To say Rangers’ first season back in the Scottish Premiership has been hectic would be an understatement. Here we assess the light blues’ season and take a closer look at the huge rebuilding job that lies ahead for Gers boss Pedro Caixinha over the summer.
Despite lying third in the league table with Europa League football already secured for next season, the majority of the Ibrox faithful are disappointed with how the club’s first season back in the top flight has panned out.
It is no hidden secret that for the foreseeable future Rangers cannot financially compete with old firm rivals Celtic.
Nevertheless ahead of this season, many Rangers supporters were optimistic of competing with Celtic after a ‘successful’ summer transfer window.
The name Joey Barton springs to mind.
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Former boss Mark Warburton managed to lure Burnley’s player of the year to Ibrox on a free-transfer in what could have been the club’s finest signing in recent times.
The hope was for Barton to emulate the role of Celtic’s skipper Scott Brown.
But the move summed up a frustrating season.
Barton was brought in to act as both a tough tackling midfielder and a mentor to younger players such as Jordan Rossiter and Josh Windass.
Instead the former England International looked a shadow of himself and continuously struggled to adapt to life in Scotland.
Barton featured just 8 times for Rangers before a training ground incident involving team-mate Andy Halliday resulted in his contract being terminated in November.
Whereas former Liverpool prodigy Rossiter has barely kicked a ball for the club.
Former Premier League players Philippe Senderos and Niko Kranjcar have spent the majority of their tenures on the substitutes bench and treatment table.
Although the latter did begin to perform well before suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.
In the end what appeared to be a promising recruitment process, eventually evolved into the source of the side’s downfall.
A 5-1 away defeat to Celtic just one of the many low moments before Warburton’s resignation in February.
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Pedro Caixinha was appointed boss in March and has overseen a slight resurgence, including notable victories over Aberdeen and Hamilton.
Not to mention last weekend’s 2-1 win at Partick.
Joe Garner’s injury time winner secured a Europa League qualifier tie for the light blues.
Ultimately, Caixinha’s reign has been overshadowed by two underwhelming defeats to Celtic.
The Gers lost 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden before being humiliated 5-1 (for a second time this campaign), this time at Ibrox just a week later.
Exits and Incomings
Consistently scoring goals has proved to be a struggle for Rangers during the campaign.
Martyn Waghorn is currently the club’s top scorer having scored 15 goals.
Nevertheless don’t be surprised if he isn’t a Rangers player next season as Caixinha seeks to revamp his squad.
Hibs striker Jason Cummings would be an obvious choice.
With a proven pedigree in Scottish football, the 21 year old would bring much needed pace and power to a deflated Rangers front-line.
Cummings proved pivotal in his sides title winning season scoring 23 goals in all competitions.
Although it is highly unlikely Hibs will sell him ahead of their first season back in the top flight, especially to a rival.
A cheaper alternative could be Motherwell’s top scorer Louis Moult.
Likewise to Hibs with Cummings, Well would be reluctant to sell to a scottish club.
Moult is entering the final year of his contract, meaning he could leave for free in the summer if he doesn’t sign a new contract.
Finally, this move may be a long-shot but if Rangers are to match the quality that Celtic have in Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths they need to explore loan deals and free transfers when seeking quality additions.
Dominic Solanke could be a realistic option if the club could strike an agreement with Chelsea regarding his high wages.
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It was recently leaked by The Daily Record that Michael O’Halloran, Harry Forrester and Rob Kiernan have been recently called into Auchenhowie for 6am extra fitness sessions.
The trio have struggled for form this term and could well face the exit door as Pedro Caixinha looks to revamp his squad.
O’Halloran and Forrester in particular have found game time limited.
The former has endured so much frustration that he even went AWOL for a recent Under 20 fixture.
In addition to this, wide reports suggest that veteran Clint Hill is set to be released by the club.
This is despite the former QPR man being one of the team’s most consistent performers this season.
A long term signing could arrive in the form of Ben Heneghan from Motherwell, with a bid rumoured to be on the cards.
But if Rangers are after a like for like replacement, Christophe Berra appears to be the most suitable candidate.
The 32 year old has recently been released from Ipswich in order to return to Scotland for family reasons and would bring premier league experience to the fold.
Although Hearts are allegedly interested in bringing the Scotland International back to Tynecastle so Rangers would have to act quickly.
Earlier in the month, Norwich City released several high profile players including former blues Steven Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty.
It’s thought that Steven Naismith could soon follow them out of Carrow Road and the trio have made it no secret that they would be open to a return to Ibrox.
The question is however, whether they would be welcomed back to Govan after their controversial exits in 2012.
As a result of them being released by the Canaries, Rangers would be able to add much needed quality to the squad without being forced to fork out any fees.
This would surely be welcomed by the board due to the limited budget Caixinha will have to work with.
The Portuguese faces an arduous task of rebuilding the club but if recruitment is tackled early, done well and a fresh direction is brought to the side’s way of playing.
There is no reason Rangers can’t go on their way to being great again.
Shape is a major concern as the current 4-3-3 system comes with an element of predictability.
Caixinha must also unearth a way to get the best out of £1.8 million man Joe Garner.
One things for sure, the summer transfer window promises to be an intriguing one.