Life at Rangers is very much ‘You are only as good as your last game’.
At our club that’s the only way it can be and it is the only way it should be. We can be absolutely delighted with the league performance and the triumphant way we have went about the league season, equally we can be deeply disappointed about the way we have given up two huge opportunities at cup competition.
This team deserve huge plaudits for the way they have performed in the league this season and that should get huge praise from everyone. But what the cup exits should do is stop any naive thoughts that we are the finished article or in an untouchable place.
The cups have highlighted we still have a bit to go but that doesn’t mean we are a poor side, far from it. Rangers are Champions for a reason and now we need around three additions of quality to really push the team on.
Each season the team has improved and evolved under the management team, this season we were able to take the ultimate step and become Champions. But cup performance show we need further strengthening going forward and as ever the gaffer was truthful in admitting as such.
Defensively Rangers are strong in depth and quality. Connor Goldson’s contract situation remains the only question but I am hopeful the club will sort that out in the coming weeks. We have a strong goalkeeper and deputy but it is the midfield which needs the most surgery.
It came as no surprise that with Ryan Jack a long term absentee, again, we have come unstuck. The level of unseen work he puts in, combined with tackling and interceptions has been a real loss to the middle of the park, it has proved we don’t have an able replacement for him. Couple that with the injury problems of Scott Arfield then the suspension of Bongani Zungu, we have been short. That was highlighted in the cup game especially when there was no possible change.
When St Johnstone picked the ball up in the final minute, a midfielder willing to sacrifice himself for a yellow card would have nipped any problems, that were forthcoming, instantly. That is the side of this Rangers team that we are badly missing and it is the middle of the park Rangers must concentrate on.
Rangers need to improve that area with two real quality additions that are ready and first team level. Steven Davis has been remarkable and has carried the team but he will need help going forward. Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield will again be vital but both need to get over their injury problems to provide suitable depth to the squad.
Further forward and the team is lop sided with no one really grabbing that right hand side forward position. In recent weeks Joe Aribo has done well and it’s a position I like him in. Kemar Roofe had a very good six week spell in October/November time but that form wasn’t sustained and since his return he has been off the pace considerably.
That goes back to what I said at the very start, at Rangers there is no time to rest or drop our standards and naturally this has happened. Players, like Kemar Roofe and others it is certainly not just him, need to realise that they have to keep the standards up every game. But it is that right sided attacking position that is the last position in the team we need to improve on after the midfield.
Those three key areas could really take this team on further and that strength in depth is what is needed as you get deeper into the season, that’s what we have missed.
Rangers have simply run out of steam or equally allowed the intensity within our game to drop. It’s a natural reaction to winning the league in the first week of March and the fixture calendar going from so intense to sporadic matches. It has been a similar problem in previous years so that extra quality is required to ensure we stay as champions and continue to improve.
I don’t see a huge turnaround in the squad but I do believe there will be a decent amount of work done. Some players will leave as we implement our ‘player sales’ plan and that money will go towards the club and the squad. Some players will add depth to the squad also as we strengthen our depth and quality.
But it is vital we kick on and continue to improve. We should never be content with our situation and always look to get better. The cup performance can be the perfect catalyst for that. I think a number of circumstances have simply caught up with us but there is absolutely no excuse that it is an opportunity missed and that we all badly wanted a cup competition success.
However the ultimate prize was always the title and that has been achieved in record time. Sure this stings at the moment but that is temporary pain which will be eradicated come trophy presentation day in a few weeks time.
This season is very much job done and very much a huge success but at Rangers we must always strive to keep on improving. We now have three games to win and ensure we finish with as many points on the board as possible and there is still achievements there if we really want them.
It’s twenty points for a reason and this team certainly aren’t written off on the back of one result, it simply needs to continue to evolve as it has done every year under the management. In a few weeks we will be lifting the major trophy in the country as league Champions. That’s the reality, yet we are all striving to be better and more dominant.
If this isn’t a great season then I look forward to one that is with real excitement.
That is life at Rangers, Champions of Scotland and still determined to improve further.