Words: Rory Buchanan
If Rangers pick up another 3 points in Sunday’s game against Queen of the South, Mark Warburton will equal an achievement set ninety-five years ago. In 1920, Bill Struth – in his debut season – won his first eight games as Rangers Manager. Despite the fact that Rangers are playing at a relatively lower level in 2015, should Warburton equal this record it will surely set a symbolic message that this is the man to revolutionize the same Club almost one-hundred years later.
The Rangers support has endured some bloody awful times in the last few years, with treacherous crook after big-handed crook coming into the Club and syphoning money into their own pockets. But there now seems a genuine change at the Club with real ‘Rangers men’ coming into the Board to ensure the Club survives another 143 years. And there have been plenty occasions over the past few seasons where it didn’t seem likely we’d last to Christmas. Just ask Phil…
It’s starting to look like Warburton will have a bit of a selection headache, which is exactly what he wants from a small, competitive squad. His team dominated against Airdrieonians on Wednesday, scoring an impressive three goals in the first fifteen minutes, and another two in the last ten. While the middle of the game didn’t result in any further goals, the team was in complete control during the entirety, only struggling at times to break down nine defensive men in the opposition’s box.
It’s a notable trait of Warburton and Weir’s squads that their fitness and drive to score even more goals lasts right to the whistle. While this should be somewhat expected against lower league opposition – despite Ally McCoist’s view that the “gap” between professional and amateur is almost non-existent – it’ still an impressive trait for any team to have, and one that the management team showed at Brentford.
After saying previously that Dean Shiels would really have to step up to have a chance of featuring in this squad, the Northern Irishman managed to grab a goal during the midweek fixture. Again though, I didn’t feel his performance was really up to the standards of the rest of the team. This is less noticeable against Championship sides, but when we come up against Premiership opposition (mainly Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts) every player will need to give their all. Shiels for me still goes missing for large parts of games. However, that’s two goals so far this season, and I’m willing to hope he plays himself into the kind of form he needs.
Queen of the South go into this game as the only other Championship side to secure 9 points from their opening three games, and will look to challenge for a play-off spot come the end of the season. However, they have fallen short in the Cup football so far, going out of two competitions in the space of a week. As expected, if Rangers play the game at their pace it should be another 3 points for Warburton’s boys.
Gedion Zelalem – The Arsenal loanee looked magnificent in the middle of the park, constantly slowing down play and analysing all the potential passes he could make. But he was also able to quickly strike that pass which at times wrong-footed the opposition. It really seemed at times he had all the time in the world to make an effective pass, and his assist for Martyn Waghorn’s goal was beautiful. It’s looks like we may have a real star in the youngster, which speaks volumes for Warburton’s reputation down South that Rangers have been able to secure him in the Scottish Championship. The key for him this season will be both consistency, and wether he can keep his head in front of a roaring 50,000 at Ibrox.
Andy Halliday – Halliday had another excellent game against Airdrieonians, with a lovely left-footed strike on the 14’ minute. His second strike was even better, but unfortunately it smacked off the bar. While he’s pretty much strolled the defensive midfield position in the opening games, should the occasion call for it I would expect him to push a little further forward and have a few more cracks at goal. The bluenose scored quite a few during his time at Livingston, and while they’ve dried up somewhat since moving to England, Halliday himself has admitted this is something he’d like to add back to his game now he’s returned to Scotland.
Kenny Miller – The elder statesman of the team may be finding it harder to get a starting XI than thought previously. With the additions of Oduwa and Zelalem, and the fact that Waghorn looks equally comfortable on the wing or as a lone striker, it’s possible Kenny’s role this season will be the ‘Super Sub’ many fans estimated before the season began. Against Hibernian Miller seemed to be playing all over the park, but I thought he often looked stuck right in the middle of the pitch. While his work-rate is excellent, and he’s always looking to help out where he can, he’s most effective in the box. Should he get the start on Sunday, he’ll need to ensure he sets up camp at that back left post to continue knocking the goals in. Given how brightly he’s started this season, I’m confident he can score plenty when he gets the chance.
- GK – Foderingham
- RB – Tavernier
- CB – Keirnan
- CB – Wilson
- LB – Wallace
- CM – Halliday
- CM – Holt
- CO – Zelalem
- ATT – McKay
- ATT – Waghorn
- ATT – Oduwa
Queen of the South 1-5 Rangers