Thursday, 24 August 2017

What can Rangers do with under a month to go until the Old Firm derby?

With the first Old Firm derby of the season just under a month away we are looking at Rangers’ start to the season and upcoming games for Pedro Caixinha’s men heading into undoubtedly the biggest match in world football!
Rangers will be keen to improve upon their third place finish last season and look to challenge Celtic for the title. With the mighty Gers having spent more than Celtic this summer, as well as bringing in players such as Graham Dorrans and Bruno Alves on free transfers, expectations were high heading into the new season.
Having been knocked out of Europe, Caixinha’s men started the domestic season well with a 2-1 away win at Motherwell and then smashing Dunfermline 6-0 in the Scottish League Cup. However, those impressive victories have been followed by a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Hibs at home, and then a dour 0-0 draw against Hearts.
The mood amongst Rangers fans has understandably dampened after the previous two results. With early points being dropped, the team will now be playing catch up to the teams at the top of the table, who have taken the initiative in the opening fixtures. The confidence from earlier in the season has transformed to uncertainty surrounding the morale of the team, as well as questions from the press about the manager’s future.Some betting sites have Celtic as strong favourites for the title with Rangers currently coming in at 25/1. A run of victories will be needed for these odds to shorten.
Luckily for Rangers the upcoming fixtures against Dundee and Partick Thistle provided an opportunity to go into the match against Celtic with some momentum. Both Dundee and Thistle are yet to register a win so far this campaign, and the Gers should be looking to capitalise. With the team already dropping points this season these fixtures already fall in the ‘must win’ category, and it will be interesting to see how the team copes with the pressures of these fixtures considering the team all too often retreated into their shell last season when faced with challenging moments.
With many questioning Caixinha’s credentials for the role, and with the indifferent start to the season, these two upcoming fixtures provide an opportunity for the Rangers players and staff to show their worth. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem considering the previous two results. The fans want to see one hundred percent commitment from the players. We need to go into the game with the right attitude and start both matches with a high level of intensity, hopefully grabbing an early goal. The performance isn’t necessarily key; it’s all about taking maximum point into the game with Celtic. Victories breed confidence, simple as that.
Rangers only once won more than two games in a row last season, which is inexcusable. This season there needs to be an increased level of consistency from the side. At this stage early stage, a few wins on the bounce can catapult Rangers up the table. Granted, you can’t account for refereeing decisions in the defeat to, but the conceding three goals at home isn’t good enough, and defending will need to improve to become a more consistent side.
Historically, Rangers have a fantastic record against Partick Thistle with the Gers last loss coming twenty-four years ago. This stands us in good stead going into the fixture. Thistle confidence should be low, and we should realistically have too much quality for them to handle. Dundee on the other hand recorded a famous win against Rangers last season, however have made a woeful start to the season sitting at the foot of the table having conceded seven goals in three games.
The Old Firm fixture falls at an interesting point in mid September. Celtic will be having to contend with Champions League group stage fixtures, and may be ranking up the injuries, as well as the air miles! There is no doubt that Celtic are looking strong at the moment and Rangers will have to be on top form to compete, but if we can get two good wins under our belt going into the match, then Ibrox will be bouncing. A win against Celtic at Ibrox will put to bed any memories of an indifferent start to the season, and hopefully act as a springboard for the Gers to push onto challenging for the title.
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