in 30 years would pale into insignificance if the Ibrox men lifted the top-flight trophy for the first time since 2011.

Gerrard said: “It goes without saying how happy I was for everyone at Liverpool and it was great to see from an ex-player’s and a fan’s point of view.

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“But I’m at Rangers and my challenge is to make us as successful as we can. Every time I see success, it does whet your appetite and get the hairs on your neck standing up because you want to be successful too.

“Will we win the league? It’s a bit early to be saying stuff and creating headlines. For me, the focus is Aberdeen and trying to hit the ground running.”

Gerrard was surprised the five- substitute rule was only passed on Thursday afternoon.

But he added: “It’s an opportunity to get more people game time, keep more of your squad happy and blood some youngsters.”




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