Alex Rae: Rangers dream start set to continue

There’s an old cliché in football that no one has ever won the title in September and while that is true it’s hard to see anyone stopping Rangers at the moment.

I’ve seen five or six games live games already this season and Mark Warburton’s side are absolutely steamrolling teams.

They are playing a great brand of football and I can’t see anyone beating them at the moment. It was a wee bit closer in the game against Hibs but they’ve still beaten them twice so they look like they’ll continue in this vein of form, particularly in the league.

It may well be different against St Johnstone in the cup as that will be a sterner challenge but it will be interesting to see how they cope with that step up.

I’ve got a few friends who have bet on Rangers scoring over 100 goals so they’re all praying for the current run to continue and I think they might just be celebrating at the end of the season.

Gers need five or six players in order to compete next year

There is certainly a feel good factor at Ibrox at present but there will be a renewed excitement if they do get back to the top flight because of the time away from Celtic.

However, as soon as they return they will be expected to beat Celtic to the title, that’s just the way it is. I think if Mark can continue with this style of play and add a few new players they could be a real threat to Celtic next year.

I’ve seen a lot of the Premiership this year and with the team Rangers have got at the moment I honestly think they could challenge for second or third. But that won’t be good enough for the fans so they’ll need to bring in five or six players to compete for the title.

The only reason I say that is because while Celtic may be struggling a little bit at the moment they have international players all across the park,  guys from Israel, Sweden, Croatia and so on, so they have a wide range of experienced players to call on and Rangers will need to bring in players of that ilk to compete.

The good thing is though, as we’ve seen with Hearts’ start to the season and Aberdeen too, is that momentum is huge in football and if Rangers can continue scoring four goals a game, with the addition with half a dozen players they can really take the title chase to Celtic next year.

Warburton right to shun January shopping spree

The manager has been assured that funds will be there if he wishes to strengthen in January but he’s gone on record as saying he won’t be looking to do anything too drastic in the winter window and I think he’s right to plan that way.

It’s refreshing for a manager to say he probably won’t add in January. He’s got confidence in his squad and I spoke to him recently and he said he likes to operate with a 22-man squad to in order to create some togetherness.

He also rotates so everyone is getting match time and everyone is being kept on their toes. If he did dip in to the January transfer market it would only be to cover for an injury or perhaps fast track someone who would already have been a summer target anyway.

The thing with Rangers is they haven’t really had much of a scouting network over the last couple of years and Mark will have to build up a database, building on his work at Brentford, before he can go about assembling a squad for the Premiership.

One thing he has done already though is incorporate a style of play that the fans are buying into. He’s brought a unity back to the club. The fans have been dying to get behind the Rangers regime and with a new board and Mark’s style of play they can.

Everything is aligned for success for the team and Mark has been a key part of that. His mantra is to send the fans home happy and he is doing that that. He was recently names Ladbrokes Manager of the Month for the Championship and he thoroughly deserves that accolade as he was a late appointment and to have turned it around, got the fans on board and bring a feel good factor to Ibrox in such a short time is a tremendous achievement.


Warburton and Tavernier accept their trophies from Ladbrokes



Tavernier is a special talent

Another individual singled out for praise is James Tavernier, who scooped the Ladbrokes Player of the Month award.

James is still relatively young but has already proven he is a top talent. We had him on loan when I was at MK Dons and you could see then that while he is a defender he is also very attack minded.

I saw him at Alloa and without exaggeration he must have had at least 10 shots at goal. The system that Mark employs suits him perfectly and I’m looking forward to the cup game with St Johnstone to see how he copes when he’s tested at the back.

They have a wee boy called Michael O’Halloran and he’s a decent little winger too so it will be good to see how Tavs copes with him as it’s a breeze for him in the league at the moment.

He has all the attributes of a modern full back, he bombs forward at will, is scoring goals for fun and rightly deserves to be crowned player of the month.

He has got a real chance of kicking on and it won’t be long before he’s being touted for a move back to England but when you’re playing in front of 45,000 adoring fans, scoring goals on a regular basis and winning week-in, week-out why would you want to leave?

Tavs has been at a few clubs in his career already and he seems to be settled now. I’ve seen players who have been flying at clubs where the style of play suits their game and then go somewhere else and bomb so that’s something he should consider if an offer comes in.

I’d advise him to keep his feet under the table and enjoy what’s going on at Rangers and maybe move on if someone comes in for him further down the line.

Dave King is right to want Gers back in Europe

Dave King recently said he wants Rangers to target a cup win so they can return to European competition as soon as possible. Some people have said it will be too much too soon and they should concentrate on having a good first season back in the Premiership, but I couldn’t agree more.

For a club of Rangers’ size they need to be in Europe. If they get there by winning a cup, which I think they can do this season, it will show them the sort of level that they need to reach if they are going to be consistently playing in Europe.

Falkirk showed last year that they can compete. They were doing really well in the final until a late counter attack from Inverness. No disrespect to Falkirk but if they can go that close there’s no reason to think that Rangers can’t go all the way, especially with the form they’re in.

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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.