FORMER Celtic star Kris Commons reckons the roof at Ibrox is “beginning to creak” following the departure of Steven Gerrard to Aston Villa last week.
The ex-Scotland international playmaker tipped the Govan team to retain the title after the Liverpool legend had led the side to their first championship success in a decade last season.
The Hoops’ inexplicable collapse allowed Gerrard to prevent the Parkhead club’s quest for a historic tenth successive flag, a failure that cost Neil Lennon his job in February only two days after an unacceptable 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall.
Commons believed his old club could be caught cold after a summer of upheaval with a new manager, Ange Postecoglou, arriving, 12 news players being recruited while key men such as skipper Scott Brown, Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham headed for the exit.
However, the one-time Hoops fans’ favourite is having a rethink of the destination of the Premier League crown.
Commons admitted: “I genuinely believe all bets are off in terms of how the title race will pan out.
“I said at the start of the season that I believed Rangers would win it again and I was consistent with that, despite the improvements made by Celtic.
“But the landscape has now changed dramatically. The roof hasn’t caved in at Ibrox, but it’s beginning to creak.
“Steven Gerrard and his entire coaching staff have upped sticks and left. Coming hot on the heels of the club posting an annual loss of £23.5million, suddenly things don’t look so rosy.”
Commons, writing in his Daily Mail column, continued: “You can’t underestimate just what a loss the likes of Michael Beale will be. Gerrard spoke countless times in the past about how he regards him as an outstanding coach.
“It was Beale who was the brains of the operation. He drilled the team into a certain shape and got them playing excellent football.
“Will the new manager be able to achieve something similar? Whether it’s Giovanni van Bronckhorst or someone else, there’s no guarantee of immediate success.
“Any new manager coming into a club usually takes some time to get their ideas across. In this instance, though, they have to come in and hit the ground running.
“That’s a tough ask. It will also be a huge test of character for the players, because there’s no doubt Gerrard’s exit will have ripped the heart out of some of them.
“As captain, James Tavernier spoke last week of his respect and admiration for Gerrard. I’ve no doubt that’s a feeling shared throughout the dressing room.”
Commons, who was signed from Derby County during Lennon’s first managerial stint at Celtic in January 2011, added: “Gerrard will have been a massive draw for a lot of the Rangers players. For instance, look at the situation with Glen Kamara.
“Kamara signed a new long-term deal earlier this season which ties him to the club until 2025. And fair play to him, because he’s been a revelation since joining.
“But would he have been so quick to sign a new deal had he known that Gerrard would be leaving a few months later? I doubt it.
“The situations with Connor Goldson, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos will also be interesting. I don’t see Gerrard coming back for them, but I’m also not sure they will be keen to stick around at Ibrox, either.”