Andy Halliday - ‘Season is a failure if Rangers don’t win a trophy’

Andy Halliday insists only the capture of a trophy can stand as evidence of Rangers’ improvement under Steven Gerrard.

Rangers captain for the night Andy Halliday leads out his side against Cowdenbeath. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

According to the player, the conclusion that must be drawn from finishing empty-handed at the end of this season is a stark one: the manager’s first season in charge has been a failure. Halliday is confident Gerrard feels the same way as the Ibrox side continue battling on two fronts.

Rangers are only two points better off in the league than at the same stage last season. After 23 games last year, the Ibrox side, then under the caretaker stewardship of Graeme Murty, had 43 points. They currently stand on 45 points with St Mirren due at Ibrox tomorrow. Perhaps more significantly, Rangers were 11 points behind leaders Celtic this time last year. Now the margin between the teams is six points.

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The Ibrox side’s Betfred Cup campaign ended with disappointment at the semi-final stage at the hands of Aberdeen. Their Scottish Cup hopes remain very much alive but the Ibrox side face a tough task away to Kilmarnock in next weekend’s fifth-round tie. Halliday, who is yet to win a major trophy with Rangers, is aware of the enormity of this game since it represents a stepping stone in the bid to achieve some overdue glory.

“Listen, I think you guys and the fans have given us a lot of praise this year because there has been progress,” said Halliday. “But, if we don’t win a trophy at the end of the year then it has been a failure of a season for my account.

“I have not won a real Rangers trophy since I have been here and I am obviously looking to try to win one. This is one of the two chances we have got.”

Gerrard won the greatest prize in European club football while at Liverpool. It was put to Halliday that the manager is not someone likely to accept mediocrity. Even on Wednesday night he railed against two unnamed players who he said had failed to perform at the expected level in the 3-1 Scottish Cup win over Cowdenbeath at Central Park.

“100 per cent, nobody has got more of a winning mentality than that man,” said Halliday. “He is drilling that into the boys every single day. Like I say, the progress has been there but we need to progress even more if we want to win (something).”

Halliday put Rangers 2-1 up against Hibs in the Scottish Cup final in 2016. Had it not been for a memorable comeback by the Easter Road side the boyhood Rangers fan might have secured his club’s first major trophy since their financial meltdown. The wait continues.

“We need to play a lot better than we did on Wednesday night if we are going to beat Kilmarnock,” he said.

Halliday was one of those unfazed by playing amid stacks of tyres and on a rutted pitch ringed by a stock car track against Cowdenbeath. He had played there before while with Livingston.

“It certainly wasn’t (a culture shock) for me,” he said. “I have played in this league. It is maybe a bit of a culture shock to some of the boys, but I am sure the boys will have played in stadiums like this before. It is not always 50,000 at Ibrox and when you do come to these places it is about dusting yourself down and getting the job done.”

Returning Rangers player Steven Davis was one of those who handled the challenging surroundings well. Only a few weeks ago he was playing in the English Premier League with Southampton.

“He has had the career that he has had for a reason,” said Hailliday. “He is very tidy in tight areas and you can see his quality. He is someone you can give the ball into in any position and you are confident he will keep it circulating, keep it moving. He is going to be a big player for us this year and obviously Jermain (Defoe) is another one as well.”