LOOKING back to recent years, when Rangers had the heart “ripped out of it”, isn’t of interest to club legend Richard Gough. In contrast, looking to the back, and the defence fashioned by Mark Warburton in his new-look Ibrox side, hold great appeal for the 53-year-old.
Gough was at his old stomping ground on Sunday as Peterhead were brushed aside 3-0 in the League Cup. He is convinced he watched a Rangers rearguard that provides the foundation upon which Warburton’s team can mount a challenge for major cup success, not just promotion from the Championship. And so taken by right-back James Tavernier was the Rangers nine-in-a-row captain that he believes the 24-year-old could bring a return to the pre-liquidation days when multi-millions could be made from players moving to the English top-flight from Ibrox.
James Tavernier reminds me of Gary Stevens because he is very quickRichard Gough
“I always remember Graeme Souness saying ‘good teams are built from the back’ and he got in Chris Woods, Terry Butcher, myself, Gary Stevens. We were so solid you could have fielded four of our back five and found us hard to break down,” said Gough. “It looks like Mark Warburton has done something similar with his rebuild of Rangers. His defence is certainly not a Scottish Championship back four. It’s a level above that at least. Danny Wilson is an excellent defender, [Rob] Kiernan is a good user of the ball.
“The right-back – even though we haven’t seen him defend yet – looks a crowd pleaser who will get a few goals. He reminds me of Gary Stevens because he is very quick. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s better than most of the right-backs I’ve seen in the Premier League. Someone will come and take him for three or four million. If he keeps playing like that then he’ll not be here in a year. That is the lure for a Tavernier. Rangers are on the TV every week, he’s at a big club so will be seen. If you do well at Rangers and in the big games, you will get a move.
“The goalkeeper [Wes Foderingham] looks good too. He’s a big strong boy and a good user of the ball. He can build from the back. And [Martyn] Waghorn up front looks a good signing too.
“There were seven new signings in the team against Peterhead. The four new defenders looked good, while Lee Wallace has always been a machine. As a football man, that’s what you need – a good goalkeeper and back four. Plus, Andy Halliday looked very good sitting in there [in front of the back four]. They’ve scored nine goals in two games and the team is still to settle. Things are looking optimistic at Ibrox again.”
“Dave King has been quiet but the noise level going down is a good thing,” Gough added. “We are talking about football now. Not long ago, Rangers wasn’t a football story. It was about what was going on in the background. It’s great to see people talking about football again. The season starts for real on Friday [against St Mirren] and let’s see what happens. Rangers can win a [major] trophy this season, 100 per cent. You need a bit of good fortune but you see Inverness doing it and St Johnstone do it. There is always a chance in the cups but for Rangers this season it’s hugely important to win promotion.”
Gough, of course, was a backer of King in his bid to take control of the club. He admitted yesterday there was much agonising, much “to-ing and fro-ing” before he agreed to back the season ticket boycott after King phoned to ask him do so. Gough believes that starvation tactic has been vindicated – even if what allowed for the boardroom takeover that took place in March was the simple act of those seeking control buying up sufficient shares to win a vote at the general meeting.
Gough, to his credit, doesn’t pretend that chairman King’s stated willingness to cover the sizeable shortfalls in the current funding model means it is a straightforward case of the good times being ready to roll again. “Progress is maybe going to be slow, with a bit-by-bit approach, but the management team now look like a good fit. It is still very early days, of course, and it’s not going to be a quick fix,” Gough said. “It’s just a natural progression. But I think we’ve been on the right track back from March. And getting the trust of supporters with 32,000 season tickets, that’s incredible after what happened. The supporters have given that trust again. There can’t be many places in the country would do that. There is talk about getting 40,000 for St Mirren on Friday, that is incredible to watch a Championship game.”
l Rangers family stand season tickets are on sale at £312 for adults and £53 for children at www.rangers.co.uk, 0871 702 1972 or by visiting the Rangers Ticket Centre