Rangers: Top Flight Report Card


It’s funny how a few wins can turn things around at a club. Had this report been written a few weeks back it probably would’ve had a different outcome and tone.

To be honest the transition from the Championship to the Scottish Premiership has been a bit of a tough one for Mark Warburton and his players.

They’ve struggled to find goals, the defence still looks vulnerable at set-pieces and a lot of clubs have obviously studied plenty of Gers footage from last season and found ways to hamper the Light Blues when they’ve been on their travels.

Dropping points in eight games out of seventeen league fixtures tells you just how difficult things have been for Rangers this term.

Then you have the summers transfer policy, which seemed a bit bizarre if I’m being honest.

Niko Kranjcar’s season has been cut-short due to injury and the veteran struggled earlier in the campaign due to a distinct lack of match sharpness.

Philippe Senderos might have an impressive CV but the central defender had a debut to forget when he was sent-off during the 5-1 defeat to Celtic. Hasn’t been seen in the league since the first of October, where he picked up a booking against Partick Thistle. Looks to be a panic buy!

I haven’t seen anything of Matt Crooks yet due to an injury. His former Accrington Stanley colleague Josh Windass has impressed the Ibrox faithful with his eagerness and willingness to go forward whenever he gets the chance. Unfortunately for Josh, he too has had his fair share of injuries already this season.

Injuries have also cursed former Liverpool man Jordan Rossiter, who has only made four league appearances at the time of writing this report. But when he’s played he has looked an exciting prospect who gets his head up, plays smart passes and keeps possession. His side would certainly benefit from having him in the team on a more regular basis.

Former Leicester City forward Joe Dodoo is another youngster who looks full of promise. His brace against the Jags last month showed us that he comes alive inside the box and could a very useful goalscoring threat. He’s just another one that needs to stay clear from injuries and get more minutes on the pitch.

Full-back Lee Hodson has looked accomplished whenever he’s played but doesn’t seem to have much chance of playing continually ahead of either Lee Wallace or James Tavernier.

Matt Gilks is an experienced back-up goalkeeper, who showed against Celtic (in the League Cup) that he won’t let his side down if called upon. I’d actually like to see him more, as Wes Foderingham doesn’t always  provide confidence for those playing ahead of him.

Thirty-eight year old Clint Hill has actually been one of Warburton’s better buys at this stage. The veteran might struggle against pacy forwards but he’s committed, knows his weaknesses and will always put a shift in.

£1.8m striker Joe Garner has struggled to adapt when playing in this Gers system. Looks more suited as a second striker who will bully defenders and provide for a more adept finisher. The fans were hoping for a better return than just three goals in nine appearances.

All the new signings still have time to settle in and show the Ibrox crowd just why Mark Warburton decided to sign them.

The same can’t be said of Joey Barton however, as the main signing of the summer has already departed Govan under an extremely dark cloud.

The midfielder came to Scotland boasting that he was going to be the league’s best player. But he failed to show that desire on the pitch, never looked fully fit and slowed things down when his team needed a quicker tempo.

He would leave Rangers after that crushing loss to Old Firm rivals Celtic and after a scathing argument with Andy Halliday and Warburton. His words clearly didn’t go down well with the Gers boss and after a lengthy saga it was agreed that he should continue his career elsewhere.

The whole Barton saga looked bad and the Glasgow giants seemed to handle it poorly.

Warburton knew he was getting a volatile player who spoke his mind. Yet they seemed like a rabbit caught in the headlights when Barton acted like a volatile player with a big mouth!

After disappointing results away to both Hearts and Aberdeen, things were starting to look bad for Warburton as he seemed to offer no Plan B.

But in the last week, in the corresponding fixtures at home, Rangers have managed to beat both of their closest rivals and they did it with a change of approach.

They haven’t tried to walk every ball into the net and have went a bit more direct and that’s caused problems for the opposition. Finally it seems as if Warburton is listening to his own support.

It has helped that young winger Barrie McKay has once again regained some form and is starting to look like a Premiership player!

Centre-back Rob Kiernan has also improved greatly in the last few weeks and he’ll be hoping that can continue into the second half of the season.

There’s no doubt that Rangers still have improvements to make.

The forwards need to score more, especially when you see the amount of chances that are being created but are going begging. A solid ball-winning defender to play alongside Kiernan would beneficial too. Oh and you can add a goalscoring midfielder to that list too.

With all that being said, it’s important to remember that the main objective for this season has to be finishing in second place. They’ve managed to secure that spot for now and they’re beginning to look like a better team, so that has to be a plus for Mark Warburton.

They will obviously not challenge Celtic this term but it’s important that they try and close the gap and show that Celtic have some weaknesses that teams can exploit.

Grade: C+ – Rangers are looking a bit more comfortable in their new surroundings, after a very disjointed start. Recent wins over rivals Hearts and Aberdeen show that they can change slightly from their manager’s footballing philosophies and gain important wins. Need to now cement second place and claw back some points on leaders Celtic.

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