Gordon Smith: Warburton simply must get Rangers up


Mark Warburton has been handed the reins at my old club Rangers and he simply has to take them back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

It’s very much a requirement of him after the huge blow of last year’s play-off. It’s a massive disappointment for a club like Rangers to be nestling once again the Championship. The goal is to get the club up and the desire among the board to do that is obvious.

Mark has a bit of a reputation for getting the most out of young players and he hasn’t spent a load of money but he has managed to bring in the players he wants and he’s made that very clear.

It’s looking promising for them too. They got off to a fantastic start last week against the club who I think will be their biggest promotion rivals. It was tremendous to get the win against Hibs and the comfortable fashion with which they achieved it hints at good things to come.

Mark’s brought in some senior players and there are some who were already at the club so he needed to bring in some good, talented, young players who are very much up for it and that’s what he’s done.

The challenge now is to allay those players to senior members of the squad who can offer them help and advice. You have to have that balance in your team and it looks as though Mark has achieved that. Promotion this year is vital though, so if it’s not good enough I’m sure he’ll be allowed to go and recruit in January.

He’ll have the backing of the board but it will depend on the funds available and who he wants to bring in as to who they will be able to get.

Gers won’t get Hibs star Scott Allan

Scott Allan is the player everyone is talking about and with him there is an element of weakening Hibs as well as strengthening Rangers and that’s what makes him so appealing.

But more than that he’s a serious talent. He was voted top player in the Championship last year, is a known Rangers supporter and would definitely improve the squad. However, I don’t think Rangers are going to get him.

Boyd’s return can help Kilmarnock avoid the drop

Another of my old sides, Kilmarnock, have done a great bit of business in bringing Kris Boyd back to the club. His presence will be a big factor in their push to improve on what was a poor season last year.

Killie endured the worst run of defeats in their entire history last season and they’ve made a few changes this summer so they need to work out the best team.

I went to see Boyd in a friendly last week and he looked a different player. At Rangers last season, he didn’t look the player at all that he had previously appeared to be but he scored that night and grabbed two more against Fleetwood, so he will be a key factor if they are to avoid bottom spot.

It’ll be a case of it being down to Kris and what he does as to whether they can stay up. I think they could be in trouble but, if I was pushed to place a bet, I’d back them to avoid the drop.

Beat Celtic and Aberdeen can win the Premiership

Celtic are definitely the clear favourites to retain their title and deservedly so; you have to expect that they will win the league.

However, when Celtic beat Aberdeen to go 11 points clear last season that was the league tied up, but what a lot of people failed to realise was that if Aberdeen had even managed to win two home games against Celtic, the points swing would have been huge.

The big test for Aberdeen this season is to see if they can take points of Celtic – that will make a big, big difference.

If they can win their home games and turn that around, they can definitely be right in with a chance of winning the league.

It’s a 12-point turnaround if they can win those home games rather than losing all four matches with Celtic like last year. They could be genuine contenders if they can somehow do that, especially if Celtic have their concentration impeded by being involved in the Champions League.

Hearts will be this year’s surprise package

I saw Hearts a few times last season and Robbie Neilson has done very well in his first job as a manager.

Many people don’t expect a promoted team to do well on their first year back in the Premiership but I believe Hearts have got a good manager in Robbie, a good collection of players and will be able to secure a top-six finish this year.

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Gordon Smith

Former Rangers and Kilmarnock forward Gordon Smith is a name synonymous with Scottish football having enjoyed a successful playing career before being appointed head of the SFA and then working as a highly respected pundit. Read his exclusive thoughts on the SPFL at Ladbrokes News.