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Three lessons learned from Rangers’ season

Ruari Macneil

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Photo: Getty Images

Things have not gone quite as expected at Rangers this season, with many fans hopeful of a strong showing in the league that would see the club test their local rivals Celtic in a bid to mount any sort of title challenge, ultimately putting a stop to the Hoops’ quest for ten league titles in a row.

Some strong performances, including a decent run under Graeme Murty which saw the club go unbeaten in six games, conjured some hope that the gap at the top of the table had begun to be bridged. However, a couple of Old Firm derbies later and Rangers’ season has crashed back to reality.

Not only is the prospect of winning silverware gone for another year, the Gers run the risk of slipping down the table and away from a second-placed finish, with Hibs, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock hot on the Ibrox side’s tail.

As the season nears its end, we look back on Rangers’ campaign and pick three major lessons learned from 2017/2018.

The majority of the squad are out of their depth in a Rangers shirt

Rangers’ current squad has a lot of quality but, as a collective, they seem incapable of meeting the demands that come with playing for a club of this magnitude.

The Scottish Cup semi-final was clear evidence that the majority of the team are incapable of putting in a spirited and passion-driven performance and, as Barry Ferguson rightly pointed out on the PLZ Soccer Show on 18 April 2018, the expectation that comes with wearing the shirt is simply ‘too heavy’ for most of them to bare.

In the coming seasons, the Gers must bring in stars who have experience of playing in front of a large crowd, and must understand that it will turn hostile at times when things do not go their way. All fans are capable of hostility, but as a player it is how you deal with that and go about transforming that from hostility to positivity that really counts.

Stop discussing the need to win titles and appoint a manager who will be allowed the chance to build

To put things into perspective, Rangers have not even spent two years back in Scotland’s top flight yet. To expect the club to be challenging Celtic, who have been developing as the country’s most dominant side since 2012, is simply ridiculous, despite the prestige of Rangers as a club.

The sheer gulf in terms of financial strength alone is enough to suggest that Rangers are far off the Hoops, therefore the comparison between the two teams should stop being made. The Gers need to concentrate on themselves and be selfish, look to build a strong spine worthy of the shirt and build some momentum under the same managerial figure, rather than continue to chop and change.

Graeme Murty has been scrutinised heavily since taking over, but it is difficult to achieve anything for a man with no prior experience as a first-team boss, inheriting a squad built by another man and given minimum funds during his first transfer window.

Had Rangers stuck with Mark Warburton, you could argue that they may be in far more stable a position now, and this is something they will need to be put right in the summer.

At times like this, use your most experienced players, rather than chase them out the club

Earlier this month, news broke that Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller had been suspended by Rangers, and that both looked unlikely to ever kick a football for the club again. To treat two club legends like this is simply astounding and, as two highly passionate individuals who clearly love the club, following a defeat and performance like the Scottish Cup semi-final, it is understandable that the duo were irate.

Having the likes of Miller and Wallace on the pitch may not have added a wealth of quality, but in derby games it is experience of the big stage that often gets you through. Miller knows better than anybody what it means to play for the badge and would have undoubtedly given his all, and that in itself should have been enough to inspire the rest of the XI to put in a slightly more spirited performance compared to the embarrassing display that followed.

Rangers may not have won that semi-final with Miller in the starting line-up, but you can be sure the striker would not have allowed such an abysmal performance to be played out had he been on the pitch.

Instead of utilising a player of such experience, the Gers have gone the opposite way and cast him out, which seems absurd when the club have been crying out for characters and leadership within the dressing room.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Rangers

Steven Gerrard tempting Lucas Leiva to Rangers would be huge coup

The Brazilian midfielder is being linked with a move to Glasgow for a second summer.

Josh Kerr

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Lucas Leiva
Photo: Getty Images

When Steven Gerrard was unveiled as the new Rangers boss over a fortnight ago, fans finally believed they may have found the man to rekindle the ambition and hunger that had been lost at the club in recent years.

The former Liverpool legend has already been linked with brining a number of high profile names to Ibrox and his former teammate Lucas Leiva is the latest being linked with a move to Glasgow.

According to the Scottish Sun, Gerrard is considering making a move for the Brazilian midfielder, who he played alongside across a spell of eight years at Liverpool.

Reports also confirm that Leiva is keen on the idea of being reunited with his former captain, and considering his vast Premier League experience, the midfielder would likely prove a strong addition for the Gers.

(Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Despite Lazio being reluctant to sell their player, the 31-year-old needs to make the most of his final years in football and the chance of being part of Gerrard’s revolution in Scotland could just be enough to convince him to leave Serie A.

The former Liverpool man made 346 appearances for the Merseyside outfit and quickly became a fan favourite for the club. He also has 24 caps for Brazil to his name and, despite not being proven in front of goal, he still has enough in the tank to be an effective asset in Scotland.

Should Rangers manage to sign Leiva, it would be a huge statement.

Luring a proven player away from Serie A would be surprising enough, but considering Brendan Rodgers had hoped to bring him to Celtic just a year ago, it would show just how big an impact Gerrard is already having on the balance of power between the two Glasgow sides.

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Nottingham Forest

Difficult Rangers spell puts Jason Cummings’ Nottingham Forest future in doubt

The 22-year-old made just nine starts at Ibrox.

Josh Kerr

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Jason Cummings
Photo: Getty Images

Jason Cummings’ loan move from Nottingham Forest has come to an end, with the striker returning to his parent club from Rangers. However, his time at Ibrox has failed to give supporters a reason to demand he is kept in Glasgow on a permanent deal.

According to the Scottish Sun, Forest boss Aitor Karanka believes Cummings no longer has a future at the club due to his lack of game time in Scotland. He made just nine starts in all for the Gers, coming off the bench on a further nine occasions in a disappointing loan spell.

The 22-year-old striker arrived at Ibrox with lofty expectations, but he failed to establish himself as a regular in the Gers’ first team and spent more time on the sidelines than he did on the pitch.

The Scotland international netted six goals in total but, despite showing signs of his promising talent, he didn’t demonstrate why new manager Steven Gerrard should acquire his services on a full-time basis.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Cummings was brilliant for Scottish Premier League outfit Hibernian before his move to Forest in the summer of 2017, for a fee, according to the Nottingham Post, to be in the region of £1 million.

Gerrard was brought in to improve on the quality already at the club and, considering the Liverpool legend’s name and reputation, he will feel he can bring in better players than Cummings.

This must now leave the striker worrying about his future with his parent club, who could quite conceivably be tempted to part company with a player who has only scored once in 14 appearances for the two-time European Cup winners.

Once one of Scotland’s most promising strikers, Cummings is facing exile from both of his represented clubs and will be seriously worried as to what the future holds.

Despite struggling to make an impact for the Gers, the two-time Scotland international possesses undeniable talent. If Rangers feel he hasn’t justified a permanent deal, another loan move could bring the best out of the once-promising striker.

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Liverpool

Liverpool should turn to Steven Gerrard and Rangers to solve their Rhian Brewster problem

Liverpool are struggling to keep the teenager, but a move to Ibrox would see him work with new Rangers boss and Kop legend in Glasgow.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool are facing something of a battle to keep hold of their star young striker Rhian Brewster. The young England talent, who was sensational for England’s under-17s in their World Cup triumph last summer, has been heavily linked with a move to German side Borussia Monchengladbach. In fact, the approach from the Bundesliga outfit has been anything but amicable.

Liverpool know they have a top talent in their hands in the form of Brewster, but he obviously fears for his first-team opportunities at Anfield.

What Liverpool need to do is present the young striker with a clear vision for his future and it should involve club legend, Steven Gerrard.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The former Liverpool captain has recently taken his first steps into management with Scottish giants Rangers. Now he will be looking to improve his options at Ibrox, as they look to catch Old Firm rivals Celtic.

Brewster has in fact been linked with a move to Gerrard’s Glasgow rivals, but it would be a better move for the teenager to head to Ibrox.

Under the guidance of former Liverpool under-18 boss Gerrard the striker would be more likely to play first-team football.

The deal would offer the talented striker what he wants, regular first-team football. Rangers would be happy with any deal. His arrival would be welcomed and would add some fresh firepower to the attacking ranks at Rangers.

(during the International Friendly match between Sydney FC and Liverpool FC at ANZ Stadium on May 24, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

Meanwhile, Liverpool will know he is in the trusted hands of a club legend who will do all he can to ensure Brewster continues to mature, all whilst hopefully improving Rangers’ frontline.

Presenting a full plan for his development would give Brewster the desire he needs to remain at Liverpool. Heading to Ibrox would then be a perfect opportunity for him to start finding the net and adapting to the men’s game.

A Rangers loan switch makes perfect sense for all parties.

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