Rangers fans have been long-aware that in Jack Butland, we had signed a top goalie. When his name was linked, he was one Ibrox Noise nailed on the mast as a success, the calibre we needed, even before he stopped a ball in anger.
It would take a blind or dumb man to think a goalie with almost 100 Premier League appearances and a decent chunk of England caps wasn’t going to be good enough for Rangers, and in fairness, few supporters at all were dubious about getting Butland.
He was a stick-on to succeed.
But there’s a difference between having the CV and theoretical quality to succeed at Rangers, and actually doing it – Butland had never been between the sticks for a high-pressure team on a consistent basis.
For him it was Stoke and Palace – yes, relegation-fodder true, but with the pressure of not going down, not the pressure of constant must-win.
The closest he got was England, a top national side expected to win every match, but this was obviously not regular football once or twice a week.
And with that came the doubt – would he cope with the pressure of even a draw being the end of the world at Rangers?
To say Jack Butland has flourished at Rangers is an understatement – he is, without doubt, among the best goalkeepers to grace the Scottish Premiership, period.
That’s right, he’s arguably on a par with Allan McGregor, some might tentatively say he’s even better. Craig Gordon was also an exceptional stopper for both Hearts and Celtic, we won’t argue that point – he made exactly the same number of appearances in the Premier League that Butland did.
As for Greegsy, no one would say a bad word about Rangers’ former number one, he’s a legend and among our best two or three goalkeepers, but Butland is a different animal, a truly marquee stopper from the top tree of football, and inside five months, has easily installed himself as one of Rangers’ best-ever goalkeepers.
That’s how good he’s been for us.
The one thing he is ‘missing’ is that ‘miracle’ stop. He has not yet quite hit the impossible save level that McGregor and Goram could, where they pulled a ridiculous save out at gigantic moments which to this day still make fans gasp.
But we do feel that’s a matter of time.
As it is he’s nevertheless been exceptional, a truly serious successor to a legendary keeper that, off the back of the club suffering a bit of Jon McLaughlin, is a glorious relief.
Rangers have a worthy number one, more than, and he’s the one thing Michael Beale definitely got right.