ARCHIE Knox must have thought he had tuned in to a re-run of an Old Firm game from the Nine-In-A-Row years by mistake when he switched on Sky Sports on Saturday to watch his old club Rangers play Celtic.

The Ibrox outfit were battered by their Parkhead rivals from kick-off until the half-time whistle and only an inspired display by their goalie prevented them from falling behind.

Yet, having withstood the visitors’ onslaught, they then snatched a goal against the run of play and recorded a narrow victory that extended their lead at the top of the league table.

That was so often how the Glasgow derby matches went back in the 1990s when Knox was assistant manager to Walter Smith in Govan.

Smith was fortunate to have one of Scotland’s greatest ever keepers, arguably the greatest ever, at his disposal during that halcyon era, the peerless Andy Goram.

However, Knox believes that Allan McGregor, who was exceptional for Steven Gerrard’s side in a 1-0 victory that moved them 19 points clear of their city rivals in the Premiership, is every bit as good as his legendary predecessor.

He feels that McGregor will be the key man for the Glasgow giants in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, both on and off the park, as they try to avoid the collapses that have ended their Scottish title bids in the last two seasons.

“It is going Rangers’ way this season, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “What matters now is how they handle the next stage. They have to make sure they don’t lose any games for the remainder of the season.

“They certainly have the capability to do that – but it is the mentality which is important now and which will decide what happens.

“They have got plenty of players to call on. Both (Scott) Arfield and (Ryan) Jack were out at the weekend and they coped without them. They aren’t desperate to find another striker or midfield player in the window. Their mindset is what is vital now.

“When the Rangers team I was involved with had to produce they always performed. But we had really top players. This is a totally different team. They don’t have a Brian Laudrup or a Paul Gascoigne or even an Ally McCost among them. We had players who operated at a different level.

“Do I see the same sort of mentality in these players? Not in all of them. But I do in McGregor. He is the most dominant personality of the lot. He has experienced it all before. He will be the one driving them on in the second half of the season and making sure they don’t slip up.”

Goram credited the renowned English goalkeeping coach Alan Hodgkinson, who he worked with at both Rangers and Scotland during his heyday, with elevating his game to a higher level.

Knox revealed how the Ibrox club have the late Sheffield United great, who he first encountered when he was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in the 1980s, to thank for McGregor as well.

“Allan was just a schoolboy when Walter and I were at Rangers,” he said. “We always made a point of watching youth team and schoolboy games so we could see the young ones who were coming through.

“But Alan Hodgkinson kept on and on at us about McGregor. He was the one who kept saying to us ‘we need to hang on to this guy’. He was convinced he had the capability to be a really top goalkeeper even when he was a kid.

“He did exactly the same thing when I was at Manchester United before that. He was the one who pointed us in the direction of Peter Schmeichel. He went over to see him play in Denmark and told Alex he should go for him.

“Alan helped to make Andy Goram the goalkeeper he became. There were no half measures with Alan. Goram used to get angry if he ever lost a goal in training. He would give the defenders stick if he thought they hadn’t blocked a shot or done their job. He also made sure Rangers signed Allan McGregor.”

Knox can see many similarities between Goram and McGregor, who isn’t averse to giving his rearguard a rollicking if he is unhappy with their play, and is confident the latter can help Rangers end an agonising 10 year wait to win the league in the coming months.

“Allan is 38 now,” he said. “To be playing at the level that he is at that age really takes a bit of doing. You have to keep yourself in really top condition to be playing for a team like Rangers and pulling off the sort of saves that he did on Saturday at this stage in his career.

“Alan did the same thing against Celtic on Saturday as Andy used to do years ago. I can still remember the penalty save he pulled off against (Pierre) Van Hooijdonk (in a 1-0 win for Rangers at Parkhead in 1996). But there were so many other phenomenal moments from him in Old Firm games.

“It is difficult to choose between Alan and Andy. They have both stood up in the big games. I can’t recall any blunders they have made. They have confidence in themselves and that is so important. Allan is one of the best goalkeepers around.”