Derek Johnstone reveals how legendary Rangers manager Walter Smith has helped Steven Gerrard at Ibrox

Rangers can win the Scottish Premiership title this weekend if they beat St Mirren and Celtic drop points at Dundee United; Derek Johnstone also warns against Rangers complacency and gives his thoughts on how long the club can keep hold of Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Image: Steven Gerrard is close to winning Rangers their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade

On the latest Scottish Football podcast, Derek Johnstone reveals how Walter Smith has helped Steven Gerrard at Rangers, with the club on the verge of winning the Scottish Premiership title.

Smith is Rangers' second most successful manager, winning 21 major trophies over two spells, including seven successive league titles between 1991 and 1998.

Gerrard could lead the Glasgow club to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade this weekend, needing to beat St Mirren and hope Celtic drop points against Dundee United to seal the crown. However, should both Old Firm clubs win, Rangers could secure the title on Sunday 21 March at Celtic Park, live on Sky Sports.

It will be an incredible achievement for Gerrard in his first senior managerial role, and former Rangers striker Johnstone has revealed how Smith has helped the ex-midfielder to achieve success at Ibrox.

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He told the Sky Sports Scottish Football podcast: "Before he came up, Steven spoke with Kenny Dalglish and asked what Scottish football and Rangers were all about so he did his homework. And who better to ask when he comes up to Glasgow than Walter Smith, who lives 20 minutes away from Ibrox?

"I think they've met on several occasions, they've had lunch at Ibrox, and they've just sat down and Walter has explained to him what the club is all about and the clubs he's going to be facing, like playing Aberdeen at Pittodrie is a game the fans look forward to. Rangers are not liked up at Aberdeen and haven't been for many years, just things like that to give him an idea of what he's going to be up against.

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"Plus the pressure - if you lose two games at this club, you're under pressure. Steven would just sit there and listen because Walter has been there, seen it and done it. I think he's been a fantastic help for him and anytime there is a problem, Steven doesn't worry, he just picks up the phone and calls Walter, they can meet each other and discuss it.

"It's great for a manager to have an ex-manager there who was successful to talk to.

Former Rangers boss Walter Smith 1:10
Former manager Walter Smith has helped Steven Gerrard during his time as Rangers boss and it's something that has been key this season according to ex-player Derek Johnstone

"Steven keeps mentioning the fans all the time - 'Rangers have suffered for a decade, we know what that means, I know what that means because I've never won the league'. Yes, he's won the Champions League and that's fantastic, but they're the sprints. It's the marathon that people look for, which is the league.

"He's one of these men that has so much charisma and he talks so well, the players respect him too which is the biggest thing. They need to respect him and want to work hard for him and I think they're doing that. If they do that over the next couple of years, I think Rangers will be doing well to hold onto him for four or fives years.

"Then he can go with everybody's blessing because he's done what Rangers wanted to do over the last decade, which is come back and win that league."

'Nothing is finished until the title is won'

Alfredo Morelos celebrates his winner for Rangers
Image: Until Rangers win the title, they've done nothing, says former Rangers striker Derek Johnstone

Johnstone won three first division titles during his first spell at Rangers, and has warned the current players not to be complacent with the Scottish Premiership trophy in sight.

He said: "Rangers fans are now saying 'we're back'. They might have been playing well last season and after January it didn't work out and they lost it, but they've learnt from that.

"They've bought in players, Steven has probably got the best squad they've had in a decade with two players for every position, so he's bought really well. They've gone undefeated in the league this season and everything he could have dreamt of has happened for him. The Rangers fans will be absolutely delighted.

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"Online, Rangers fans thought they had won it months ago, but I was always taught under Jock Wallace, it ain't over until it's over. Some people will say they want to win it at Celtic Park, but the manager won't say that, he will want to win it as quickly as possible.

"I don't think I've heard a Rangers player saying they're going to win the league because the manager has drummed it into them to just keep playing, take each game as it comes - it's an old cliché - but you look at the next game, you're winning that and going further ahead, it's absolutely brilliant.

"But until they win it, they've done nothing. But once they do win it, it will be the biggest party in the blue half of Glasgow."

How long can Rangers hold on to Gerrard?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 23: Rangers Manager Steven Gerrard during a Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Ross County at Ibrox, on January 23, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group) 1:11
Rangers legend Derek Johnstone says Steven Gerrard will become a better manager if he stays at Ibrox for a few more seasons and continued success will help seal a move to Liverpool

Once the tile is secured, the question will be - what can Gerrard and Rangers go on to achieve?

Johnstone believes there could be more titles on the horizon, but Gerrard will eventually move elsewhere, possibly to his boyhood club, Liverpool.

He added on the Sky Sports Scottish Football podcast: "He signed an extension to his contract for another year or so and if Rangers can keep him for four or five seasons, I think they'll be doing well.

"Because there will come a time - we're all aware of the Liverpool situation and he'd love to be there - but if he has another two or three seasons at Rangers and you're going to win the league, I think Liverpool are going to look favourably on that. Klopp has done a great job down there but he has already said he's going to take a sabbatical [when he leaves Liverpool] and go away from the game.

"If Steven is successful at a massive club up here in Scotland, he may well be thinking of that, but he has to think about his staff as well. Gary McAllister and Michael Beale and there's another eight or nine backroom staff that he bought from Liverpool. If he was to go there, you can see the whole lot shifting from Glasgow to Liverpool.

"But I think he'll want to stay another few years at least. Winning the league, he'll be a legend for that but if he does it a second or third time, you'll realise he's a decent manager and that's maybe when Liverpool will look at him."

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