Rangers are currently competing across three fronts, sitting second in the Scottish Premiership, through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.
However, as things stand, the 2021-22 campaign remains trophyless with Rangers having missed out on the first silverware of the season following defeat to Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final.
The defending champions are three points behind in the title race with seven matches remaining and Hateley insists his former club must beat Celtic this weekend to keep their season on track.
“Rangers are in a place right now where it looks like it could be a great season or a disaster of a season,” Hateley told BETDAQ. “They’ve not won anything yet. They’ve lost the League Cup, which Celtic have already won. The importance of winning a championship probably outweighs anything, especially with the Champions League that comes with winning that this year, the financial rewards that come with it, and what that then takes away from the runner-up (next season). It’s vitally important to win the league but as every Celtic or Rangers fan will tell you, it’s very important to win every trophy. So this game against Celtic is massive, it’s very, very big. Especially this season.”
Hateley won 11 major honors during his time with Rangers, including six league titles, and has enough experience to predict that this weekend’s fixture could decide the championship.
“The fixture is 100% pivotal to the title race,” he added. “The congestion for the season that Rangers are having now, especially with this month of April coming up – Celtic have (currently) got three games, Rangers have got five . There’s two Old Firm games and two high-profile Europa League games against Braga, so it’s a key time now for Rangers and their squad. Giovanni (van Bronckhorst) will have seen and studied his squad; he’s going to have to dig deep.”
Hatelely has also made a case for Aaron Ramsey to face Celtic as he backed the midfielder to have a major say in the final weeks of the season after he earned his first start – and bagged his first goal – for the club in the 2-1 win over Dundee before the international break, before going on to star for Wales in their 2-1 win over Austria in the World Cup play-off semi-final.
“Rangers need to win, without a shadow of a doubt,” he said. “Celtic have got key players coming back in for the run-in, which is always key. But at Rangers, Aaron Ramsey has started his first 90 minutes (in the league) in the last game and had a big impact on the Wales v Austria result too. He’s coming into terrific form and fitness. It’s these key things that you need; you need all your players fit and available. It’s going to be well balanced with players coming back for both teams. Aaron Ramsey is a big-game player. Hopefully he’ll be bang in tune for the run-in.
“I’m always going to back Rangers, especially playing at home. I’ve seen enough of when their top players come to the party – I’m talking about (Alfredo) Morelos, (Ryan) Kent, Ramsey now, (Connor) Goldson is in form, Allan McGregor is making saves a young keeper would be making. If all these players turn up on the day and perform, as they’ve shown in Europe in big games, Rangers can beat anybody. But they need all their top stars at the party.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.