SCOTTISH SILVERWARE: IS THIS THE YEAR FOR RANGERS?
Steven Gerrard's Rangers currently sit top of the league undefeated. So, with nine wins from 11, could this be Rangers year?
We take a look at why Rangers are succeeding so far.
Rangers have had an impressive transfer window so far. Letting go of the ‘deadwood’, with the likes of Matt Polster and Jon Flanagan leaving the club permanently. Long time servant of the club Andy Halliday was also let go, along with talented midfielder Greg Docherty as well as Jamie Murphy, Ross McCrorie and Jake Hastie leaving on loan.
Many expected enigmatic striker Alfredo Morelos to depart the Ibrox in the summer, but Rangers have arguably done their best business by keeping him in Glasgow. While he has not completely hit the ground running this season, the Colombian will more than likely come good as the season goes on.
In terms of incomings, Gerrard has done a good job of strengthening the weaknesses that halted Rangers title charge last season. The permanent signing of Ianis Hagi was an indicator of how Gerrard and co planned to go about their business in the summer window and they followed that up by regaining the services of experienced goalscorer Jermain Defoe. The arrival of Leon Balogun has certainly shored up the backline along with goalkeeper John McLaughlin, both on a free transfer.
Not satisfied with just that, Rangers brought out the cheque-book to secure the signatures of forwards Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten who will bolster the side’s frontline. The loan signing of Bongani Zungu from Ligue One side Amiens will provide some depth in the midfield for Gerrard, who will be happy with the business done in this summer window.
More of the same
Around this time last season, Rangers had only lost one game, which was a 2-0 defeat to Celtic. That form has stuck around for the start of this season, but Gerrard’s side are yet to lose in the 11 league games they have played.
They have continued their early season form which has them leading the title race, comfortably beating sides and barely giving them a sniff at their own goal. Rangers defence has always been a strong point with Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun marshalling the backline excellently, and with Filip Helander and Nikola Katic backing them up, there is a lot of depth in the central defence area.
James Tavernier took a lot of slack towards the end of last season, but has bounced back this season with the captain putting in strong performances and becoming one of the Gers most prolific players in front of goal, with the right-back sitting on five goals so far, making him the second top goal scorer in the SPL.
Rangers attacking options have also remained strong, with the likes of Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi terrorising defences with their trickery. As previously mentioned, Morelos is yet to hit the heights he hit last season, but with the additions of Roofe and Itten, the options are there if the Colombian struggles to find the net.
Can they keep it up?
What cost Rangers last season were defeats to Hearts, Kilmarnock and Hamilton which all came later in the season before COVID halted the league. Regardless of Celtic’s relatively poor form, Gerrard can not allow his side to become comfortable, as that is when the Bhoys will overtake them with their league winning experience.
It would be unrealistic to expect Rangers to win every week, but if they want to stop Celtic winning ten in a row then they must stop losing to the lower sides in the league. With the added depth, Rangers should have a more balanced squad to juggle both the league and the Europa League.
2010 was the last time Rangers lifted the Scottish Premier League, but a lot has changed since then. For the first time since the club almost went bankrupt and were sent to the Scottish League Two, Rangers have a team capable of toppling Celtic and winning the league.