Gerrard: Rangers have eradicated their 'fear' of Celtic
The Rangers boss is anticipating a 'close encounter' when the sides meet at Ibrox.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has said he felt fans and players were afraid of Celtic when he arrived at the club.
The sides meet at Ibrox in Sunday for the first Old Firm derby of the season and both teams have a 100% record in the league so far and have sealed Europa League qualification.
Gerrard feels his side are a match for their city rivals now but revealed that he felt things had changed dramatically over the last year.
"I think when I first came in there was a fear of Celtic," he said. "The supporters, and I also think some of the players, feared these fixtures.
"Over the course of the last 12 months we've proved that it's no longer the case and on our day we're a good match for Celtic so I predict another close encounter.
"It's a game we're really looking forward to."
The manager believes the fear was down to a difference in spending power and the fact that Celtic had been on top at a time when rangers were working their way up from League 2.
"This club has had a tough time," he said. "It's been down the leagues, it's been back up. Celtic have continued to have Champions League money and continued to strengthen and bolster the squad.
"It's been a game of catch-up and the gap was huge.
"It was always going to take time to close that gap. But I think the Christmas fixture last year when we beat them 1-0 lifted a lot of fear and gave us a lot of confidence and belief that if we hit the right level of performance then we're a match for anyone."
Beating Legia Warsaw to reach the Europa League group stage has been a welcome boost to Rangers but Gerrard said he didn't expect to be given extra funds to spend before the transfer window closes on Monday.
"We did a lot of business in the summer," he said. "Just because we qualified doesn't mean the board are at the front door with a bag full of money for me.
"Sometimes you have to realise that they gave us the support before last night to try to put us in the position to try to qualify.
"It doesn't mean we go knock on the door for more."
And while he expects some fringe players to leave the club before the deadline, he insisted that any potential suitors for his star names had missed the boat.
"None of my (top) players will be going out the door," Gerrard said. "It's too late.
"We gave everyone world wide enough notice and told them all our players have a price.
"But we also made it pretty clear that nothing would be happening in the last week of the window. I was clear and fair on that.
"The reason is because the replacements that we work on behind the scenes just in case, I think it would be virtually impossible to get them out the door of their clubs this late.
"We'd leave ourselves in a really vulnerable position if we were to let one of our best players go now."