Glasgow Rangers manager Michael Beale has had an impressive start to life in Glasgow, recording four straight victories since the resumption of the Premiership season two weeks ago and this has surely boosted the confidence ahead of a momentous Old Firm derby on Monday afternoon.
Beale will find out exactly what his side are really made of when Celtic arrive at Ibrox for the traditional new year derby and a victory for them will almost certainly end the club’s title ambitions this season.
There is plenty of work to be done, both on and off the pitch ahead of a crucial 2023 and the Englishman does have an advantage in that he coached a few members of the squad during his spell as first-team coach under Steven Gerrard between 2018-2021.
January will see a few players move from the Ibrox side along with a couple of incoming transfers as the manager tries to rejuvenate his squad, however one player he must keep faith in is Kemar Roofe.
On the surface, it’s hard to immediately justify this claim, especially considering he has missed 56 games through injury in just over two years at the club.
In the same time period, the 29-year-old has scored 34 goals for the Light Blues in 74 matches and has underlined his credentials by scoring against the likes of Celtic plus in big European matches, such as the Europa League quarter-final tie against Braga last season, where he netted an injury time winner.
Roofe was arguably at his best under Gerrard during his first season in Glasgow as the club won the 2020/2021 Scottish title undefeated.
The forward averaged a rating of 7.12 across his 24 matches that season, scoring 14 goals and grabbing three assists, playing an integral part in a team that dominated the league.
He even scored ten league goals last term, despite playing just 21 matches and when he is fit, he is arguably one of the club’s finest attacking players.
Gerrard enjoyed having the former Leeds United frontman in his team, enjoying his ability to work well in any formation and his incredible work rate, which led to the Englishman to dub him the “Duracell Bunny” and Beale will be aiming to have him showcase these abilities as soon as possible.
The £26k-per-week star still has 18 months remaining on his current contract, and if he wants an extension, he will need to get fit and return to the form he showed two years ago when Beale was also at the club.