Rangers’ recent form has been shaky – there is no getting around that. Following the fledgling season’s zenith when Raith Rovers were systematically destroyed by Mark Warburton’s men, there has been a dramatic dip in performances culminating in a fairly routine win for Premiership outfit St Johnstone on Tuesday.
The display rut had begun with Livingston – while possession was mostly enjoyed by Rangers, and the home side still managed three goals without reply, the zip, spark, energy and cohesive one-twos not to mention marauding flank play and sharp link ups in the middle of the pitch which have punctuated Rangers this season struggled to express themselves and a famous ‘inquest’ was held post-match to establish why.
Unfortunately it did not get a heck of a lot better at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium, home to Dumbarton a week later. Rangers won by a solitary goal, conceding a careless penalty in the process, and significantly struggled to break a resolute and well-disciplined host side down – while the victory was certainly merited, Dumbarton actually looked more likely to open the scoring. That told its own tale about Rangers’ woes.
And then of course the off-colour defeat to the Saints in the Cup. Many a post-mortem has been held and various philosophical meanderings have been made about whether this defeat was a worrying sign of how far off the SPL Rangers really are, or whether it was a vital lesson in the journey back top to the top tier.
Most of a Bluenose persuasion are opting for the latter, and the best way to prove these three matches have been a mere aberration of form and not a tangible long-term dip is to travel to Cappielow on Sunday where a solid Greenock Morton await and frankly slaughter them.
Rangers fans have enjoyed some breathtaking football and scorelines this season, but for the past 270 minutes that has all but disappeared. The only way to show that it is a passing phase is by giving some team a real ‘doing’.
Naturally even a 6-0 win would not absolutely prove anything beyond all doubt, but it would certainly reinstall confidence in the players’ minds and that of the fans too, convincing everyone the Rangers that have rampaged this season have not sunk, and that Warbs’ side is still capable of the great football and thumping scorelines which have delighted everyone connected with the Club.
Rangers probably remain the best side in the league – although Hibs’ renaissance has gone rather unnoticed (since losing at Ibrox they are at 100% including overcoming Scotland’s current top placed side) and Stubbs’ men are now emerging as a real threat in the league. It would be churlish to dismiss them based on this season’s results v Rangers, and the early season jokes about them being bottom of the table.
So it is up to Rangers to get the form back on track and let everything else take care of itself.