BRENDAN RODGERS admitted he would have expected a tougher challenge from Ibrox next season irrespective of Steven Gerrard getting the manager’s job.

The Celtic boss led his team to their seventh successive Premiership championship this season and to the brink of a historic double treble.

Across the city, Pedro Caixinha started the campaign in charge, but was sacked in October after a string of awful results.

Graeme Murty stepped in as caretaker, but he, too, was axed with only three games left to play after suffering consecutive 4-0 and 5-0 hammerings against Rodgers’ men.

Jimmy Nicholl moved into the dug-out and saw the team win one and draw two as they completed the term in third place with Aberdeen best of the rest for the fourth successive year. Former Northern Ireland international and Ibrox defender Nicholl also left the Govan side at the weekend.

Now Rodgers is preparing to take on his former Liverpool captain and said: “I would expect whoever was in charge at Rangers for it to be tougher.

“That’s how football works, each year it gets tougher and more difficult and that will be no different, whoever was taking charge, whether it was Steven or anyone else.

“The competition was always there and it will be next season. We have to improve again which we will do, both individually and as a team.”

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