STEVEN Gerrard offered the perfect riposte to the reporter who suggested that Rangers had not “kicked into life” this season in the wake of a 1-1 draw against Motherwell in a cinch Premiership match at Ibrox back in September.

“Why are we not into life?” he asked his inquisitor. “Is being top of the league not to your liking?”

Gerrard had many qualities that helped him to flourish during his three-and-a-half years in Glasgow – but his ability to ignore the outcry that erupted following a bad result or during a dip in form was invaluable to him.

The former Liverpool and England captain had a point on that occasion.

Yes, his men had failed to reproduce the sort of form they had showed when they went undefeated in the top flight and won their first Scottish title in 10 years the season before. But they had won the first Old Firm game of the 2021/22 campaign and were out in front in the league.

Since then, they have extended their lead to four points as well as given themselves a chance of reaching the knockout rounds of the Europa League for the third successive occasion. Crisis? What crisis?

The Scottish champions still, despite their difficulties, have talented players in every position and there is really no good reason why they cannot enjoy further success at home and abroad in the months ahead. 

However, as their dire display in a painful 3-1 defeat to Hibernian in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final at Hampden yesterday underlined, they are in need of a lift, of another approach, of, not to put too fine a point on it, a boot up the backside. 

Connor Goldson, the vice-captain, conceded as much when he was interviewed afterwards. “We need a change,” he said. “I feel like we’ve lost a bit of hunger. Hopefully the new manager can come in and give us a spark.”

Gerrard’s sudden departure for Aston Villa earlier this month angered and disappointed Rangers supporters. But the arrival of Giovanni van Bronckhorst could be exactly what they require at this juncture. The Dutchman will have fresh ideas and want his charges to play a new way. He could possibly utilise different personnel.

Rangers need a new manager bounce to get their mojo back and prevent their season from unravelling.

Glasgow Times:


The sacking of top flight managers just months after they have been lauded by ecstatic fans and grateful directors for winning promotion is a common and unfortunate phenomenon in modern football.

But it is very hard to have much sympathy for Daniel Farke, whose services were dispensed with by Norwich City, the club he led to the Championship last term, a fortnight ago, given his bizarre treatment of Billy Gilmour.

The Scot, who moved to Carrow Road from Chelsea on a season-long loan in the summer in order to get regular first team matches, fell out of favour with Farke during a record 15 game losing run in the Premier League.

His omission was perplexing. He retained his place in the national team during that period and was outstanding in the wins over Austria, Israel, the Faroe Islands, Moldova and Denmark which secured a Qatar play-off spot and a seeding for the semi-final in March.

The midfielder made his first league start in over two months on Saturday and inspired the East Anglian outfit to a 2-1 victory over Southampton at home. He bossed the centre of the park, supplied the corner that his countryman Grant Hanley scored the winner from and was named Man of the Match at the end of the 90 minutes.

Dean Smith, who replaced Farke, was rewarded for restoring Gilmour to the Norwich starting line-up and then some. It is inconceivable the 20-year-old will be overlooked from now on. That can only be a positive for Steve Clarke and for Scotland.

Glasgow Times:


Expectations among the Tartan Army are not quite at the level they were ahead of their ill-fated and infamous sojurn to Argentina for the World Cup in 1978.

Yet, there has probably never been such optimism about the national team’s prospects at any stage in the 43 years since. 

The country has an experienced, shrewd and respected manager in charge in Clarke, a system that works and a number of excellent players who are plying their trade at a high level with their clubs.

The magnificent 2-0 win over Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark at Hampden a week ago today showed they should fear no rival in the Qatar 2022 play-offs.

Still, the quality of sides they will be pitted against in the semi-final draw in Zurich in Switzerland on Friday is high and they will have to reproduce the same standard of performance if they are to progress.

North Macedonia would appear to be the easiest of the six teams they could face. But they beat Germany away in March. Elsewhere, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine are all, on their day, formidable.

Andy Robertson and his team mates will all have to be at their very best to secure the win they need to go through to the final. Where they could face any of the aforementioned nations or Italy, Portugal, Russia, Sweden or Wales away. There is an awful lot of football still to be played.

Glasgow Times: