Chris Sutton has revealed that he fears for Rangers and their manager, Steven Gerrard, if they fail to prevail against Celtic in Sunday’s Betfred Cup final at the national stadium. The former Parkhead striker, now a media pundit and match analyst for BT Sport, accepts that Gerrard has improved the club since he began his managerial career at Ibrox 18 months ago.

However, he also claims that the allowances which were made for him due to his inexperience last season will no longer be applicable in the current campaign, with December shaping up to be a defining month.

It got off to the worst possible start on Wednesday when Rangers threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie, falling two points behind leaders Celtic as a consequence. On Sunday Rangers will either land significant silverware for the first time or be forced to watch as Celtic secure a 10th consecutive trophy.

Young Boys Berne come to Glasgow on Thursday, when Gerrard’s team will either have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League or been eliminated. And, on December 29, the last game before the winter break sees them take on the champions at Parkhead. Should Celtic succeed on Sunday, however, Sutton believes the knock-on effect for the underdogs will be huge.

“If you were being kind you'd say you'd let Steven Gerrard get his feet under the table for a season but, when it came to it, they didn't come down the stretch last time out,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t read too much into Wednesday night’s events. You can look at it two ways; given the tightness of the title race, a point at Aberdeen isn’t disastrous, although with Rangers having been 2-0 up it probably feels that way.

“I think Gerrard has to win a trophy, though. He’s been backed financially and been allowed to spend big money and, given the amount of players he’s brought in, Rangers have to deliver.

“With the greatest respect to the Petrofac Training Cup, the last proper one they lifted was nine seasons ago so they have to stump up. I feel sorry for the manager who ends up on the wrong end of this one because both teams have set really high standards this season. Rangers still have work to do in the Europa League but they’ve raised their game there and helped Scottish football.

“As always on these occasions, it’ll be either triumph or disaster but I don’t think that the latter would be fair on the losing manager. There will be a lot of great players on show and it’s so difficult to call, especially when you chuck Willie Collum into the mix as well!

“There will be some really key contests this weekend. Will it run through Rangers’ players minds the fact that the likes of James Tavernier has been there for a number of years now and he’s been s serial loser, really? He needs to win something.”

Sutton also claims that the outgoing Ibrox chairman, Dave King, will be demanding palpable evidence of progress this weekend.

“King has backed Steven Gerrard; he’s moved heaven and earth for him,” he said. “I know he’s stepping down but he will want a return on all of this backing.

“People are asking where they are finding the money but the bottom line is Gerrard has improved the team and Rangers have players who can hurt Celtic.

“They are at the stage where it’s building nicely but it comes down to the brutal fact of winning trophies. Rangers don’t want to be known as a nearly team. Gerrard won’t want to be a nearly manager. Second is last in Glasgow – that’s always been the case.

“The margins are so tight and both managers are aware of the implications. Gerrard is on record as saying he knows he needs to win silverware and he knows four out of four would not be a good look.”

Chris Sutton was speaking to publicise BT Sport's exclusive coverage of Sunday's Betfred Cup final.