Sunday, August 14, 2022

Rangers Season Preview: Can Warbs And Co Challenge Celtic For The Title?

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

Three promotions in four years brought the most successful team in Scottish football Rangers back to where they belong i.e. the Premiership. High will the hopes of the Rangers fans be in the upcoming Premiership season which kicks off this weekend with a home game against Hamilton Academical on 6th August. With Rangers back in the top tier, the sense of excitement in the Scottish Premiership is back. The Premiership had become like a monopoly of Rangers’ arch-rivals Celtic in recent years and the Hoops’ domestic throne could be in jeopardy.

Following Mark Warburton’s appointment by the Ibrox club last summer, Rangers never had to look back and clinched the Scottish Championship with quite an ease. Rangers also won the Scottish Challenge Cup and were runners-up in the Scottish Cup losing the final against Hibernian. We have to wait and see if Warburton can build on the success he achieved in his maiden season at Ibrox.

Transfers

Rangers definitely made their presence felt in the transfer market, be it in a shrewd manner. There is a monumental gap in the level of football between the Premiership and the Championship and the Gers needed to add more quality to the first team in order to thrive in the top tier. Warburton took no time to identify what Rangers need and did remarkable early business and they did quite economically.

Here are all the done deals from Rangers so far

Ins

Players Club Transfer Fee
Matt Gilks Burnley FC Free transfer
Joe Dodoo Leicester U21 Free transfer
Niko Kranjcar New York Cosmos Free transfer
Josh Windass Accrington St. Free transfer
Matt Crooks Accrington St. Free transfer
Joey Barton Burnley FC Free transfer
Clint Hill QPR Free transfer
Jordan Rossiter Liverpool U23 Free transfer
Lee Hodson MK Dons Undisclosed

 

BURNLEY, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 02: Joey Barton of Burnley celebrates as they are promoted to the Premier League after the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on May 2, 2016 in Burnley, United Kingdom. Burnley defeated QPR 1-0 to gain promotion. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 02: Joey Barton of Burnley celebrates as they are promoted to the Premier League after the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on May 2, 2016 in Burnley, United Kingdom. Burnley defeated QPR 1-0 to gain promotion. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Outs

Players Club Transfer Fee
Luca Gasparotto Falkirk FC Free transfer
Nicky Law Bradford City Free transfer
Nicky Clark Bury FC Free transfer
Maciej Gostomski Korona Kielce Free transfer
Cammy Bell Dundee United Free transfer
Scott Roberts Raith Rovers Loan
Tom Walsh St. Mirren FC Loan
Liam Kelly Livingston FC Loan
Ryan Hardie St. Mirren FC Loan
David Templeton Released
Darren Ramsay Released
Dean Shiels Released
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Nicky Clark of Rangers lifts the Scottish Championship Trophy after the Scottish Championship match between Rangers and Alloa Athletic Scottish at Ibrox Stadium April 23, 2016 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – APRIL 23: Nicky Clark of Rangers lifts the Scottish Championship Trophy after the Scottish Championship match between Rangers and Alloa Athletic Scottish at Ibrox Stadium April 23, 2016 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

How have the Gers performed in the transfer market?

In one word, the answer is ‘remarkable’. Warburton has managed to assemble a squad at Ibrox which is more than capable of challenging rivals Celtic for the Premiership title. Rangers have acquired the services of proven top-level players like Joe Barton and Niko Kranjcar. Even though both are in their thirties now, they give a whole new dimension to the squad with their experience and quality. Veteran Clint Hill provides a quality cover for defensive duo Kiernan and Wilson while Matt Gilks is capable of competing with Foderingham for the place between the sticks. Young and highly-rated Jordon Rossiter also made his move to Ibrox and even though he is just 19, the Liverpool youth graduate is capable of notching a first-team place. On the other hand, players like Windass, Crooks and Dodoo all offer quality and depth to the squad. Warburton has managed to bring a competition for places in the team which will benefit the Gers.

Probable tactics and formation

Last season, Rangers had their success mostly playing in a 4-3-3 formation but with Kranjcar joining the club, Warburton is likely to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation to make room for the Croatian. Foderingham and Gilks will compete for a starting place under the bar while the best possible back four would remain the same as last season i.e. Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson and Wallace. Hodson will provide cover for both full-back positions while Hill will cover Kiernan and Wilson. There will be a strong competition for places in the middle of the park with Halliday, Barton, Rossiter, Crooks and Holt all in the picture. Kranjcar should be the first choice number ten while Windass will act as the cover for the Croatian. McKay, Dodoo, Forrester and O’Halloran will compete for places on the two flanks while Waghorn will be the first-choice number nine with veteran Miller acting as a cover.

Season expectations

Rangers do have enough quality in their squad to challenge rivals Celtic for the title and if everything goes according to their plans, the Gers could make the perfect comeback to the Premiership by challenging for the title. However, that will be easier said than done. The Gers fell terribly short when they faced Burnley a few days ago and it’ll be anything but a cakewalk in the top flight. Warburton’s tactical nous will be tested and if he can stand up to it, the Gers will do just fine. A top 2 finish is likely.

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