“Oooooh Warburton is magic, he wears a magic hat…”. We’ve certainly taken to the new boss haven’t we?!
After only two games, Rangers look revitalised under Mark Warburton and Davie Weir. Lee Wallace looks like the player who earned a Scotland call-up while playing in Division Three, Nicky Law is visible to the naked eye once more, and David Templeton has found his way back into the starting XI although he continues to split fan opinion.
The new signings have, almost to a man, immediately become key players and James Tavernier has instantly impressed many with two goals, a couple of assists and arguably two man of the match performances in two games. The former Newcastle full-back has turned in two of the most assured performances from virtually any new signing I can recall over the last 20 years.
Danny Wilson looks like he never left. He’s made one or two mistakes, as has his new sidekick Rob Kiernan, but defensively we look much better than last season already. Darren McGregor may feel a bit disappointed to not be in the first-team, however there will be plenty of opportunities for him over the course of the season.
Andy Halliday (Did you know he grew up in the shadow of Ibrox?) is another who has come into the side over the summer and looks like he’s been there for years. When John Eustace finally signs on at Ibrox, Halliday may find himself used slightly further forward and will provide excellent support to Martyn Waghorn. Speaking of Waghorn, following the signing of the forward, and then Wigan team-mates Tavernier and Kiernan, I can only wonder how Wigan were relegated last season. Gary Caldwell must have a fantastic squad at his disposal.
Jason Holt looks to be another strong signing so far. Highly-rated throughout Scottish football, the midfielder faces competition for a regular start but can play in a number of positions across the midfield. Kenny Miller has magically transformed into the greatest impact sub I’ve seen in years with a tremendous return and two very impressive appearances from the bench so far.
David Templeton and Barrie McKay appear to have been granted reprieves my Warburton with the two wide men starting both games so far. Either player can get fans off their seats with one piece of magic. Neither found favour under Ally McCoist, with Stuart McCall and Kenny McDowall not utilising Templeton either, while McKay spent time on loan at Raith last season. Templeton needs to show what he is capable of now. He’s now one of the longest-serving, and highest paid, players at the club and really needs to establish himself as a regular starter. McKay still has youth on his time and even if the manager feels he isn’t quite there yet he can continue to develop as a player.
We’ve not seen much change in the younger players around the squad yet and I expect that’s down to the management team wanting to see where the senior players are when the Championship kicks off on Friday night. Calum Gallagher is one player who won’t be around the squad, having signed a one-year deal at title rivals St. Mirren. I’m a big fan of his (you might remember I questioned his lack of first-team action a few months back) and think he would add something to the Rangers side now, however I wish him well and we may see him back at Ibrox as a Rangers player in the future.
The whole Scott Allan saga is beginning to drag on just a bit too far and be getting a bit too expensive for my liking. Hibs yesterday turned down a reported £280,000 bid for their midfielder with suggestions Rangers will return with a further offer. £300,000 or more for a player in the last year of his deal in the Scottish Championship is crazy.
On a sadder note, Rangers legend Sammy Cox passed away last weekend aged 91. Cox played 370 times for the club and was part of the famous “Iron Curtain” defence of goalkeeper Bobby Brown, full-backs George Young and Jock Shaw, centre-half Willie Woodburn and wing-halves Ian McColl and, of course, Cox. He also played in almost every game in 1948/49 as Rangers secured the first treble in Scottish football history. Cox went on to spend a decade at Ibrox before spending a few years at East Fife then emigrating to Canada in 1959 where he wound down his career. Regarded as one of the very best players to have worn a Rangers jersey, Cox is a member of the club’s Hall of Fame and represented Scotland 25 times.
Finally, at the risk of leaving myself with a red face come May, I’m going to make some predictions for the coming season;
Scottish Premiership – Them
Scottish Championship – Us
English Premier League – Chelsea (from Man City by less than three points)
Champions League – Barcelona
Europa League – Schalke 04