WHEN you think back to December 29, everyone associated with Rangers – the manager, players, supporters - were on a high and were wondering if this could be our year to win the Premiership.

It was said that if we won our game in hand then we could be top of the league.

But it has gone wrong ever since the winter break and, here we are, facing two huge games in a few days against Braga and Hearts. It could go either of two ways.

If Rangers can win both games then that would be fantastic for Steven Gerrard and it would raise the spirits a wee bit following the draw with St Johnstone.

Or, it could be a disaster and you could be staring at the nightmare scenario. You don’t want to be sitting on Saturday evening with a 12 point gap to Celtic in the Premiership, out of the Europa League and out of the Scottish Cup.

The players need to get a grip of themselves over the next couple of days and they need to do a lot better than they have been doing for the last few weeks.

They showed a lot of fight and spirit to come back from 2-0 down against Braga last week and that is what we need to see in Portugal tonight and at Tynecastle on Saturday.

If the players have anything about them, they will put in two performances. Hopefully those performances will then be rewarded with big results.

These guys are here because they want to play for a big club and to win things. Well, to do that you need to stand up and be counted and that is what they need to show now.

It is a really important couple of games for the manager as well. He has come in for a bit of criticism himself recently but that won’t faze him and he will understand that it comes with the job.

When things are going well, everyone is in a great place and the mood around the club and in the support is all positive. It is all rosy.

But when it turns, everything is looked at and people start picking holes in signings, tactics, team selections, substitutions.

Of course the fans are disappointed and frustrated these days, but the manager will be feeling that as much as anyone right now.

He knows how good these players can be and what level this side can hit and he sees them doing well in training every day. But you need to show that in games and Rangers haven’t done that since the start of the year.

They now find themselves facing these two really important fixtures against Braga and Hearts and Rangers don’t want to be heading to Tynecastle on the back of a Europa League exit.

If we are to stay in this competition, we will have to defend better. If there is a repeat of the performance against St Johnstone then Rangers will have no chance.

Braga could have scored four or five goals at Ibrox last week so they will be very dangerous on their own pitch and, for me, Rangers should look to do what teams have done against them all season.

You get men behind the ball, you deny them space, you get in their face and you don’t allow them to play. You frustrate and stifle them and then you have to take your chance when it comes along.

If Rangers could get away with a draw, what a result that would be. I don’t care if it is the worst game of the season, it is all about getting through to the next round.

Rangers will only get that if they play as a team and a unit. You can’t have a handful of players off it and making basic mistakes and expect to win games at this level.

The errors that Rangers are making are being punished time after time and teams don’t have to work hard to score against us. It is too easy and that must stop.

When teams come to Ibrox, they get everyone back and they deny us space to play. We know how hard that is to come up against and get through it, so use that experience and carry out that plan for your benefit for a change.

You can't be giving silly fouls away near the box or try to be too clever. When things aren't going for you defensively, you make sure you do the basics right first and foremost.

Rangers have a chance of progressing and if they play the way they can then there is no doubt they can get the right result and get into the last 16.

Braga are a fine side. They have excellent individual players but they are a good unit as well. They are fit, technically very good and they pass the ball quickly.

It was a great comeback from Rangers in the first leg but this game tonight will be even tougher and if we give Braga time and space on the ball then it will only end badly.

This side is capable of so much better and it has the ability and the mentality to get a result in Portugal. What a lift that would give them then going into the Hearts game.

Two wins in four days is the dream scenario for Rangers.

Now they must make it a reality and keep the campaign alive both domestically and in Europe to give the supporters something to look forward to over the next few weeks.


Davie Cooper was the best player that I played with at Rangers and he was in my thoughts once again on what would have been his 64th birthday on Tuesday. I can't believe next month will be 25 years since his death.

Saying Coop was the best is no disrespect to some of the wonderful players, true legends, that I played with. He was a genius, though, and his legacy still lives on with anyone that was fortunate enough to see him play.

It seems as though it was yesterday that Coop died. I am thinking about his family and friends at this sad time.