NICKY Law admits he came close to leaving Rangers this year but is now relieved he stuck around for the opportunity to be a part of a team revitalised under Mark Warburton.
Midfielder Law made his 100th appearance for Rangers in Friday night’s 3-1 win over St Mirren at Ibrox which maintained their positive start to life under Warburton’s management.
After the drudgery and disappointment Law experienced last season as Rangers failed to gain promotion to the top flight, he is now among those invigorated by the impact Warburton is making at the club.
“Everyone knows how difficult it has been for us for the past few years,” said Law. “The football’s not been great. But it’s night and day now with the new manager. He’s been fantastic and you can see that all the lads have taken to him with his new ideas and style of play.
“The fans have too, as you could hear on Friday. They are right behind us. That’s after just six weeks work with the new manager, so the message is how will we be in six months? We need to improve in front of goal, but that will come.
“I’m pleased I stayed. Perhaps last January was the closest I came to leaving. But when the new manager came in, I spoke to him straight away as all the lads did. He was extremely positive and told me what he wanted and I’ve just tried to do everything he has asked. Not just myself, but everyone is enjoying it just now. It’s how it was supposed to be when I first signed for Rangers.”
Law is going into his third season at the club he joined from Motherwell. The 27-year-old’s contract expires next summer and he is keen to forge a long-term place in Warburton’s plans. “I would like to extend my contract but it is down to myself to show to the manager that I deserve to be here because he has brought a few players in,” added Law.
“That’s something we maybe haven’t had in the past, that kind of competition for places. If you are not performing you will lose your place. It’s up to myself and all the boys in the same position to prove you deserve a place. For the first time in a while it’s very positive and everyone wants to be a part of that.
“It has been difficult over the past two years. It’s been strange for me, because in my two seasons here I have scored the most goals I’ve ever managed in my career – 25 goals over the two years and more in assists – but I haven’t actually played as well as I did in my time at Motherwell.
“But with the style of play we are playing now, I am higher up the field and enjoying it. It’s less touches but more in the opposition third – that’s the message he has sent me. It’s been a good start for me and everyone.
“People have spoken about our fitness levels, perhaps just because of the way we are playing.
“We’ve actually probably run less than we usually do in pre-season, it’s all been ball work. Maybe it’s the 4-3-3 we are playing – we are working on crossing and finishing during the week. Fitness comes when you are enjoying the game.”
Last season ended with the comprehensive play-off final defeat by Motherwell for Law, an outcome he feels will ultimately prove to have benefited Rangers.
“In the long run, that could have been the best thing that ever happened to us,” he claimed. “We needed at least another year out of the top flight. At the time you can’t say that, but looking back people will see that in the long run as the best thing. This year, hopefully we can do the job right this time. We’ve had a good start and hopefully we can get the job done. Promotion and first place is the aim.”
The next stage of Rangers’ campaign is a visit to Alloa’s artificial playing surface next Sunday and Law is confident they will handle a venue where they struggled last season.
“It will be a shock for a few of the new boys going there,” said Law. “But the message will be the same from the manager – we’ll play the same way. Whether it will be as fluent, we won’t know until after we start, but it’s up to ourselves.
“Personally, the pitch doesn’t bother me. Perhaps it bothers some of the older boys with their knees, but I don’t actually mind it. In the winter, it can be better to play on those pitches than on some pitches where there is no grass on it.
“Perhaps it can play on your mind, but that’s football in general sometimes. It can be in your mindset. We will just try and play the same way we have been playing and entertain.”