Terry Butcher fears Celtic trophy record as Rangers face 'biggest season' in club's history

Celtic equalled Rangers' trophy record by lifting the Scottish Cup
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group)

Terry Butcher insists Rangers face the BIGGEST season in the club's history as Celtic stand on the brink of overtaking their trophy haul.

The Hoops equalled their bitter rivals' record of 118 major honours after last month's dramatic Old Firm Scottish Cup Final triumph at Hampden. It means the relentless Parkhead winning machine can shatter Gers' cherished silverware benchmark next season, with three domestic prizes up for grabs.

And if that wasn't enough to set alarm bells ringing inside Ibrox, Celts can also match Rangers' proud record of 55 titles if they get their hands on the Premiership crown for a fourth consecutive year. It's a nightmare scenario for the Light Blues that will send shivers down the spine of every supporter - including former defender Butcher.

The England legend skippered Gers to three championships and two League Cups during his trophy-laden four years in Glasgow and never thought he'd see the day when the "world's most successful club" mural at Auchenhowie would be at risk of being scrubbed.

While that self-proclaimed boast technically belongs to all-conquering Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly, who have 121 trophies to their name, Butcher confessed the prospect of Celtic surpassing Rangers' silverware haul is unthinkable.

In an exclusive interview with Football Scotland, courtesy of Free Bets, he said: "No, I never thought or even considered that. It's pretty sobering from a Rangers perspective to hear that. If anything, the squad we had under Graeme Souness and Walter Smith, they would've rolled their sleeves up and been champing at the bit to get out there in pre-season and make sure they are ready to stop Celtic's surge. It's a different era now and a different generation of players.

"That philosophy would still have an impact at a club like Rangers in terms of: 'This is it, this is the season'. If Rangers are to forge ahead, there's got to be a real shift from their point of view. I'm sure (Philippe) Clement will lay it on the line and say: 'These are the ones, this is what we've got to do and let's go and do it and make sure we're all in this together'.

"There can be no room for passengers in the Rangers squad and team this season. There's no doubt about that, they've got to stick to the script and the script has got to be a really tough one for them to make sure that they can compete even better than what they've done before because if they compete at the same level, then Celtic are going to go ahead. That would be a real concern for me as a Rangers player, you can't allow that to happen and I'm sure the Rangers fans will be saying: 'That must not happen at any cost.'"

Clement finds himself in a similar position as Steven Gerrard, who was tasked with halting Celtic from winning ten-in-a-row. The Liverpool legend duly delivered in the do-or-die season, bringing the title back to Govan for the first time in a decade, while shattering the Hoops' dreams of eternal bragging rights.

"I don't know if Clement would look at that season and what Rangers did", Butcher continued. "That was a big year and this season you have to say is probably even bigger. With the two cup competitions and the title, there are three trophies and you don't want Celtic winning a Treble in this particular year at all. For me, I wouldn't do anything else except write what's at stake on a board in the dressing room and say: 'This is the season that we have to do this and do that and let's go and do it.'

"That would be an unbelievable motivation in itself. Rangers have got to step up, there's no doubt about it. The fans will help. They'll drive Rangers home if necessary but the players have got to do it. It's a big, big season. It's the biggest season in Rangers' history - apart from maybe the Steven Gerrard thing. They focused on just the title that season in terms of stopping Celtic getting ten-in-a-row. This time, it's on all fronts. In a war, you face one country but now they are facing three. It's going to be the biggest test that Rangers have had for a long, long time."

Clement has yet to get the better of Brendan Rodgers in four meetings with Celtic, which Butcher confessed is a cause for concern. And the big Englishman stressed the importance of Rangers hitting the ground running in 2024/25, with the first Glasgow derby due to take place at Parkhead.

The former Motherwell and Inverness Caley Thistle manager added: "It's so vital for me to start the season strongly, start it really well, and then build up to the first Old Firm game. I'd have the first Old Firm game written on the board as well and say: 'That's the target to get to, that's the first hurdle, let's get to that and then we'll see where we are'. That's what I would do.

"It helps focus because players don't have a lot to think about sometimes because they have got a lot of time on their hands. It makes you focus and determined that your preparation, passion, knowledge and understanding are right. I can't wait for the season to start, I'd be at the ground doing pre-season already! It brings out the passion in you and the fans, certainly. If Rangers need any motivation, that's it. There's so much at stake. But you've got to say fair play to Celtic for winning the trophies.

"Obviously, Rangers had their financial troubles and being out of the leagues, there was a price to pay for that by dropping down and also a price to pay on the trophy front. Now, Celtic have accumulated far more trophies than Rangers have in recent years. The money side doesn't help, Celtic have all that Champions League money and winning titles as well. So, it's not a level playing field but at the same time, it's amazing what passion can do. Look at the passion of the players when Steven Gerrard was the manager and winning the league, that's what Rangers have to do."