Five reasons for Rangers to be optimistic ahead of 2016/17

Rangers have a had a hard battle reaching the Scottish Premiership. Four seasons in Scottish football’s lower leagues would test the patience of any fan, never mind those following one of the nation’s biggest clubs.

The supporters have stayed true to their team and backed them all the way, through, still pouring into Ibrox in their tens of thousands year after year. Now they’re set to be rewarded with a renewed attempt to win some serious silverware.

Most of them are counting down the seconds to kick-off, anticipating a banner season for the club.

Here are FIVE reasons Rangers fans can be optimistic ahead of 2016/17…

That cup run

Football Soccer - Rangers v Celtic - William Hill Scottish Cup Semi Final - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland - 17/4/16 Barry McKay scores the second goal for Rangers as Celtic's Craig Gordon attempts save Action Images via Reuters / Russell Cheyne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

When Barry McKay’s 25-yard top corner effort almost burst Craig Gordon’s net and Rangers went on to win the game on penalties, it was the first time in four years that supporters weren’t the punchline to their rivals’ jokes.

It wasn’t just that game that has fans optimistic for the coming season. While disappointment would eventually come in the final, Rangers overcame three Scottish Premiership sides to get there, proving that they might not find it so tough to adapt to the top flight after all.

Players in…

joeybarton

Rangers have wasted no time at all in putting together a side that they’re hoping can compete in the Premiership.

Joey Barton, Jordan Rossiter, Josh Windass and Matt Crooks have all been drafted into the Gers’ midfield on frees after their contracts expired. Mark Warburton knows all about the qualities of each player and they were clearly all ones planned well in advance.

That bodes well for the rest of the transfer window with the Ibrox side being linked with plenty more players of quality in areas back to front. Will it be a team worthy of the Rangers shirt?

…Players out

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There’s been something of a clearing of the decks at Rangers at the end of the season. No fewer than 12 players have left the club at the end of their contracts.

The most high profile of these were Nicky Clark, Nicky Law and David Templeton. While all have played their role in the rise to the top division, fans will be comforted that the club are looking for a higher quality of talent than these guys.

It looks like Mark Warburton is going to be given the opportunity to put his own stamp on recruitment.

Players established

Football Soccer - Rangers v Dumbarton - Ladbrokes Scottish Championship - Ibrox Stadium - 5/4/16 Rangers' James Tavernier celebrates at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters / Russell Cheyne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Even if you forget about the transfer window this summer, there’s plenty to get pulses racing in the stands at Ibrox. Players such as James Tavernier, Andy Halliday and Martyn Waghorn made a huge impact on their debut seasons in Scotland.

It’s likely that all three of them are going to develop even further in the coming campaign.

Add to that genuine young talent like Barry McKay and you already have the foundations of one of the best first XIs in the Scottish Premiership. They alone are enough to have fans optimistic ahead of the coming campaign.

A leader worth following

Mark Warburton

You’re not going to find any football fan in Scotland, even those in green and white, that will disagree that Mark Warburton has been a tremendous manager for Rangers so far.

To say the Ibrox side were at a low ebb after the playoff defeat to Motherwell is an understatement. His arrival saw Rangers blitz through the opposition for most of his first few months in charge, providing a swagger that we hadn’t see at Ibrox for years.

The winter months and tail end of the season were a little tougher but in reality they were already looking ahead to 2016/17.

The only blemish so far is that cup final defeat to Hibs, something that the entire squad will learn from.

If he can again provide the spark to repeat the start to last season, there’s no doubting Rangers are going to be in the mix at the top of the table at least heading into the new year.