CELTIC legend John Hughes insists Sevco Rangers are kidding themselves if they believe the gap is closing between the Glasgow clubs.
Big Yogi reckons Brendan Rodgers’ team “humiliated” Steven Gerrard’s new-look Ibrox outfit at Parkhead at the weekend.
Hughes, the Hoops’ seventh-highest scorer in history with 189 goals, said: “It was 1-0 going on 5-0 for my old club. If anyone in Govan is happy with that performance I can only say they are easily pleased.
“I thought I was watching a rerun of the Hamilton Accies game last week. For me, Steven Gerrard didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in his players.
“They came into the game on the back of a lot of hype. But they produced next to nothing in an attacking sense at Celtic Park.
“Gerrard was content to see his team sit in and look for scraps as they attempted to get something in breakaways.
“If poor old Pedro Caixinha had set up his team in that manner he would have been slaughtered.
CHEERS…John ‘Yogi’ Hughes with his co-author and friend Alex Gordon who helped to write the Celtic legend’s autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare’.
“Okay, I know Gerrard is new to management and he might have been a bit fearful of his team being turned over in such an important game.
“He had gone into it on an unbeaten run of 12 games and had done well to reach the Europa League group stages.
“And he deserves praise for that, but I think the way he set out his team against Celtic, he was obviously making sure they weren’t going to get hammered.
“Brendan’s side were totally dominant and I thought they humiliated their opponents. Last April, Celtic won 5-0 with the same line-up. This time around they settled for 1-0, but, with a little bit of good fortune, they could have had five or six.
“When you hit the crossbar three times with the scoreline still 0-0, you can be forgiven for thinking this might not be your day. I’ve played in games against Rangers where we have had the bulk of the possession and come off with just a draw or, even worse, a defeat.
“You are left wondering: ‘What on earth just happened there?’ When James Forrest smacked the woodwork, I thought: ‘That’s just unfortunate’.
“And then seconds later, Mikael Lustig planted a header on just about the same spot and again you reckon: ‘Okay, that’s unlucky, too’.
“However, when Olivier Ntcham fired in a shot and Allan McGregor got a hand to it to send it onto the crossbar for a third time, you really do feel the fates are conspiring against you.
“Thankfully, Ntcham got the only goal of the game, but Celtic shouldn’t have been waiting for more than a hour to get the breakthrough strike.”
PENALTY No.1…John Hughes sends Rangers keeper Billy Ritchie the wrong way for the first goal in the 1965 League Cup Final.
Hughes added: “I like Leigh Griffiths and I was happy to see him coming on for Odsonne Edouard. I’m a fan of the Frenchman, too, but I don’t see him as an out-and-out goalscorer such as Leigh or, for that matter, Moussa Dembele.
“Odsonne really should have scored with his first-half header. It was beautifully-constructed and set up by Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor and a natural goalscorer would have headed the ball down or, at least, across the keeper to the opposite corner.
“He knocked it into the area that was comfortable for McGregor and, to be fair, he did well to push it away for a corner-kick.”
Former fans’ favourite Hughes also reckoned the veteran Ibrox shotstopper was extremely fortunate to still be on the pitch at the time.
He said: “I see Gerrard is complaining about the referee not blowing for a foul when Tom Rogic and Ryan Jack clashed in the lead-up to Celtic’s goal.
“As it happens, I didn’t think there was a foul at the time and I watched it later on TV and I am still convinced there was no free-kick.
“But did the Ibrox manager miss his keeper’s sneaky kick at Kristoffer Ajer? That didn’t look accidental to me.
“McGregor got lucky on that occasion. Even more so, when TV pictures highlighted the fact referee Willie Collum was looking at the incident at the time. How that is not an immediate red card is beyond comprehension.
“If that is not penalised retrospectively, the game is in trouble. It’s a licence for players to kick each other off the ball.
PENALTY No.2…Big Yogi slams the second past Ritchie as the Hoops go on to take the silverware at Hampden.
“I am not an advocate of match officials reaching for a red card for every little niggly foul, but on occasions such as this I don’t believe there is an alternative. Sorry, but if you indulge in such misdeeds, you have to accept the consequences, as simple as that.”
Hughes insisted Celtic are in good shape as they aim for their eighth successive Premiership crown.
He added: “The transfer window has been and gone and Brendan now knows who he has to work with until the January market arrives.
“There’s a lot of quality there and Brendan is a top-class manager, so I can’t see any reason for the team being derailed.
“Losing out in the Champions League group stages is a disappointment, of course, but there is the Europa League to look forward to and there’s every chance Celtic can be in Europe beyond Christmas.
“They might miss the presence of Dembele up front, but if Griffiths and Edouard can stay clear of injury, they’ll get their fair share of goals.
“And there are always the likes of Ntcham, McGregor, Forrest and Rogic to pitch in and Scott Sinclair might be worth an extended run, too.
“Gerrard, despite bringing in 15 players, does not possess anything like that sort of quality, so I really don’t see that gap closing any time soon.”