Alex Rae: Rangers need to win games like tonight at Hearts

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It’s a busy day in the Ladbrokes Premiership, with Rangers taking on Hearts tonight, and ahead of the clash we sought the views of former Gers hero Alex Rae.

In an exclusive chat with Ladbrokes News, the ex-Falkirk and Dundee ace Rae gives his views on how tonight’s Tynecastle clash will go.

The former Sunderland midfielder also shared his thoughts on Ian Cathro’s start to life as Hearts boss, plus the evergreen talents of his former Wolves team-mate Kenny Miller.

So, we’ll leave it to the man himself…

Rangers have done well since the break. They got the win at the weekend and they were relatively comfortable.

Motherwell had a good opportunity for the early parts of the game but when it went to 10 against 10 it was just a matter of time. So Rangers will go into this game with plenty of confidence, particularly with the two new boys Emerson Hyndman and Jon Toral just settling in.

They’ll want to avoid a repeat of the last time they went to Tynecastle though, when they kind of got battered 2-0, in Robbie Neilson’s last game.

The game will be a bit of an unknown too, due to Hearts signing nine players in the January window, so they won’t know what exactly the Jam Tarts are going to bring in terms of changes tonight.

But from a Rangers point of view they have consistency and they know what the team is. They’ll be confident as they’ll expect Hearts to bring in a couple of their new signings and gel them together, which won’t have happened overnight.

When you’re making changes of that magnitude ideally you’d bring in all these players in the summer, and use that time to bring them together so I think Rangers will go into this game feeling like they can win.

And another thing, Rangers need to win games like this if they’re to cement second place ahead of the rest.

Oh – and my tip tonight is Kenny Miller to score first and Rangers to win 3-1 at 60/1!

On Ian Cathro’s first few months at Hearts

I’ve been in that position myself, where you go into a new environment and you want to freshen up some players and bring in some new faces.

There’s been a couple exits at Hearts with Igor Rossi going abroad, and Ian’s lost a couple to the Africa Cup of Nations. So it’s not an ideal situation, and the actual results haven’t been great, considering they were sitting in second place.

So Ian and Hearts will be looking to win as soon as possible, but I think if they lose tonight they will have won one in seven in the league which isn’t a great start for Ian.

And then they go to Motherwell at the weekend, which is always tricky, and I think they’ve got Hibernian in the Cup, so the next few games will be paramount in terms of what the perception will be in and around Hearts.

Miller is a fantastic role model for young Gers players

The guy’s been brilliant. I was fortunate to play with Kenny for three years at Wolves when we got promoted into the Premier League. The thing with Kenny, which you need at clubs like Rangers is he has a winning mentality and a lot of leadership qualities.

You can understand why he’s played for Rangers in several spells, and for big clubs like Wolves and Celtic, when you take all these factors in you’ve got a guy who epitomises everything you would want from someone of his age. There’s a lot of young guys at Rangers who look up to him.

And the other thing about Kenny is he’s always in the right place at the right time. Whether it be a tap-in or another goal further out, he’s always in the right place.  He’s been sensational for Rangers and I think it’s only a matter of time before they give him another year.

Even if he doesn’t play all the time, if he starts winding it down a little, when he doesn’t play so much you will want players like Miller in and around the club. It’s still very much a transitional phase for Rangers trying to get back to rivalling Celtic.

Second-place is a must to show signs of progression

I think, prior to the season, there was a slight perception that Rangers could make a challenge. But when you step back from that statement – it was mainly from fans – and you look at the reality, then it’s quite obvious to see that the club were always going to struggle to compete with the financial might of Celtic.

They’ve been signing guys like Scott Sinclair for £3.5m, so when you anaylse that and get the perspective of the Rangers situation, because of the their budget, second place is where Warburton will be judged.

Now he’s currently there at the moment, and really that’s as far as he can probably get. However, if he doesn’t achieve second place there will be big question marks over the progression that’s been made.

When you take second place and their cup run this season, they’ve done reasonably well. And of course there was a high turnover of players in the summer, some which didn’t work out like Barton, or Kranjcar who is injured.

Hartley will keep the Dark Blues up

I have no doubt at all that Paul Hartley will keep Dundee up. The good thing about Dundee and the new American board is they do their business in the summer very early, so they always try and get their targets, and give themselves time to get organised.

And in addition to that, they did a bit of business last night bringing in Henrik Ojamaa to complement Marcus Haber, and they’ve got the young boy Craig Wighton who has a bright future.

And the other thing for Dundee is their home record where they’ve been strong at Dens Park. On the road they haven’t been great, but the home record and Paul’s experience should be more than enough.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Alex Rae

A Scottish Premiership and League Cup winner with Rangers, Alex has also enjoyed spells at Falkirk, Dundee and a host of English clubs. and is well placed to offer insightful views on the game. Read his thoughts exclusively at Ladbrokes News.