GOOD Rangers teams win one league title. Great Rangers sides win several. Time will tell where the current champions ultimately rest in Ibrox history.

Their place amongst the most emotionally cherished was secured as a result of 55 last term but a failure to defend the Premiership will take the edge off their legacy. It is up to the squad – individually and collectively – what they want that to be in years to come.

The admission from Connor Goldson on Sunday that the champions have ‘lost a bit of hunger’ this season was startling. One thing is for sure, they better find it again soon.

The defender came in for some fierce criticism for his observation, but it does at least point to the problem within the Rangers squad. Since day one this term, there has been a feeling of after the Lord Mayor’s show around Rangers.

With Steven Gerrard driving standards and heightening expectations last season, Rangers were a ruthless, relentless winning machine in the league. There was an edge to them that just isn’t there right now.

Title 55 meant that much, and such an effort was put into achieving it, that the following campaign was always going to be something of a comedown.

Levels have slipped too far, however, and the challenge now for Giovanni van Bronckhorst is to stop the slide before it becomes too late to deliver 56 this time around.

Supporters were not demanding that Gerrard went on to deliver nine-in-a-row after landing Rangers’ first title in a decade, but there was a belief that the achievement would be a moment from which the champions could build and go on to dominate, to rack up the medals in quick succession.

But there is a sense that Rangers have been caught up in their own hype from last season and the failure to go again and to strengthen further in the summer transfer market has set the tone.

Gerrard was that miffed about the direction that Rangers were heading in that he opted to leave before the midway stage of the title defence and join Aston Villa.

He left with a heavy heart, and with some relationships with certain members of the Ibrox hierarchy not as strong as they once were or needed to be. Add that to the fact that he earned a significant wage rise, returned to the Premier League and is now closer to his family home, and it is clear to see why the 41-year-old felt he had to move on now rather than exit at the end of the campaign.

There could be a train of thought which suggests that Gerrard’s increasing disillusionment seeped into his squad. This season has been something of a slog for Rangers, right from the moment that their Champions League gamble backfired against Malmo.

The arrival of Van Bronckhorst, then, offers a fresh start. It could well prove to be the catalyst that provides the ‘spark’ that Goldson admitted was needed in the aftermath of the defeat to Hibernian at Hampden.

Rangers’ issues this term as mental rather than physical or tactical. The players within the squad have not regressed in terms of their talents and the approach from the team as a unit is still too good for most domestic opposition, even when not at their best.

If the personnel hasn’t changed and the philosophy remains the same, then the drop-off has to be put down to application levels, desire and mentality. At Rangers, those should be the non-negotiables.

One league title does not make a legendary player or team. If those that are now under Van Bronckhorst’s guidance are willing to settle for a single medal, then they should be shipped out before they cause damage to Rangers’ aspirations of defending their top flight crown.

The coming weeks – which include trips to Hearts, Hibernian, Aberdeen and Celtic – will show the character of the champions. They either want 56 as passionately and deeply as last season’s success or they don’t.

The onus will be on Van Bronckhorst to man-manage and to motivate but such qualities should come from within and failure this term will be on the shoulders of the players rather than the Dutchman.

Greatness is only bestowed on those who earn it at Ibrox. Until then, this Rangers side will only be remembered as a good one.


Sporting integrity. It’s been a while since it has reared its ugly head in Scottish football, but it was back again this week courtesy of Hibernian.

It will, according to the Easter Road board, be a blow to the ‘sporting integrity’ of the Premier Sports Cup final that Jack Ross and his players won’t have the same number of fans cheering them on as Celtic will at Hampden next month. Frankly, that is their own fault.

Hibs are within their rights to ask for as many tickets as possible and the argument that the SPFL should have allocated a 50/50 split and then worked their way back from there does have some merit. But the League are right to take a hard stance here.

This situation arises every time the Old Firm head to Hampden and the supporters who pack Ibrox and Parkhead on a weekly basis – and put hundreds of thousands of pounds into clubs across the country every season – shouldn’t miss out because fair weather opposition punters fancy a ticket for the big day. Where is the integrity in that?

If Hibs fans can’t be bothered turning out in greater numbers for the semi-final with Rangers, then they shouldn’t get a huge bump in allocation for the Celtic clash.

The loyalty of Old Firm fans should be rewarded, not taken for granted, and there will be many deserving supporters who will miss out as demand outstrips supply.

Ross will no doubt be annoyed for his players and on behalf of his supporters. That is understandable and his position should be respected.

But save the sporting integrity rubbish. Keep that line for the next outrage and moral crusade that will hit our game sooner rather than later.