Although they wouldn’t publicly admit it, the embattled Rangers squad will know that even putting in the performance of their season may not be enough to avoid defeat in Saturday’s Old Firm meeting with runaway Premiership leaders Celtic. Therefore, tonight’s clash with Motherwell takes on extra significance.
Losing two games in a row is bad enough as a Rangers player, but the prospect of going into the winter break with four successive defeats, or even four games without victory, is unthinkable.
There needs to be some sort of reaction to the recent loss to Kilmarnock. Similar to the previous week’s defeat by St Johnstone, Rangers led only to take nothing from the contest.
Players must replicate the performances which secured both legs of the league double-header against Aberdeen, which went a long way to Graeme Murty being appointed as manager until the end of the campaign, giving the fans a reason to believe that better times will come in 2018.
“The Motherwell game is the one. It is huge,” insisted midfielder Jason Holt. “You can’t lose three games in a row at Rangers. The players need to look at themselves. We need to take full responsibility. We are the only ones that can change it. After two defeats we need to get back on track. It has not been good enough.
“We need a reaction. Simple as that. We need to win that game. We need to show that we can stand up to any challenge. I think we have shown that in certain games but we need to show it more often.
“We realise the last two results are unacceptable. It is down to the players to change that. We know all eyes are on us and people are waiting to criticise us. It is up to us to rally together and put things right quickly.”
When on his game, Holt is ubiquitous in the centre of the park, linking play between defence and midfield, midfield and attack. With his unwavering work ethic, the 24-year-old has been one of the club’s more consistent performers across this season. The same cannot be said of the team as a whole. Results have been up and down all campaign.
“We were on a good run (before those two defeats), but that is the story of our season,” continued Holt. “Inconsistency has been a big thing for us. We win three games but then we can’t follow it up. We should be going on longer winning runs.
“It is hard to put your finger on what it is. But we need to try to get it out of our system as it has been a theme throughout the season. We still have a long way to go so the sooner we get rid of it the better.”
The winter break will come at a welcome time for Rangers and their newly-appointed boss. Not only should Murty have the means to recruit players in January, with the club insisting work has been done behind the scenes to identity targets, but the three-week hiatus will also allow some of the injured players to recuperate without missing vital games.
Captain Lee Wallace will return if he doesn’t recover in time to face Celtic, while Kenny Miller and Graeme Dorrans will spend time on the treatment table with a view to a return in the new year. For a side with an alarming lack of quality depth, just getting bodies back is vitally important.
“We could do with adding a few players. That is evident on the park,” added Holt. “We need a few bodies in different areas of the pitch but that is not for me to decide. Any additions would be welcome.
“We have big players missing through injury and suspension. If we can get them all back it would help us.”