This coming weekend, it could finally all be over!
“The Journey” that began with a trip to Brechin way back in the Summer of 2012 is coming to an end, with a win this weekend at Stark’s Park against Raith Rovers, coupled with Hibernian losing at St Mirren, will be enough to clinch the SPFL Championship at the second time of asking.
Mark Warburton’s side have earned huge amounts of praise with their expansive, attacking style and has seen the ex-Brentford boss, possibly mischievously, linked with almost every job that’s become available in the English Championship over the last six months.
With the Petrofac Cup final to come on April 10, followed by the renewal of hostilities with Celtic just seven days later, there could be further celebration amongst the Light Blues support over the next few weeks and maybe another trip to the national stadium added to the fixture list come May.
Over the course of the season, Warburton’s side have shown more than enough to silence any doubters of their ability and give fans a sense of optimism before a crack at 55 [League titles]. Almost to a man, each of the summer signings have played a vital role throughout the season and the few who haven’t have still had an important part to play in the lean first-team squad at Ibrox.
The handful of youngsters who have supplemented the senior squad have also done their future prospects no harm at all. Liam Burt and Ryan Hardie in particular will look to become more regular members of the matchday squad after being on the fringes throughout 2015-16.
That’s not to say there haven’t been hiccups. Defensively the same problems which have existed since the start of the campaign are still evident, although not as often, and a clinical striker would have probably hit 50 goals this season.
Despite his impressive record in front of goal, Martyn Waghorn isn’t the answer to lead the line. As part of the front three, he will be a key player in the Premiership, but he can’t do everything alone. Kenny Miller will possibly be a fringe player and Nicky Clark will probably find himself on the way out over the summer, so it only really leaves Waghorn, Hardie and Michael O’Halloran to fire The Gers to 55.
Away from the march to the league flag, boss Warburton spoke to rangers.co.uk yesterday to explain his decision to only name five substitutes against Queen of the South at the weekend.
He said, “To be on a Rangers bench or to be in a Rangers squad, you’ve got to earn it, you absolutely have to earn it.”
Former managers were criticised for this very same thing, but I couldn’t agree more with Warburton. Youngsters just making their way in the game; in Britain especially, have too much, too young. There have been more kids who have appeared on the bench of a first-team only to fade away into relative obscurity than there are football bloggers, but a seat on the bench seems to have become the first sign you’ve “made it”.
It was an oft-repeated gripe about the old under-21 rule in the SPL that youngsters were being thrust into first-team squads simply to make up the numbers rather than having earned it on the training ground or in age restricted sides. The one that always sticks in the memory is Jordan McMillan. Once a highly rated prospect at Ibrox, McMillan was the proud owner of a £70,000, bright orange, Range Rover despite having never played a game for Rangers by this point.
Finally, this weekend is also the weekend of the Legends Trek. Organised by blind Rangers fan Scott Cunningham, the trek goes the length of the West Highland Way and has some special guests along the way.
The trek helps raise funds for the Rangers Charity Foundation and Guide Dogs Scotland. Please give their website a click and consider giving a little something their way HERE!