“Rangers v Falkirk (5)” (CC BY 2.0) by daniel0685
After a few years in the doldrums, Rangers are back in the top flight. Mark Warburton’s men have come a long way after the most difficult spell in the club’s long-standing history and they are now on the verge of challenging arch-rivals Celtic for the Scottish title. However, it would be foolish to dismiss Aberdeen and Hearts; both clubs are much improved and the Scottish Premiership is more competitive than ever before.
Rangers will take plenty of confidence from their Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Celtic at the end of last season. On their day, Gers are capable of toppling their great rivals and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the 54-time Scottish champions claim yet another major title at the end of the upcoming campaign. It will all depend on their consistency against the top flight’s “lesser” sides – they have been phenomenal in the last few years and could take plenty of confidence from their ability to hold on after taking a lead.
At the time of writing, Warburton’s side are 3/1 in Bet365’s SPL betting markets and they might just be the value bet for the new season. Celtic are currently 2/7 to retain their crown but Brendan Rodgers’ tenure got off to the worst possible start as the Bhoys suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history against Lincoln Red Imps in their Champions League qualifier.
While Celtic recovered in the second leg, that particular result showed that Rodgers’ men can be guilty of complacency – something that you just cannot do if you want to win the title. If Rangers can pile the pressure on and maintain a genuine bid throughout the entire campaign, Celtic could well crumble; just like Rodgers’ Liverpool did in the 2013-14 Premier League season.
On paper, Rangers cannot compete with Celtic on a player-by-player basis but there’s no denying that Warburton’s side have plenty of passion, hunger and desire to succeed at the top level. After a few years out of the top flight, Rangers may struggle to inspire confidence but it could work the other way – they are playing with very little pressure on their shoulders. And playing as the underdog could actually suit Rangers over the course of the season…
It won’t be easy but Rangers have the talent, the experience and the management skills to compete against the very best sides in Scotland. While Aberdeen and Hearts are much improved, Rangers will be quietly confident of finishing above both clubs. From there, it is all about the two Glaswegian sides and it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Gers topple their old foes. The Old Firm derbies will be important but Rangers’ consistency and ability to deal with the pressure when it matters most may come into play as Celtic crumble…