By Tom Blackburn
Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley has claimed that winning the title is too much to ask of his old club next season.
Rangers are returning to the Scottish Premiership after a four-year absence and come up against a Celtic side who have won the last five titles.
In an interview with the Scottish Daily Record, the former Rangers front man said wrestling the title away from Celtic next season will be a huge task.
“I think it will be a big step, I really do,” Hateley said. “The importance for Rangers in their first season back should be one trophy and a European spot. That would be high up on the list.
“But I think a championship would be a big ask. Look at Hearts last season. They had a tremendous season last year after completely dominating the Championship.
“They came down and went back up with the same group of players but it still wasn’t enough to win them a championship, so it is difficult.”
Hateley – who struck 163 goals 222 games for Rangers – was speaking after the fixtures for the 2016/17 season were released on Friday morning.
The Ibrox men will open their campaign at home to Hamilton on August 6 but their trip to Celtic Park on September 10 is the stand-out early fixture.
The Blue side of Glasgow were jubilant this season when they beat the Hoops in the Scottish Cup semi-finals on penalties, and Hateley says their players must just go out and enjoy their first season back without too much expectation.
“They have to go out and enjoy it,” he told the Scottish Daily Record. “People told me in the build up to my first Old Firm game that you don’t remember it. I probably don’t remember my first two. It was a blur.
“They are fast games but that was a long time ago. I think the games have changed markedly because of the influence of a lot of foreign players now so it has diluted things.”