Rangers 'years away' from title push, says Arthur Numan

Stuart Armstrong scores
Stuart Armstrong's goal completed a 5-1 win for Celtic over Rangers

Former Rangers defender Arthur Numan believes it will take "two to three years" before the Ibrox side is in a position to challenge Celtic.

Following the 5-1 loss to Celtic last weekend, Numan says Rangers' next four fixtures, which include away trips to Aberdeen and Hearts, are "crucial".

Reigning champions Celtic are bidding for a sixth straight top-flight title.

"It will be difficult because Celtic have been playing for many years at the highest level," said Numan.

"A lot of supporters expect now [Rangers] are back in the highest division that they will compete for the league.

"With some good young, promising players, some experienced players, hopefully within two to three years' time they will be back again.

"They have a decent squad at the moment, but Celtic are a little bit stronger and you have to accept that.

"Everyone is always talking about the games against Celtic, but Aberdeen is also very difficult. The next two or three weeks will be crucial for the team - how do they cope with the 5-1 defeat?

"You have to forget it, because it doesn't help you if you have it in your mind when you play the following week. Draw a line and learn from it."

Arthur Numan and Didier Agathe
Numan (left) experienced highs and lows in the Old Firm derby

Numan's Old Firm debut was a 5-1 defeat away to Celtic, in 1998, and he can still recall the reaction of his team-mate Ian Ferguson in the dressing room afterwards.

Rangers were top of the league at the time, under manager Dick Advocaat, and recovered to secure the domestic treble that season, but Numan says the aftermath of the Old Firm defeat made him realise what the game means to people and how to handle it.

"Scott Wilson was sent off after 25 minutes and we knew it would be very difficult and we got hammered," Numan said.

"I still remember Ian Ferguson after the game, he gave us such a hard time, because we had a lot of new boys like myself, Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"He said, 'you don't have a clue what it means to get beat against Celtic'. I said, 'we lost 5-1 but we're still eight points ahead'.

"He said, 'I don't care, I'd rather beat them four times a year than win the league'.

"So it was good to have a discussion a day after about that. I realised what it really means when you play against Celtic and lose. It takes a couple of days to recover from it, because everywhere you go the people will talk to you about it, Rangers or Celtic supporters.

"The most important thing is try to move on and focus on the game the following week. You lose 5-1 but there are so many more games to play and you don't know what Celtic will do in Europe.

"That can take its toll - you're travelling, playing a lot of games and players can pick up injuries. Rangers can maybe take advantage of that."

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