Andy Newport compares the squad of 2011/12 with the group Gers used to reclaim their place in Scotland’s top flight.
Ally McCoist was in his first season as boss when the club was enveloped by crisis. He was praised for his role in helping to hold the club together as it was reborn after liquidation but the Light Blues’ all-time leading scorer was never as good a coach as he was a statesman and was axed in December 2014 following a series of mortifying results at the hands of part-time opposition. Warburton was hired by Dave King to pick up the pieces of last season’s failed promotion bid and has been praised for not only returning Rangers to winning ways, but for also instilling a swagger to the Ibrox side’s displays.
Northern Irishman Steve Davis had the armband when the dark clouds began gathering over Ibrox. A consistent performer in the heart of midfield, he has proven his class since switching to English high-fliers Southampton. Current skipper Lee Wallace was one of the few players who did not rush for the exits as Gers began listing. The left-back has undoubtedly sacrificed his international career by remaining at Ibrox but his dedication to the cause means the Gers faithful now consider him among the club’s greatest servants.
Allan McGregor seemed to relish the pressure placed on him during Old Firm clashes and big European nights. After a stint with Besiktas in Turkey, he moved to Hull City in 2013 but has not quite been able to reproduce the consistency he showed in Glasgow. Wes Foderingham is now Warburton’s ever-present first-choice keeper, having played every minute of the campaign so far. The former Swindon stopper has grown into the responsibility of playing for the Light Blues, producing a string of fine saves while also helping to launch Gers attacks from the back.
In Carlos Bocanegra, McCoist was able to call upon a centre-back with more than 100 caps for the United States, while defensive partner Doran Goian also had dozens of appearances for Romania. Now Gers’ backline is underpinned by former Wigan stopper Rob Kiernan, while Danny Wilson has returned to the club he started his career with before leaving for an unsuccessful stint with Liverpool. Right-back James Tavernier is another who has been given a chance to kick-start his career in Glasgow and has impressed with his rampaging runs forward.
Davis usually lined up alongside American international Maurice Edu and versatile Scotland cap Steven Whittaker across the middle, while Sone Aluko made a major contribution after signing in November 2012, even finishing as the club’s second top goalscorer with 12 goals. This season, former Livingston, Middlesbrough and Bradford winger Andy Halliday has performed admirably after being converted into a make-shift midfield anchorman, while Jason Holt has done much to suggest Hearts were wrong to release him last year with his goal-scoring raids from deep.
Steven Naismith was arguably Rangers’ most dangerous player at the start of the 2011/12 campaign until a knee injury suffered at Pittodrie in late October ended his season. A fan favourite at that point, he is now a pariah figure at Ibrox after becoming the first Gers player to quit the club after liquidation. However, he has not let that hold him back and after a successful stint with Everton, is now at Norwich. As for Rangers, Martyn Waghorn is now their main man after hitting 28 goals in his debut campaign in Glasgow. Like Tavernier and Kiernan, he has been allowed to rehabilitate his career after stalling during spells with Leicester and Wigan.
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