This article was written by Sam Sneddon. Follow him on Twitter (@samjsneddon) and Instagram (@samjsneddon).
It’s quite clear to say that Celtic are the favourites to win the league this year, but could Rangers snap a second place finish in the Scottish Premiership?
Rangers will be hoping for second after a disappointing thrid place finish last year which had them 39 points behind Celtic, however, many are asking if they can actually do it. Let’s look at what they’ve got and what they need and to get a top two finish:
Pedro Caixinha (Rangers’ new manager)
Mark Warburton caused some confusion for Rangers fans in February after the club announced that they had accepted his resignation as manager, despite him saying otherwise. It was later realised that he had requested to leave to join Nottingham Forrest, but they rejected him. Warburton rather quickly joined Forrest in the end, causing major upset to the Gers fans.
Hope was not lost, though, as Graeme Murty rose from the under-21’s and took charge. Despite having a rocky first few games, he soon got on track and his last match was a 1-1 draw with Celtic. By this point, we knew that Pedro Caixinha was going to be the 17th permanent manager of Rangers.
Caixinha’s appointment seemed to be a good one for Rangers with some very good wins, but a few disappointments. One thing that sparked some anger in fans was their 5-1 loss at home - the second time Rangers had lost by this score-line.
It had been 6 years since Rangers had been competed in a European competiton, but their first game back was a disappointing loss to Luxembourg minnows Progrès Niederkorn. Many were seriously worried about how Rangers were going to do next season. They totally made up for that in pre-season though following a draw against Marseille, a win over Premier League team Watford and another over Sheffield Wednesday
They kicked off the start of the new season with a 2-1 away win over Motherwell and a 6-0 league cup win against Dunfermline.
Rangers were yet again angry, this time not at Caixinha but at referee John Beaton, who had made some obviously biased decisions against Rangers in their game against Hibernian. This game involved Tavernier receiving a yellow card for a seemingly unknown reason after Hibs player, Anthony Stokes, dragged him down in a headlock. Ryan Jack was also given a red card after his head collided with Stokes, presumably a retaliation to Stokes’ attack on Jack’s neck. The red card was successfully appealed after the game.
Pedro Caixinha could help solve some Rangers’ problems, helping them get closer to achieving that second place finish they so desperately desire.
Pedro Caixinha has made some massive changes to the squad this season and has successfully completed ten out of his projected eleven summer signings. Some of these players include Daniel Candeias, Euro 2016 winner Bruno Alves, Graham Dorrans and Manchester City loanee Aaron Nemane.
Here’s a bit more information on some of those signings:
Bruno Alves is a brilliant defender best known for helping Portugal win the Euro 2016 last year, and almost taking off Harry Kane’s head in an international friendly.
Speaking about Rangers’ new centre-back, the boss said: “He’s a great boy, a great man that this club needs, especially having at the back that sort of leadership and experience and understanding of the game.”
Alves is considered one of Rangers’ best signings this year, showing some brilliant performances and already making a great impact on the defence. He’s displayed his great ability on free kick duty after a screamer against Dunfermline.
He’s received a lot of praise recently from teammates, pundits and fans and his performance against Marseille was outstanding. In fact, it was only once Alves was taken off that Marseille managed to equalise.
Ryan Jack, previously Aberdeen’s captain, has shown performed brilliantly recently and looks like he’ll be a crucial part of Rangers’ campaign this season. Caixinha snatched up Jack from under Aberdeen’s nose as he had less than six months left on his contract. This caused upset to some of the Dons’ fans with many immediately turning against their captain.
If Jack grabs a few goals from midfield and keeps good possession, he’ll definitely be on course for a great season.
Carlos Pena is a midfielder who recently joined from Mexican side Guadalajara, becoming Ranger’s seventh signing. He is yet to play a competitive match with Pedro Caixinha saying that he needs “a little more time” and is currently receiving “special training”. Many fans claim they think that he has an alcohol problem, but Caixinha is adamant that he just “adapting” and “needs to get fitter”. Kris Boyd has spoken out recently in an article for the Sun saying that ‘the Rangers fans have a right to know why Pena has hardly kicked a ball.” That’s a fair comment considering Rangers paid at least £2 million for him. Only time will tell if Carlos Pena is worth the value of his price tag.
Rangers latest signing, Aaron Nemane, is a winger who plays for Manchester City. The 19-year-old is on loan until January at Rangers. He is a French-born player who has trained with Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham and Patrick Roberts, so he might have an insight into how they play. Rangers also signed another winger on loan, Dalcio, who - despite many people’s initial thoughts - seems to have been a flop.
Nemane has whipped up a lot of excitement among fans as they looked at his talent and his young age, but this player has still got a lot to prove.
Most people feel Rangers have done well in the transfer window, but there are a few who think it won't be enough. The Light Blues, of course, do not expect to win the league this year, but a second place finish would be brilliant. Celtic are not the only club to pose a threat to Rangers, though;
Aberdeen finished 2nd last season after a rather successful campaign that left them 32 points behind top-placed Celtic. But how will their performance this season turn out?
Aberdeen have signed a few new players like Stevie May and Kari Arnason to name a few. They lost Jonny Hayes to Celtic and captain Ryan Jack to Rangers for free, two crucial players in their squad.
They had a bad start to their Europa League, like Rangers, losing to a relatively unknown side called Apollon Limmasol, but made up for it with three wins from three in the league. On their fourth game, against Patrick Thistle away, they drew 3-3.
Hibs and Aberdeen are the two favourites to fight against Rangers for that second place spot. Hibs just got promoted to the Premiership this season after a successful campaign in the Championship, and they look very strong going into this season. They started the league with a few wins but then were faced with an embarrassing 3-1 loss against Hamilton Accies, who fought against relegation last season.
Their win against Rangers didn’t prove much, though, as many say the referee helped them win that game.
Can Hibs or Aberdeen finish in the top two? Or will Rangers perform well enough to become runners-up? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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