We cannot stress the importance of Sunday’s Viaplay Cup Final. Rangers face off against the other mob having won every match under Michael Beale bar one – the extremely unlucky draw against them earlier this season at Ibrox, in which the home side merited a win, but Beale’s poor subs and a bit of bad luck cost us.
This one is the real deal – this is two months on from that earlier encounter, and Beale has 8 or so weeks of learning under his belt. Yes, he’s still made some questionable subs, but we can’t help feeling the awful cameos have reduced in number, and there’s a bit more sense in the switches now.
However, the final itself is massive, simply because a victory for Rangers and the other mob will absolutely 100% have to take this manager and this club seriously, for even if 9 points is too large a gap this season, a win on Sunday shows Rangers can beat them, and that a further two spankings this season could, assuming all other fixtures are won, reduce the deficit to just three points.
And nothing more would undermine the other mob winning the title than chucking away a 9-point lead and only winning it slenderly by three points. Sure, they’d still celebrate the title like they’d won the Champions League, but they’d know they’re no longer actually the best team in this country. That Michael Beale’s Rangers are, even if we missed out on 56 this time.
This is why Sunday matters. It lays the gauntlet down – if we can secure the Viaplay Cup, it’s not only our first league triumph in an embarrassing amount of time (12 years to be exact), it is also a huge statement to our city rivals that we are truly ready to go toe to toe with them, and that we might just be the better team now with the better manager.
Remember, their boss didn’t interest Premier League sides at all – heck, Leeds weren’t even interested in him now, they wanted Javi Gracia, and got him. But Wolves have already tried for and failed to secure Michael Beale. So PL sides rate our manager. That’s Southampton, Aston Villa and Leeds who have all ignored Stavros.
So yes, a lot rests on Sunday. Beale and Rangers have spoken a big game – but it’s time to deliver one, a trophy, a huge trophy.
The support awaits.