Rangers completed a comfortable 5-0 win over Hamilton at Ibrox on Sunday and what was more impressive was that it was achieved with a host of first choice and international players sitting out as they hit the top of the Scottish Premiership.
The squad depth assembled by departed Director of Football, Mark Allen and Steven Gerrard has seen Rangers go into the international break top of the Scottish Premiership and qualify for the group stages of the Europa League in a run of form that has seen just two defeats from twenty-two games.
What is noticeable this season is that the Ibrox club has still been picking up points domestically whilst coping with the rigours of European football. Compared to this time last season, Rangers are seven points better off.
There is also the manner of the two defeats that the Gers have suffered this season, each time, against both Celtic and Young Boys respectively, they were victims of their own defensive mistakes. They weren’t out-played or out-classed in either of these games but coughed up gilt-edged opportunities through lapses of concentration. Another sign of improvement, Rangers appear to have their destiny in their own hands.
Sunday’s starting XI had a few notable absentees; Filip Helander, Nikola Katic, Ryan Jack, Joe Aribo, Andy King, Ryan Kent, Jordan Jones and Alfredo Morelos. Only one of these players isn’t a full international and he cost £7.5m.
As Gerrard alluded to at the weekend, they have managed to get these results and have players coming back to fitness. Rangers ran out of steam at several points last season, relying on Kyle Lafferty, Andy Halliday and Gareth McAuley to rotate the squad, few would argue they are of the same quality as Jermain Defoe, Glen Kamara and Filip Helander.
The competition for places and gentle rotation of the squad has been the key difference in improving on last year’s form. Fans accept that it won’t be the same starting XI every game and as long as the “back-ups” like Defoe, Greg Stewart and George Edmundson continue to produce performances like they did at the weekend then the groans when the team is announced an hour before kick-off will get quieter and quieter.
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