New Rangers manager Steven Gerrard insists he cannot allow himself to be obsessed with catching Celtic as there is too much work for him to do at Ibrox.
The former Liverpool captain met up with his full squad for the first time as they returned for pre-season training on Friday.
His priority is to get them fit for his debut Ladbrokes Premiership campaign and he said that, and not closing last season’s 12-point gap to their Old Firm rivals, was his focus.
“I think for me it is important not to be obsessed with Celtic. I have to sort Rangers out,” he told Press Association Sport after being named as World Cup ambassador for Budweiser, who are offering fans a free beer if England win the tournament in Russia.
“There are things we need to improve on and my focus is on Rangers.
“Brendan (Rodgers, Celtic manager and his former boss at Liverpool) sent me a message just after the announcement and we exchanged a few messages.
“I think it is very disrespectful just to focus on one team in the league, especially when you finish third (behind Aberdeen) and Hibernian were breathing down your neck as well.
“There are some good teams in the league but for me I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I was focusing on the other teams.
“Obviously there will be a time and a place to focus on those teams when we come up against them but right now my priority is Rangers and trying to improve certain things about Rangers so I can take the challenge to everyone.”
Gerrard will face Celtic in his fourth match of the campaign, making his debut at Aberdeen after the fixtures were released today.
But first on the agenda is pre-season where he will finally get to know his squad, having already met some of them during the summer, when they fly out to a Spanish training camp on Sunday.
Recruitment is already well under way with Croatian defender Nikola Katic and Brighton centre-back Connor Goldson this week added to the permanent signings of Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield, goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Jamie Murphy.
Gerrard also returned to former club Liverpool for a loan deal for youngster Ovie Ejaria.
“I bumped into some players on holiday so I am ahead of the game in terms of meeting them and I’ve spoken to some players on the phone,” he said.
“In terms of changes the ball is already rolling, we have targets we are trying to bring in. The work has already begun and I am excited to get going.
“We’re trying to add some personnel to help the current players who are there and yet my priority is the fitness levels in pre-season.
“I need to get the team fitter and stronger and ready for a big campaign. In terms of adding people to that, it will happen.”