Craig Fowler: Rangers are no longer car crash television

Rangers players celebrate after lifting the Petrofac Training Cup. Picture: Michael Gillen
Rangers players celebrate after lifting the Petrofac Training Cup. Picture: Michael Gillen
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It’s fair to presume Rangers v Peterhead, taking place between a Sky Sports English Premier League double-header, wouldn’t have been high on the viewing list for many football fans without allegiances to either side.

The Ibrox club were expected to sweep aside their League One opponents and that’s exactly what they did. Mark Warburton’s team play a flowing brand of attacking football that’s easy on the eye, but it’s difficult to get excited about any sporting contest, or even summon the energy to tune in, if there’s a lack of competitive edge. Peterhead, to their credit, kept battling away even when they were 2-0 down, and the full-time score was probably unduly harsh on them, though it’s what people expected.

READ MORE - Rangers 4 - 0 Peterhead: Gers win Petrofac Training Cup final

The large contingent of Rangers fans at the game and those watching at home wouldn’t care if anyone else was tuning in or not. They were having a great time. The players kept attacking into the latter reaches of the game, despite having it done and dusted, looking to put on a show for their audience. Perhaps, though, Rangers should consider the viewing habits of those who worship other clubs. If there were some who weren’t watching BBC Alba, but had viewed the Challenge Cup final at Easter Road two years ago, then that represents progress. It means Rangers are once again expected to sweep aside challengers in the lower leagues, and that’s not always been the case.

Rangers’ victory was a reminder that they’d failed in three attempts to win a trophy that seemingly had their name imprinted on it before a ball was kicked. The worst of those failures occurred last season when Alloa Athletic, two goals down with 17 minutes remaining, eliminated them with a 3-2 semi-final victory.

READ MORE - Rangers 4 - 0 Peterhead: How the players fared in Petrofac final

At the conclusion of that match, a highly popular Vine did the rounds on social media. The four-second clip focused exclusively on the face of Kenny Miller. He wasn’t just angry or disappointed that the team had thrown away the game, he was disgusted. He may have been forgiven for thinking that it was rock bottom for Rangers, yet worse was to come. Had he known this at the time there’s no telling how contorted the striker’s facial features would have been. His coupon may have collapsed in on itself.

Miller wore a very different expression after yesterday’s game, as he beamed from ear to ear following a goalscoring display in the 4-0 win. The striker admitted himself that winning the Petrofac Training Cup was hardly going to be the highlight of his career, but that you want to win any competition in which you enter, especially when you’re by far the biggest club in the tournament. Besides, it’s a Hampden final in front of 40,000+ of your own supporters. He’s hardly going to be sullen and focus on past negatives.

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There’s no mistaking the facts, previous Petrofac performances were embarrassing. Losing to Queen of the South, Raith Rovers and Alloa, there was no excuse when you compare the disparity in resources. But it was symptomatic of the problems that existed at Rangers for three quarters of the lower league journey, just as yesterday’s win is another example that they’re on the right course. Winning this year’s competition is what Rangers should have done but meeting those expectations is something they failed miserably to do before. Fans ready to indulge in some good old schadenfreude would tune in, expecting to see the unexpected. It was car crash television Scottish football style, but now, it seems, the show has been cancelled.

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