Ally McCoist believes how Rangers perform at the back in the new season will have more bearing on whether they can end Celtic’s run of domestic dominance and prevent them from winning a record-breaking 10th consecutive Scottish title than how they fare in attack.

The potential sale of Alfredo Morelos to Lille is causing fans of the Ibrox club concern as the Colombian is currently their only fit striker and their Premiership campaign gets underway on Saturday when they take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie.  

But McCoist was of the opinion that their erratic defensive displays were to blame for their challenge unravelling in the second half of last season and has warned if there is any repeat of those failings going forward then their prospects of success are slim. 

“You’ve got to look at the pre-Christmas form,” he said. “If you’re looking after that, there’s not a lot of hope, let’s be honest about it. You hope they have the same form that they did in first half of last season, because their form after that was not up to scratch, was not title winning form.  

 “The hope that Rangers have, quite simply, is the form they had up to that. They’ve got to not only get back to that, they’ve got to sustain it over the full season. That’s the hope the Rangers fans have, that they can sustain that form.”

The four clear sheets that Rangers have kept against Lyon, Nice, Motherwell and Coventry City in past fortnight as they have geared up for their opening league encounter has given McCoist hope.

“I am loath to get carried away with pre-season results,” he said. “I don’t care who you are playing, whether it is Marseille or Brechin City, they are pre-season games for a reason and that is to get your boys prepared for the opening game of the season.

“But the clean sheets were very important because that is how you build up relationships between centre backs and your defence. It has been encouraging.  I just felt last year at centre back we weren’t really sure who was turning out, whether it was (Connor) Goldson, (George) Edmundson, (Nikola) Katic, (Filip) Helander.

“The two full-backs (Borna Barisic and James Tavernier) were absolutely excellent going forward, do not have a problem with them going forward. But I think Steven probably had a wee word with them regarding defensive duties as well. As I say, it is vitally important. If Rangers can get back to the solid unit which they have been pre-season then it bodes well for them for the season.”

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