RANGERS fan Matthew Schattner argues that there’s better times ahead for the Ibrox club. You have to admire his optimism…
With Celtic claiming their first silverware of the season in yesterday’s League Cup final, Rangers fans have every right to feel downtrodden about their own season’s comparative prospects and distance from first place in the league table. But the bigger picture reveals a more optimistic proposition, as Mark Warburton’s first season in the Scottish top flight has left Rangers fans with much to take pride in and many reasons to be hopeful for the future.
“The task of rebuilding is one that requires commitment, diligence and clarity of vision, but significant progress is being made,” said manager Mark Warburton in his AGM speech last week. “We are on a journey, a long-term project, one that is designed to return this club to the very top of Scottish football and back to the top table of European competition.”
Warburton’s tenure as manager has been extremely successful in the context of Ranger’s recent history. After wallowing in the lower divisions, Warburton’s appointment in the summer of 2015 resulted in the club finally returning to the Scottish Premier League and the even a Scottish Cup final berth.
In his first season in the Premiership, the club has held onto second place, an impressive spot for a manager’s first spell in the top division. Warburton has turned the club’s fortunes around, and Rangers will continue to build on this success as long as he remains in charge.
Rangers have also shown fortitude in the face of negative headlines and other misfortunes. Big-name summer signings Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar did not pan out, but these setbacks never damaged Warburton’s confidence or his team’s performance.
The media obsessed over Barton’s antics, team ban and subsequent termination, and Kranjcar’s season was cut short with a cruciate ligament tear just as the midfielder was beginning to impress. Despite the prospect of distraction and disappointment, Rangers have remained focused on results, suffering only two losses in the league so far this season.
Above all else, the current campaign marks Rangers’ first season back in the Scottish top flight after a four-year absence. Storming the league would have been thrilling, but unrealistic.
Rangers have proven to be, at worst, the second best team in the league, a position that Warburton can build on for the remainder of the year and into next season.
Warburton also has an upcoming January transfer window to bolster his squad and potentially narrow the gap on Celtic. With Rangers claiming five wins in the previous seven matches and no losses since September, it is Celtic fans that have real reason for concern once their celebrations subside.
It is an exciting time for Rangers as they reclaim their European prestige and threaten Celtic’s recent Scottish dominance.
The club has high ambitions and the backing to succeed on the administrative end. Chairman Dave King has said that Warburton will be given funds in the January transfer window to remain competitive for European places, as he told RangersTV, “This time next year, I would like us to be in Europe. It is important that we finish the league strongly, and I think we can do.”
Rangers play Hearts in midweek and Aberdeen at the weekend as the battle for second place in the Scottish premiership continues.