Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday threw himself into the crowd in celebration at the club’s Championship title success last night, then threw down the gauntlet to his club that they have to topple Celtic in the Premiership next season.
A 1-0 victory over Dumbarton earned by a James Tavernier goal sparked jubilant scenes among a near 46,000-crowd, with lifelong Rangers fan Halliday, recruited in Mark Warburton’s squad overhaul last summer, getting “carried away, as usual” in launching himself into the section containing the Union Bears.
As Rangers prepare for the top flight following four years in the lower tiers following liquidation in 2012 that required them start again in the fourth tier, the midfielder maintained it was not getting carried away to set the highest targets.
“We’ve got to be challenging for the title; it’s a simple as that,” Halliday said. “And that’s not me being arrogant or disrespectful to Celtic at all, they are four in a row and going for another title, but you can’t be at a club like this and be happy with second.
“We feel we have been top since day one of pre-season and have only been going one way and that is forward. We are only going to get better and better. It’s full steam ahead to the end of the season because we still have a lot of big games and then into the Premiership – back where we belong.”
Rangers manager Warburton immediately looked forward to back-to-back trips to Hampden for Sunday’s Petrofac Training Cup final with Peterhead and the derby Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic a week later as he savoured making good on the “clear directive” of “getting the club back to the top tier”.
“We didn’t want to limp over the line. We wanted to win it in style,” Warburton said. “The pressure was always there, and always will be with a club like Rangers. If we drop our standards, we get punished. We can’t do that. It can’t happen, not here and not in front of 50,000 at Hampden.
“With the right recruitment, we will bring in four or five players. But the boys have to enjoy this moment. They will have a little champagne, that’s fine. But we’re back into work this week. We’ve got a cup final at the weekend, no gimmes. If we’re not prepared we’ll get hurt.”