HIS manager may regard it as a fanciful notion, but Bilel Mohsni believes Rangers can complete their League One campaign with a 100 per cent winning record.
Having known nothing but victory as a Rangers player so far, the French defender’s optimism is understandable.
Sidelined for the first month of the campaign until the Ibrox club’s player registration embargo expired, Mohsni missed the 2-1 elimination from the League Cup at Forfar at the start of August – their sole defeat so far.
Tuesday night’s 6-1 demolition of the same opponents at Ibrox was Rangers’ 19th consecutive victory in all competitions since then, setting a new post-war club record by beating the run of 1992. They have won all 14 of their League One fixtures, scoring 56 goals for the loss of just seven, and are priced at 11-1 by bookmakers Paddy Power to win their remaining 22 league games.
Ally McCoist insists it will not happen, reasoning that slip-ups are all but inevitable. The Rangers manager is also reluctant to make such a prediction as it would “come back and bite me on the backside”.
Mohsni, however, has no such reservations as he sets his sights on achieving perfection in Scottish football’s third tier. “Yes, I think we can win every game,” said Mohsni. “We can do it. It’s going to be tough, for sure, and no game will be easy. But I think we can do it. We have proved we are a strong team in defence, up front and in midfield, so I think we can do it. If we did, it would be very good for us.”
As notable as such a feat would be, it would not bear historical comparison with the top- flight team who were labelled “The Invincibles”. Rangers were crowned Scottish champions in 1898-99 with a 100 per cent winning record, while Preston North End (1888-89) and Arsenal (2003-04) earned the moniker by completing an English title-winning season undefeated.
The Arsenal achievement has special resonance for Mohsni, given the significant French influence throughout that side a decade ago. “I remember that Arsenal team well,” said Mohsni. “They got a great record and it is nice to be called invincible. If you are thought of as an invincible team then everyone will want to beat you the next year.
“There were a few French players in that Arsenal team. There are only two French players at Rangers, Seb Faure and me, but maybe we can help Rangers do it! We will see.
“It will be difficult and maybe the manager will look at things if we win the league and change the team and play the youth players. He may decide to do that to give them more experience. We’ll see, but the most important thing is to win the league.”
Despite the comprehensive nature of so many of Rangers’ victories so far, Mohsni insists the lengthy winning run has been far from straightforward. “People say the level is not good, but it was good when we saw the results in the Scottish Cup last weekend,” he said.
“For us, it’s like a Scottish Cup game every week. You could see some Premiership teams were beaten by teams from the lower divisions. So it’s not easy, every game is hard, every team is waiting to try and beat us. We have to be very strong.
“People think it’s easy but I don’t think it is easy at all. Sometimes it maybe looks that way when you see the score, but when you are out on the pitch you have to work and concentrate as if you were playing another strong team.
“Everyone in our team wants to win the league very quickly. But, of course, after we do that then this is going to be the motivation to try and keep unbeaten and keep winning. But, as I said, the first thing is to win the league. After that we will see what happens before the end of the season.
“For me, it means a lot to win this league. In all of my career, I have only won one cup and two leagues, but it was when I was playing under-18.
“To get a title in my first year at Rangers would be great. It would be something to add to the fantastic trophy room at Ibrox. It would be the highlight of my career. Of course, it’s not over yet. But if we win, I am looking forward to celebrating with the fans, the staff and everyone.”
Mohsni was speaking at Lorne Street Primary School in Govan as Rangers donated 2000 tickets for Saturday’s home game against Ayr United to schools, community groups and charities in their local area.
The affable 26-year-old spent time in a question-and-answer session with children, during which he revealed he almost became a goalkeeper.
“When I was 13, our keeper had an injury and our coach asked me to take his place because we didn’t have anyone else,” he said.
“I did well and the goalkeeper coach asked if I could stay in the position for the rest of the season. I said ‘why not’ and it was a good year. If Cammy Bell gets injured maybe I could play there for Rangers.
“But, seriously, while I always say I’d play anywhere for my team, I’m happy to be a central defender for Rangers.
“It’s difficult when you play in different areas of the pitch. Even in training, you can’t find confidence of one position. You return to centre back and it’s not easy.
“When you play up front, as I did for Southend United for a while, it’s about you and your ability. When you play at the back, you need a relationship with the others in the back four.
“The thing about Rangers is that we have quality strikers. At the moment Jon Daly and Nicky Clark are showing we don’t need anyone else up there. They have been very good, scoring goals for fun so I definitely think my place is at the back in this team for sure.”