Rangers aiming to stay at the top of the league this time, insists Ross McCrorie

Rangers took advantage of Celtic beating Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup final earlier this month to hoist themselves into first place in the Premiership by dint of a 2-1 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle.

Steven Gerrard and Ross McCrorie, far right, at the £10,000 cheque handover to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. Picture: SNS Group
Steven Gerrard and Ross McCrorie, far right, at the £10,000 cheque handover to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. Picture: SNS Group

It was a short-lived stay at the summit; they subsequently lost at home to Aberdeen and were then held to a draw by bottom club Dundee at Dens Park.

On Sunday, after Hibernian’s 2-0 win over Celtic, they were able to lead the pack again after a 1-0 home win over struggling Hamilton. In order to guarantee that they will remain in first place, however, they will need to return to the capital and claim all three points against Hibs tomorrow night, a feat which has thus far proved to be beyond them in 2018.

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Indeed, Rangers face a demanding set of fixtures before the end of the year, with a visit to McDiarmid Park to face St Johnstone on Sunday followed by home games against Neil Lennon’s side and champions Celtic.

Midfielder Ross McCrorie, though, claims that Steven Gerrard’s side is ready to show that their current position is the norm and not the exception to the rule.

“Hibs are a very good team, as they showed again at the weekend, and we have to be ready,” said McCrorie.

“It will be tough but, hopefully, we can come away from Easter Road with a victory. I’m not going to lie – the aim for us has to still be in first place heading into the break.

“However, we have four massive games before the end of the year to get through. It’s a huge end to the year for us and we need to try to take maximum points. There’s a long way to go and we will just have to see how it pans out.”

McCrorie also stressed that there should be no repeat of the lapse in standards which saw them previously relinquish pole position as soon as it had been earned.

“It’s great to be back at the top of the table, but we’re not going to get carried away, especially after what happened a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

“We went top and then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. The aim now is to stay there this time. Hopefully, we’ve learned from what happened last time but there is still a long way to go; we have more than half a 
season left.

“So we just have to take each game as it comes and try not to look too far forward. There are no excuses for going top and then dropping points against Aberdeen and Dundee. To be honest, we should be winning these games.

“It was a sticky patch, although these things will happen during the course of a season. That’s in the past and, at the moment, we are where we want to be.”

McCrorie initially featured in the first team as a defender on breaking through under Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty last season, but the 20-year-old now operates as a holding midfielder and, although half of his 14 appearances this season have come from the bench, he started the last two matches (against Rapid Vienna and Hamilton) and hopes to keep his place at Easter Road.

“I’ve been in and out of the team this season and it’s been frustrating for me,” he said. “But I’ve started the last two matches so that’s been encouraging.

“The onus is on me to keep working hard and then giving it everything when I do play. I need to try and make it as hard as possible for the gaffer not to leave me out.

“He hasn’t really spoken to me about the situation, but I know it is up to me. “I’m the one who needs to keep performing and keep playing well when I get the chance as well as doing it every day in training. There’s a lot of competition for places in midfield but I 
genuinely think that’s a good thing.

“At a club like Rangers, you need real competition and strength in depth. We’ve had so many games in Europe and domestically so you need a big squad of players.”

l Ross McCrorie was speaking as the Rangers Charity Foundation donated £10,000 to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.