Rangers were met with the reality check of their season last Sunday as they were knocked out the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage after a hammering from arch rivals Celtic.
Compared to the last Old Firm derby at Ibrox, the Gers offered little in terms of fight and produced an embarrassing display, much to the frustration and anger of their loyal fans.
Clearly there is a lot of work to be done at the club in terms of bridging the gap between themselves and Celtic and, despite a feeling the gap had begun to decrease, last Sunday was a reminder of exactly where both clubs are right now.
It seems unlikely Graeme Murty will retain his job beyond the end of the current season. In fact, he may not even be given the chance to see out the remaining league games. Whoever comes in will face the huge task of deciding which players to let go, and which players to bring in to the club to mount a stronger challenge next time round.
With issues to address in all areas of the pitch, the following three players are those Rangers should definitely be targeting in the rapidly approaching summer transfer window. The Gers need characters, those who appreciate the club’s values, and each individual would add a great deal of quality as the board look to build a new spine to take the club to the next level.
Hearts youngster John Souttar has become one of Scotland’s most highly rated centre-halves in recent times. If it was not for the likes of Jack Hendry and Scott McKenna, Souttar would probably be making his mark on the senior Scotland side but, instead, he has carried on his development with the under-21s.
Aged only 21, Souttar has become a stalwart in Craig Levein’s side, and has already amassed 128 appearances in Scotland’s top flight since his debut as a 16-year-old with Dundee United in 2013 and is as experienced as they come at his young age.
Despite being from Aberdeen, as a Scot the defender will be well aware of the prestige of Rangers and would no doubt relish the opportunity to turn out at Ibrox each week. Having lost David Bates, and with the heart of defence being a real weakness in the side, Souttar would make a fine addition in the summer.
Another current Hearts player, Norwich-owned Steven Naismith would be an obvious choice for Rangers given his long-standing history with the club.
The 45-capped Scotland international was one of the many players who decided to jump ship when the club entered liquidation and was sent to the bottom of the SPFL, but this does not mean he would not be interested in a return to his boyhood club.
As last Sunday suggested, Rangers need characters, and Naismith is the perfect mould to help the rest of the Gers squad understand exactly what it means to don the famous blue shirt. Had Naismith been playing at Hampden last weekend, you could bet their performance would have been infinitely better, with his added passion and determination to succeed for the club.
Aged 31, the ex-Everton star still has a lot to offer and his move to Hearts in January suggests he is not driven by money or glamour whatsoever. With his Rangers background, he is about as high calibre a target the club could realistically capture and should definitely be worth considering.
Glasgow-born Scotland international Ikechi Anya would be a magnificent capture for Rangers and would add a new dimension to the attack with his pace and prowess. Anya may be slight but has proved himself time and again to be a real handful for full-backs.
The 30-year-old Derby County star is also extremely versatile and can play just about any position down the flanks, from full-back to wing-back to attacking winger.
With nearly 30 Scotland caps and a season in the Premier League under his belt, Anya is also extremely experienced when it comes to top-level football and, like Naismith, would add a great deal to the squad both on and off the pitch.
With his international career having somewhat stagnated in recent times, the opportunity to play in his homeland for the first time, and in his home city at that, would be a terrific prospect for Anya, and a great way for him to see out his final years in football.
Due to his nationality, Anya is another top quality footballer who would be both a realistic and affordable option for Rangers this summer.