Steven Gerrard's Rangers appointment 'won't change' Celtic approach - Maloney

Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers
Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers will go head to head next season

Celtic coach Shaun Maloney says Rangers' appointment of Steven Gerrard will make little difference in the champions' approach to next season.

Maloney believes Brendan Rodgers will be unfazed by the prospect of a greater challenge from across the city.

"Our preparations for next season will already have started a month, two, three months ago," said Maloney.

"I don't think that will have changed regardless of who Rangers appointed as their manager, and their signings."

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard officially takes charge at Ibrox on 1 June, but has already added midfielder Scott Arfield to his squad as he attempts to improve on two third-place finishes since Rangers' promotion to the top flight.

And Maloney admits the former Burnley man will be a strong acquisition.

The former Wigan midfielder told BBC Scotland: "I always thought he was a good player when I played against him.

"He's been very good for Burnley for a period of years now. On the face of it, it looks like a decent signing."

Shaun Maloney and Steven Gerrard in action for Wigan and Liverpool
Shaun Maloney has faced Steven Gerrard at both club and international level

Celtic could win an unprecedented 'double-treble' should they beat Motherwell in Saturday's Scottish Cup final, after lifting their seventh league title in a row.

However Maloney, who is now the under-20s coach at Celtic Park after hanging up his boots last summer, says the club are already preparing for the challenge of holding on to their championship next season.

Rodgers' side lost to both Hibs and Aberdeen after the top-six split, while the gap between first and second was reduced from 30 points in 2016/17 to nine this season, and Maloney warns they have more to worry about than their Old Firm rivals.

"Seven in a row is a really excellent feat," he said. "The players should be very proud.

"We obviously need to kick on. As a team I'm sure we're looking for next season already, and that's where the challenge will come.

"Before the manager came in you couldn't imagine how well it would go in terms of the trophies won. If that can happen (the 'double-treble) it would be beyond what we all expected, but we've got a tough match to come.

"It was a really good challenge for Aberdeen to finish second. They had a tough season, a tough patch in terms of their manager, some of the media things, and obviously they weren't sure if he was going to stay.

"Hibs have had a brilliant season. The challenge is always there."

Top Stories