WITH 18 goals in his first 19 games for Rangers, there is no reason for Jon Daly to be anything less than satisfied with his efforts for the Ibrox club so far.
However, the striker has revealed a painful source of regret that his prolific strike rate for the runaway League One leaders took some time to kick in.
Daly is coming to terms with the recent death of his father, John, a guiding light throughout his career. Thrilled by his son’s move to Rangers from Dundee United last summer, Daly senior travelled from Dublin to watch him take his Ibrox bow against Brechin City in August.
The 30-year-old failed to find the target that afternoon, during a settling-in period with his new club which saw him score just three times in his first seven appearances. Daly has since been instrumental in Rangers’ current 20-match winning run, which they hope to extend at home to Stranraer this afternoon, scoring 15 goals in his last 12 outings.
Yet it still nags at Daly that he drew a blank on the day his father headed across the Irish Sea. “The season could probably have gone even better for me so far, to be honest,” reflected Daly. “I could have had a few more goals. I missed a few on my Ibrox debut against Brechin City. I still beat myself up about that.
“My dad was over to watch that game against Brechin and never got to see me score at Ibrox. It would have been great for him to see that.
“At the time of my move to Ibrox, I spoke to my dad and he was delighted that a club like Rangers were in for me. He told me to jump at the chance. I think I’d pretty much made my mind up that I was coming anyway, but it was nice that he was full of enthusiasm for the move.
“He did give me stick for not scoring in that first game! That’s the way he was, he used to have that kind of banter with me. But he was very proud and hopefully I can still do him proud in the future.”
Daly has been an unquestionable success on the signing front for Rangers manager Ally McCoist who now faces the prospect of trimming his squad next month as the club’s new chief executive Graham Wallace addresses the continuing financial difficulties at Ibrox.
“If the squad has to be cut in size, then it will happen and we will deal with it at the time,” Daly said. “It’s not something I’ve been focusing on. That’s not me not caring – of course I care. But I just want to focus on my football and do my best for the club. Whatever happens happens.
“That’s football. Players come and players go. You build up a good squad and then, for whatever reason, players have to leave.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the boys, but personally I try not to focus on things off the park. I concentrate on training, my own routine and playing games. I try to do the right thing on the pitch. Whatever happens off the pitch is out of our hands, we can’t control it. If you start worrying about what’s happening off the park, it can affect you on the park. It wasn’t really an issue for me when I signed. I knew there were still a few problems but it was never going to stop me signing.
“It’s a massive football club and even if you’d told me back then that they would still be having problems now, I would still have signed.
“I’m sure there are one or two lads who do focus on what happens off the park, but I don’t think you can let it affect you. It will affect your performances and if that happens, you will find yourself out of the team.
“There is plenty of competition for places, which for a club like Rangers is healthy. You do need that, it keeps players on edge. At other clubs I’ve been at, you could get away with having one or two bad games and still find yourself in the team. But if you have two or three bad games here, you’re not going to play in the next one.”
Rangers are three games away from beating the club record of 22 consecutive victories set back in 1898-99, albeit they are not operating in the top flight. Daly says that will not be in their thoughts this afternoon.
“If we start looking too far down the line, that’s when you take your eye off the ball and can lose a game,” he said. “We need to focus fully on Stranraer, take three points if we can, then move on to the next game.”