Are Rangers risking another year in the Championship?

It has been a tough time for Rangers in the past few years. Liquidation in 2012 led to the club reforming in the Scottish Third Division for the start of the 2012/13 season. Back-to-back promotions have since followed but life in the Championship has been tougher than expected. And with financial troubles since lingering, the club are facing a very uncertain time on and off the pitch.

After the ease in which Rangers were promoted in the last two seasons, many expected something similar this season. Although with Hearts and Hibernian also competing, it was never going to be as easy. The squad stayed more or less the same, with former strikers Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd joining the team.

The squad assembled over the years has plenty or experience and quality to cope at this level but performances at times haven’t been up to the mark. Obviously the whole situation with Ally McCoist leaving the club hasn’t helped but they should be performing a lot better in the league. They have been excellent in the cups so far, still in both after several victories over Premiership teams, making their recent league form even more mind-boggling.

The 3-2 defeat against Alloa after being 2-0 up in the Challenge Cup, is where things started to go wrong. Ally McCoist handed in his resignation but still took charge for the next couple of fixtures, which included a dismal defeat to Queen of the South. Kenny McDowall’s first game in charge ended in disaster with a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Hibernian. Rangers’ record against their two biggest promotion rivals – Hearts and Hibernian – has been shocking, losing both.

The 4-0 loss to Hibernian highlighted a number of issues for Rangers. Defensively they were extremely poor throughout, with the defence all over the place, especially for the goals. Lack of marking led to the first goal, although it was a cracker from David Gray.

But the next three goals all came from poor defending and were the result of giving the ball away too easily. This is simply not good enough for an experienced defence the includes the likes of Lee Wallace and Lee McCulloch who both have played at a higher level.

They didn’t look good in front of goal and throughout the season both Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd have disappointed in the league. Because of this Rangers have had to rely on goals from elsewhere, with midfielder Nicky Law top scoring with six goals so far. The whole team were disorganised and didn’t look hungry enough with Hibs simply wanting the victory a lot more.

The defeat means Rangers are in second place, 15 points behind Hearts and now just four points above Hibs. Given their record against Hearts and Hibs this season, 15 points looks too big a mountain to climb. This would mean their only chance of promotion is through the play-offs. With a place in the play-offs looking pretty safe, the fact that it will be likely that they will face Hibs then the 11th place Premiership team to secure promotion, their chances are looking extremely tough.