Rangers reignite the domestic challenge

After the Livingston result last Sunday it seemed almost inconceivable that Rangers could be facing an enormous task, even this early, if they failed to beat Hearts at Ibrox on Sunday past.

Defeat to Hearts was unthinkable but yet if we had have failed to deliver a result we could have been Eleven points behind with only eight games played.

The squad were heavily criticised on this blog last week and all over social media. I always try to be fair but I don’t think it would have been correct to try and defend what was an abysmal result last weekend.

Thankfully the squad responded spectacularly with a fantastic result on Thursday and a brilliant performance (in spells) on Sunday to dismantle the leagues last unbeaten side Hearts.

It’s fair to say that we have given our domestic push a bit of a shot in the arm and we have to ensure that we continue this now going forward without anymore slip ups. The league is close in terms of 3 pts from second to sixth and only 5 pts to first. I have been impressed by Kilmarnock, Hibs and the early form of Hearts. Whilst I only care about my own club, that goes without saying, a strong league only benefits our game and stops any one club galloping away into an early unassailable lead.

That has benefited us whilst we have stumbled as all the other clubs have cut each others throats and will continue to do so throughout the season. What we must do is take our formidable home form into our away ties and we will be looking a whole lot better.

At Ibrox we are a different animal and the intensity, passing movement and direction of the team is frightening at times. We certainly fancy our chances against anyone and with Ibrox rocking we have battered a few teams so far. Rapid said theirselves they couldn’t cope with our tempo and intensity throughout the ninety minutes.

Players are now beginning to excel and the management influence on players is clearly evident. Alfredo Morelos is really growing and becoming the player we know he can be. Some useful idiots in the ‘media’ take every opportunity to have a go at Alfredo or bizarrely ‘Alfie-Mo’ (What?!) but when they speak it really is a case of ‘ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise’. Alfie is a tremendous striker and only young, he is improving every game positionally and linking up far better than before. He looks confident in front of goal and his finishing on Thursday and Sunday was simply delightful.

Likewise, Ryan Kent is becoming unstoppable on the wing. Free flowing and full of confidence the rise in his performance has been remarkable, when he gets the ball we are now genuinely on the edge of our seats. Couple that with the returning form of Daniel Candeias and our front three look formidable during games. Full of pace, tricks and confidence if they can keep that form together we are going to be very hard to stop.

It’s also been a welcome return to the starting eleven for Jon Flanagan who has been exceptional since returning. What Flanagan gives you is a steely resolute performance every time, he will never shirk a 50/50 and makes those 40/60 challenges his ball every time. Those crunching tackles raises the team performance and gets the crowd going. Flanagan is everything I like in a player, gives 100% and never afraid to get stuck in. It’s no coincidence that his return to the side has coincided with better performances from Kent in front of him.

That’s what a strong squad now gives the management. Katic, Barisic and Grezda all can come in to that eleven once they return to full fitness, whilst the likes of Dorrans, Rossiter and McCrorie can also be in the mix. That’s a welcome headache for the management.

That’s the challenge now for the team, to ensure those performances become the norm and that Ibrox form becomes the match day standard no matter where we play.

Do that and we will be in with a real chance and I believe we can do it

Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise