Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Can Rangers do it?

The SPL is now in full flow as we enter one of the busiest parts of the season, but it has been a mixed bag for Rangers so far. Although the Gers are sitting fourth in the table, four points adrift of Aberdeen and six off first placed Celtic at the time of writing, it still feels like they are finding their feet in their second season back in the Premier Division. Fourth place certainly isn't ideal at this point and would be one place below their placing last year if nothing changes. Those who feel that Rangers have what it takes to topple Celtic can bet on a winning finish, can do so through 888sport.

Celtic too strong?

Things have been very plain sailing across at Celtic Park since Rangers disappeared from the top tier of Scottish football in 2012, but they haven't exactly had a quality set of opponents to challenge them. Former Liverpool and Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers has built a strong squad that is phenomenal in the SPL, but still falls at the first hurdle in European competitions. The strange air of confidence exuded by Rodgers gets a fair bit of stick on Twitter thanks to the club's financial status and consistent failures in Europe. With some exceptional players and a certain rhythm when it comes to getting results both home and away, it doesn't feel like Rangers have quite what it takes to do anything to upset the status quo this season.

Results so far

Although their league placing looks strong, readers need to remember that Rangers have had a couple of slip ups, with 2 losses and 2 draws causing vital points to be dropped. After a frankly embarrassing defeat to Luxembourgish nobodies Progres Niederkorn that dumped them out of Europa League qualifying, August was a rollercoaster ride that saw a disappointing defeat to Hibs and a goalless draw at home against Hearts mixed with a 6-0 hammering of Dunfermline in the cup and wins away at Ross County and Motherwell.

September saw some more convincing wins against Dundee and Hamilton, but a draw against Partick Thistle in a game they should have won convincingly and a comprehensive defeat against Celtic at the Ibrox left Rangers fans with mixed feelings. A 3-0 win over St. Johnstone will have cheered most fans up after international that saw Scotland fail to qualify for the World Cup.

Back to form and quality

Rangers are starting to look like a title challenging team again, with a squad that was designed for back to back promotions now boasting depth and talent. Outgone manager Pedro Caixinha tried to state his intent with some key international signings. Amongst the relatively young new talent there is some serious experience coming from players like Bruno Alves, Niko Kranjcar and vice-captain Kenny Miller, who looks like he could play into his 50s, picking up several goals in the league so far.

New South and Central American signings for the season Alfredo Morelos and Carlos Pena have added flair to the side, with Colombian Morelos picking up 6 goals in 8 appearances to make him the league's top scorer for a while and Pena picked up a brace in the St. Johnstone game. It seemed that Caixinha was using his international contacts to root out foreign talent.

Can they do it?

In short, it doesn't feel like Celtic will slip up. Rodgers has a good squad before him and despite a couple of draws against St. Johnstone and Hibs (both of which followed morale-destroying European defeats), Celtic have the depth and talent to win the league. The real fight will be for second place and the all-important Europa League qualifying round 2. Rangers likely weren't that bothered about a European campaign this year, but next year could be a different story if the right new manager can find success and continue to build the squad.

With promising results in the games you'd expect them to win and no demolitions in the games they have lost, it seems Rangers are well on the way to becoming a title challenger once again. Let's hope the form continues and that the new manager can back up his credentials by getting a win against Celtic next year.
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