By Richard Parks
Craig Bellamy has predicted that it could take another three years for Rangers to topple Celtic from the Scottish summit.
The former Hoops striker dismissed the achievements of Brendan Rodgers’ side as anywhere near to their famous 1960s side despite their 55-match unbeaten domestic run and mantle of ‘Invincibles’ following their treble-winning 2016-17 campaign.
Rangers have showed encouraging signs under Caixinha in recent weeks and secured a place in the Scottish League Cup semi-finals following their Tuesday night 3-1 win at Partick Thistle.
But Bellamy insisted that the Light Blues have a long way to go before they can properly challenge Celtic as they continue to rebuild after four years in the lower leagues.
As a result, the outspoken ex-Wales international insisted that Brendan Rodgers’ side cannot be considered as a great one in Scottish terms.
“I know Celtic will say they’ve had their best run ever, but you can’t class this side with the one from the Sixties,” said Bellamy to the Scotsman.
“You can’t do that because it’s not fair and it isn’t real. Celtic need a strong Rangers.
“The days are gone where they could have an impact on Europe. The team of 2003 with Henrik Larsson in it, which got to a European final, unfortunately I just don’t believe we’re going to see that for a while.
“Not until Rangers get up there somewhere near them again and really become competition to push Celtic on.
“The challenge for the Hoops in Scotland just isn’t there anymore and it could take Rangers another three or so years to get back up there with them again.”
Rangers and Celtic will face off in the first Old Firm clash of the season on Saturday, which is likely to provide a reliable guide of the two sides’ current status.
Rodgers’ team won five of the six Old Firm matches last season, with the other a 1-1 draw at Parkhead when Clint Hill scored a last-minute equaliser.