Why the St Johnstone loss was the most important victory of Rangers’ season


When Rangers lost to St Johnstone on the 22nd of September last year, to describe the general reaction as negative would be the understatement of the year.

It was Mark Warburton’s first foray into competing against a Premiership opponent, and while on the night Rangers were far from abysmal, they were certainly well beaten by a canny opponent highlighting the step up in class needed for the switch to SPL action.

At the time, some fans (not all) questioned the manager’s tactics, selections, quality of the squad, and used that result as a barometer of where Rangers were in the grand scheme of things.

It turned out that losing that evening was the most important result this season.

The old cliché in football is you learn far more in defeat than you do in victory, and if we take the loss to Tommy Wright’s men as an example, this phrase could not be more accurate.

Since that disappointing night at Ibrox, Rangers’ record against Premiership opponents, including supposedly the best team in the country, reads: one draw, three wins.

That is Premiership-winning form right there.

The Magic Hat evidently gained so much experience, knowledge and wisdom from one match and has applied it to every match since – while Rangers have lost some matches, with trips to Easter Road and Falkirk Stadium yielding zero points for Warbs’ men, in the matches which have truly counted on the big stages, Rangers have consistently delivered.

One bad result saw Mark Warburton tweak his setup, make changes, and persist with his overall ethics and system to see off Kilmarnock, Dundee and Celtic. Each match v a Premiership opponent has seen progression – loss to St Johnstone, mediocre draw with Killie, gritty win at Rugby Park, glorious stroll at Ibrox against Dundee then yesterday’s masterful Old Firm win.

If ever Warburton proved the value of his stock, it was this season and how he has learned quickly, incisively, and shown he has what it takes to not only lead Rangers back into the Premiership, but far beyond.

Rangers are now nearly certain of Europa League football next season thanks to Warburton’s ability to adapt and persist – that is an astonishing feat for a side who, less than a year ago, were embarrassed out of the playoffs by a dismal Motherwell.

It is absolutely no wonder Celtic are scared.


  1. Your last paragraph sums things up nicely. However, in the cold reality of today and playing devil's advocate, lets not forget that a post and bar and a horrible miss could have presented Celtic with a win. Mr King has to back MW big time.The display and achievement yesterday is one for the ages but as MW said, very very loud and clear, give me the resources and give it to me now. Not to do so would lose an opportunity that rarely presents itself. Look at Liverpool, Man Utd, Rangers and Celtic's years of plenty and then their wilderness years. Take Shankly, Ferguson, Smith and Stein out of these clubs histories and things would be very different.Any holding back or hesitancy by Mr King and the board could see a reversal in momentum at Ibrox and at worse a loss of manager to a top class premier club, who surely have their eyes on our prize asset.

    • The result could have been different. No doubt about that but what impressed me was the overall performance, the Celtic players were knackered at the end because all they did was chase the ball for 120 mins. Honestly I would have been just as happy to lose the penalty kicks because the way we played brings hope for next season. Europe would be a massive bonus if we get it

  2. Must admit to doubting Rangers after the St Johnstone defeat, mostly we were beaten by Tommy Wright and his tactics were spot on that night so a lot of credit must go to him. We have stuttered through Jan, Feb and March with some close results but we were keeping clean sheets. That performance yesterday was just superb , not even the result but the way we went about passing Celtic to pieces was excellent. Celtic's CB totally froze under the pressure of the occasion but our team seemed to lap it up. Well done MW and DW. I wont be doubting in the future. WATP

  3. Imagine if we beat Motherwell last season… MW and new staff/board shows that with the right minds you can do anything. Something teams like villa, newcastle etc lack and shows.

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