Rangers face the “horrendous” pressure of trying to protect the history of their club’s greats this season, says former Celtic captain Paul Lambert.
Steven Gerrard’s side are bidding to deny Celtic the unprecedented feat of a 10th successive Scottish title.
Lambert helped Celtic halt Rangers’ run at nine in a row in 1998, and rates it the “hardest title” of his career.
“There’s a lot more pressure on trying to stop it than winning it,” he told the Scottish Football podcast.
“If you don’t win it, people are really disappointed, but you’ve still got nine and everybody’s the same.
“But if Rangers lose 10 in a row now, the history of Rangers is gone. That’s the pressure we had.
“John Clark, Billy McNeill, Bertie Auld, Ronnie Simpson, Jock Stein, Jimmy Johnstone, all those great guys… did you want to be known for losing their history?”
Lambert highlighted Celtic’s momentum and stability in backing them to successfully chase down championship number 10.
And he says the mental strength of Rangers manager Gerrard and his players will be key to sustaining a challenge.
Rangers finished nine points adrift in Gerrard’s first season and were 13 behind with nine games to play when last term was curtailed.
“If Steven doesn’t know pressure, it will come now,” former Scotland midfielder Lambert added. “The Rangers fans will make it a furnace of a place if they don’t win.
“The Celtic pressure will be an enjoyable one. The Rangers pressure is going to be horrendous. It’s not the Rangers guys’ ability, it’s in the brain. Mentally can they handle it?
“Chasing a title is incredibly tough when your rivals are a good bit away from you. If you can’t handle that Rangers crowd baying for you to win every game to stop your oldest rivals taking away your history, players can capitulate in front of 50,000. They don’t want the ball because they’re scared.”