Leon Balogun knows what Rangers must do to end Celtic dominance as he makes 'pressure' confession

Rangers defender Leon Balogun
-Credit: (Image: Sky Sports News)

Leon Balogun admits Rangers buckled under the pressure of a title race last season after leapfrogging Celtic.

Gers overturned a seven-point lead at the top of the table before suffering a shocking collapse of form at the business end, blowing their chances of a Treble. Philippe Clement is now under pressure to stop the Hoops from winning four-in-a-row as Brendan Rodgers' side target their 55th title.

And experienced defender Balogun, 35, insists everyone at Ibrox is determined to put things right this term after admitting there has to be a change of mentality at the club. Speaking after the Premiership fixtures were announced, he told Sky Sports: "It's something we have to work on throughout pre-season, to have that shift in mentality and build more confidence.

"That's a process that we need to work on every day by repetition mainly, and gaining confidence in what you're doing. Obviously, pre-season friendlies are a vital part of that. Hearts is a very good way to start the season to see how far we've come and what we still have to do throughout the season."

When it was put to him that Rangers couldn't handle the pressure in the final weeks of the campaign, he admitted: "Probably that's the most vital part to look at. We did give them a good race in the end, there was a title race and I think it's fair to say that both teams weren't at their best throughout the whole season which probably made it that tight at the end.

"But again, they had that edge over us and that's what we need to focus on specifically. It might be pressure, mentality, confidence... but whatever it is we have to make sure we get this out of the system in pre-season. The earlier the better and then off to a good start."

Rangers failed to beat Celtic in any of their five meetings last season and Balogun accepts that must change. He said: "If you want to be the champion, you have to beat your rival. It was a race between us two and there was a stumble. We have to make sure there's not another one this season."

Clement's men will be forced to play their opening home games away from Ibrox due to delays to the Copland Stand project. However, Balogun isn't ready to use that as an excuse as he declared his confidence that Rangers can win anywhere they play.

He said: "Ibrox is what it is, the fans are going to travel wherever we go. It's out of our control really so we can just focus on what we have to do on the pitch, whether that's at Ibrox or anywhere else, we have to put in performances and that's the only thing we can really focus on. It would help, but at the end of the day it's about what we do on the pitch and then it doesn't really matter where we play."