PERHAPS Rangers won’t object too loudly to the news that the SPFL can’t find room to squeeze a winter break into this season’s fixture list.

In each of the two previous years the Ibrox side rounded off the first half of the campaign with a derby win over Celtic before jetting off for some January sunshine bolstered by the belief that they had pushed themselves into genuine title contention.

Those winter jaunts to Tenerife and then Dubai, however, proved anything but restorative. On both occasions Rangers returned home to see those trophy aspirations fizzling out amid the smirr of the Scottish spring.

Ahead of what will be another seismic season as Celtic seek their tenth successive title, Steven Gerrard maintains the winter break is a red herring when it comes to pinpointing the reasons behind his side’s collapses over the past two years.

“I don't think Dubai had anything to do with that,” he said. “The players worked hard and trained well enough. They also got a break before going to Dubai. There isn't much looking back at that trip or around that time that I would have changed.

“If you look at us falling away domestically after the break, it's a combination of things. In the final third, we stopped firing. Up until the Old Firm game [in December], we were terrific, really consistent, defending really well, looking hungry, a threat going forward and our main scorers in the team were scoring goals. That changed after January. That's the reason in certain competitions we fell away.

“Whilst that was happening we had been on an incredible European run. It's quite strange that from game to game we would perform at such a high level and then underperform days before or days after it.

“We have had time for reflection to  try and find solutions and ways to address that moving forwards, so it doesn't happen again.

“It's easier said than done to pinpoint one issue that you need to address and everything will be perfect and rosy, but the players have to be better after the break - it's as simple as that. They've got to have the hunger and produce more consistency.

“We go to places like Celtic Park, Porto and Braga and get the results against top teams and there's probably other games where we are expected to win [and didn’t]. They are probably the ones we have got to be better at and more consistent in.

“To lose at home to Hamilton 1-0 is not acceptable for this football club. Those are the situations that have set us back. Drawing away to St Johnstone with some individual errors. It's a combination of things that we need to improve and address if we are to stay the distance after that January period.”

The Rangers manager, though, did concede that his side will need to show greater mental fortitude, and will look to recruit players with that side to their personality to strengthen the squad’s resolve.

“There’s no doubt that to be successful over the course of 60 games, you have to have a certain level of physical and mental strength,” added Gerrard.

“From a mental point of view, it's something that the players will have to prepare for individually. We can help and guide them, give them support with the right people around them and make sure they are ready from a physical point of view.

"What's important is we need to get them some help, make sure that we identify the right players to come in and help us. Strengthen the 11, strengthen the squad to make us better prepared to go the distance because on two occasions now we have been consistent up to a certain point and then come away [with nothing].

"You would like to think that players learn from experiences. We've got to try and use the experiences from last season to try and drive them on and try to be mentally stronger at key areas of the season.

“We're also going to be looking to add to it, to bring more leaders into the team that will help us and push us on and improve us. There's many things we can try and do but we believe the players have the support in those areas to be prepared for whatever challenges are thrown at them.”

The dramatic drop-off in Alfredo Morelos’ form was a significant factor in Rangers failing to push Celtic all the way to the league’s early finish in March.

The Colombian scored 28 goals heading into the break but only once afterwards. Having recently become a father, Gerrard hoped the striker will hang around in Glasgow to again lead the line for Rangers next season.

“We all send our congratulations to Alfredo. I know first-hand that having a daughter in your life does change you. He looks absolutely delighted and smiling, you can see it on his face. Everyone is pleased for him.

“He's back in the city. He's spending some time with the medics at the moment because he has a couple of issues, nothing important but he still has to spend a bit more time with the medical lads then hopefully he will be back out there training with us.

"He's a fantastic footballer, he scores goals in big volumes and I am really looking forward to getting him match fit, up to speed and ready to play. I suppose what you want me to say is he going to be here next year?  That's the million dollar question. I want all my best players here, I've said it many times.

“For us to be successful, we need all our best players fit, available and out there on the pitch but you and I know that every player has his price. Will we get bids for our best players? It's quite possible and something I can't control, so it's something we are just going to have to manage going forward.”