Rangers strengthened in the summer with the arrivals of Ianis Hagi on a permanent deal along with Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe. It was another show of faith by the board and the huge offers for Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos were rejected. Jon McLaughlin arrived on a free, as did Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun.
It was sensible business and we started off with a solid pre season including a friendly tournament win in France. We were impressive in pre season and the gained clean sheets would be a sign of things to come.
All we wanted was a determination to make up for a league campaign that faltered and then was awarded unfairly via a questionable email vote. The fans had that drive, did the players?
Didn’t take too long to find out.
We were off and running with a determined win at Pittodrie followed by two straight forward wins at Ibrox. Rangers, even at this early stage, were making routine wins look exactly that. What was also striking was that we looked determined and there was a different dynamic to our play.
The team had been previously reliant on Alfredo Morelos but all of sudden we had Ryan Kent, Ianis Hagi and Joe Aribo who all seemed on their game. That extra creation was exactly what we wanted and the maturing of Connor Goldson, and James Tavernier, suddenly brought the team on even more.
Rangers were a different animal. Early draws at Livi and Hibernian didn’t derail the challenge which became unrelenting. With maximum points in every game, bar those draws and only three conceded, we stormed Parkhead and easily dismissed Celtic with a 0-2 victory.
It was the first moment that we stopped and thought, ‘yeah this might be the year’. We also didn’t do what we had done in previous years and we kicked on.
Rangers simply upped the gears. Including that victory we won 15 league games on the trot, again conceding just four goals. It is that run that undoubtedly sealed the title and it included another Old Firm victory which we achieved without a shot on target.
That run had been catapulted by a captain on a mission. James Tavernier took every question fired at him and proved all his doubters wrong. Unbelievable mental strength and let’s be honest, he was up against it somewhat but responded unbelievably well.
Kemar Roofe and Scott Arfield had a sensational spell between October to December before injury stopped them both. That form was an inkling into what a fully fit Kemar Roofe can give you. I’ve been tough on him but he is undoubted talent and has offered a superb goal return this season. His movement and link up has also helped transform Rangers frontline further.
The other outstanding thing in this team was that guys like Filip Helander, Steven Davis and Glen Kamara were a constant (at times understated) eight out of ten every week. It was that consistency that allowed others to flourish.
What also happened during that spell was Rangers met that game where everything looked like it wasn’t going our way. Facing a Motherwell ‘two banks of five’ we were 0-1 down and up against it before scoring three late goals claimed the three points.
It was a huge result because it was the test we needed to pass. It answered the question.
By the time we took three points at Easter Road, we would be just ten points and four games away from the title.
It wasn’t even February yet.
Rangers have been relentless and when the whistle blew at Tannadice the title was on it’s way back to Ibrox and back with our club. We would finish the league with five wins and two draws to seal a historic Invincible season. That included thrashing Celtic easily in an Old Firm hiding at Ibrox, Morelos shut them up and Jermain Defoe got his goal we all treasure.
It has been relentless. Every question answered from the players. We had complained we weren’t ruthless enough. There was complaints we weren’t dynamic enough, there is no plan B. There was complaints we were reliant on Alfredo Morelos.
We blew all that away with style.
Every player matured and played their part exceptionally well. During the course of the season some players had sensational spells. As above, James Tavernier propelled the club through the first six months, Scott Arfield and Kemar Roofe had an unbelievable three month spell. But the unsung heroes are the likes of Ryan Kent who has improved to the point teams fear him like they have the best wingers in our history.
Ryan Kent has went to a £25m player with a host of clubs chasing him. He has hit his stride and genuinely gets us all on the edge of our seats. He has been consistently dangerous throughout the season but, on more occasions than before, he has now been unplayable. Some of his skills delightful, but he has also now added the numbers.
What’s also brilliant as he seems wildly eccentric judging by his tastes and the fact the skipper revealed he owns two Crocodiles. I love him, what a player he is.
Throw in the numbers from Roofe, Aribo, Hagi, Morelos and all of a sudden you can see why we have been so relentless.
The rock that it has been built on though is the magnificent Connor Goldson who has played every single minute. A solid eight every single week he has provided the platform for the team superbly. The fact that both Filip Helander and Leon Balogun slotted in so seamlessly all season is a testament to how good Goldson has been.
Don’t forget, Goldson had been inconsistent before then and it’s not like he was infallible in our jersey. This season he has been like a robot. Consistency and leadership in abundance.
And behind them? Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin have been superb. Jon had a solid early start and then whenever he was called upon. But Allan? Well Allan had been utterly tremendous. He had the big saves, the outstanding moments in the Old Firms and Europe. That save in Prague was ridiculous. But it’s the games you don’t remember, the one nil wins against Hibs and St Johnstone at home where he was so solid. These are the games that won Rangers the league.
He’s been utterly relentless. But they all have. It’s been brilliant to watch. Steven Davis just strolling every game with a cigar in his mouth. Mr consistent Glen Kamara twisting and turning every game. The magnificence of Borna’s left foot or the coolness of Leon Balogun at the back. The robotic like, refuses to get beat, performance of Filip Helander. The twinkle toes of Joe Aribo who could nutmeg a mermaid in a phonebox.
Then there has been the management. Beale the tactician, Culshaw the enforcer and Gary Mac the experience.
Stevie Gerrard, what can we say about him. He’s immaculate and his hair pristine every moment, but more importantly he’s now a Ranger and he gets it. He understands the demands and he has developed.
They have all been sensational.
I love this team, I have real favourites all over the side and I think all of the support will.
Oh and yes we still have to improve and right a few wrongs. I think we lost three cup games that we should never have done so. Three games we should have won. The players have created a legacy, now they have to go on and dominate to cement it.
But this is Rangers and we should always be striving. Never settle and never get complacent.
How exciting was it to hear Steven Gerrard say he was ‘excited’ by conversations with the board on potential summer business.
Rangers are back. Back where we belong, back where we should be and back by unpopular demand.
Champions of Scotland and we are only just beginning.
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise 🔴⚪️🔵