It has been a mercurial season for Rangers. Chants of acclaim roared around Ibrox for stand-in manager Graeme Murty at the end of a comprehensive filleting of Partick Thistle. As they did it became hard to reconcile that only ten days earlier Pedro Caixinha knew the jig was up as a cacophony of despair greeted Rangers’ squandering of victory in the 96th minute against Kilmarnock at the same venue.
Yet, two-week turnarounds are nothing new for this Rangers squad. Only a fortnight before the Killie kill for the deposed Portuguese coach, it was being said that his team had finally turned the corner after convincing wins away to St Johnstone and Hamilton.
The peaks and troughs – Saturday was Rangers’ fifth win by at least a three-goal margin in this supposedly dreadful season – make it difficult to assess the squad that will be inherited by Derek McInnes should, as expected, Rangers prise him from Aberdeen to become permanent successor to Caixinha this week.
The impoverished nature of Thistle’s performance made it straightforward for Rangers. That said, the marauding of Daniel Candeias on the right – who provided a sharp finish for his team’s 39th minute second goal – the drive of Ryan Jack in midfield, the scoring display of teenage centre-back Ross McCrorie, and the efficient display of Declan John means Caixinha’s restructuring could hardly be called a dead loss.
Certainly, despite Alfredo Morelos also proving a promising addition, he didn’t get value for his reported £8 million summer spend because such as Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera have struggled. But when the question is asked as to why McInnes would leave Pittodrie for Rangers, one answer might be that he could find himself helming a squad with more potential.
Rangers are said to be rotten; Aberdeen a model of consistency. Yet, the Pittodrie club are only three points to the good of their bitter rivals.
Murty was bold enough to leave star name Bruno Alves on the bench and keep faith with the emerging McCrorie following his contribution to the Ibrox club’s 3-1 win over Hearts at Murrayfield. He was rewarded with an imperious header from the 19-year-old that set Rangers on their way half an hour in and provided a first goal for the club. Linking up well with Danny Wilson, Wes Foderingham was given little to do and was appreciative of McCrorie’s efforts. A player he does believe could make the grade, despite being burdened by Caixinha’s daft assertion he was going to be “one of the best centre-halves” in the history of Scotland.
“He has been taking everything in his stride; he is a very level-headed young man,” he said, describing the youngster’s performance as “brilliant”. “He had a fantastic debut and he’s done really well since he has come into the side, and I am really chuffed with him. You never know with young players but I think he has all the tools to go all the way. it is down to him to do the rest of it.
“Any praise that he gets is due. As footballers you have to have that kind of mentality, one minute you can be doing really well and the next minute the world is against you. But at the moment he is doing really well.”
That mentality is a must playing for a Rangers team that can pick off vulnerable teams but prove vulnerable themselves when set against the better performing sides in the country. Murty’s presence certainly seems to have infused the Ibrox side with an assurance they lacked under the flakey Caixinha. Foderingham recognises that he has made more of the personnel at the club’s disposal.
“He did a fantastic job the last time he stepped in and he is continuing that now. We have had a few good results and hopefully we can continue that. It is the same players, the same group. He has just tried to get us all together, get us passing the football and implementing our ideas. I think that was evident against Thistle.”
The keeper sought to sidestep the issue of whether the players were itching for a quick resolution to the managerial situation and whether they would be behind an internal promotion that would lead to Murty being installed for the long-term.
“That’s not for me to decide,” he said. “At the minute we are doing well. As footballers we just concentrate on the matches and we are doing well in that regard. We’re without a permanent manager at the minute and we are winning football matches so that’s the only thing I’m concerned about.
“Graeme is a really likeable character, I think that comes across from his interviews as well. The fans have taken to him, the boys have taken to him, so it makes for a very positive environment. I mean he’s standing in at the minute, and he has the support of the boys in the dressing room but that decision is not mine to make. The boys are behind him.”