Rangers have been transformed under Dave King, according to James Tavernier

Rangers' James Tavernier clears the ball from Feyenoord's Leroy Fer during the 2-2 draw in Rotterdam. Picture: Peter Dejong/AP
Rangers' James Tavernier clears the ball from Feyenoord's Leroy Fer during the 2-2 draw in Rotterdam. Picture: Peter Dejong/AP
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As well as being club captain, James Tavernier is best placed to be club chronicler of the past four-and-a-half years in the Rangers story. The period that can be considered the Dave King years; an era about to come to an end after the businessman announced at the agm this week he would be stepping down as chairman of a club he bought control of in 2015.

King’s imminent parting was made public in the same week Steven Gerrard’s men moved to within one result of reaching the Europa League knock-out stages for the first time in nine years and just as they face one month that could completely alter the Rangers narrative. It leaves Tavernier in no doubt as to what has taken place during King’s time at the helm.

“The club has been transformed massively,” said the 28-year-old.

The Englishman is the only current regular whose Rangers experiences go far beyond the club as top-flight challengers to a dominant Celtic
under a charismatic manager recognised as one of the heavyweight figures of British football who has presided over the Ibrox team making huge strides on the continental stage. Tavernier was signed by Mark Warburton to assist in the quest to extricate Rangers from the Championship.

Little wonder then that he sees the clutch of games coming up – that will bring a League Cup final against Celtic in nine days time, a Europa League shoot-out against Young Boys in a fortnight, and a derby in the east end at the end of December – as adding up to the “biggest month” of his time at the club.

“We have reached the final and it’s in our hands to reach the last 32 of the Europa League. So it’s a great month of football coming up,” he said.”

Yet, Tavernier knows, with the club tied on points with a nine-in-a-row-chasing Celtic and a series of league games for the pair before they meet, that blinkers require to be applied right now. “We have got to take it step by step and Hearts [tomorrow] is our full focus,” said the defender, a £200,000 signing from Wigan in July 2015.

Comparisons – or perhaps more accurately, contrasts – between then and now are acute. “It was a great squad that I came into when I first arrived at the club under Mark Warburton,” Tavernier
said. “But the players have got better and the team is a lot better too. You can look back on the [2016] Scottish Cup final when we played Hibs. If you look at the team we had on the pitch and the players we had on the bench and compare that to now then we’ve got Jermain Defoe on the bench. The levels of quality in the squad here now is massive. This club has really
gone in the right direction over the past five years.”

Tavernier is the only survivor from the 3-2 loss to Hibs who will be back at Hampden next Sunday. And while Defoe is bidding to shake off a groin injury to offer Gerrard an option from the bench in the decider against Celtic that will likely see him seated beside such as Joe Aribo and Scott Arfield, in 2016 Warburton’s comparable game-changers were Nicky Clark, Dean Shiels and Nicky Law.

It is the presence of Gerrard more than any other individual, though, that testifies to Rangers regaining a lofty status in the game. Without King’s input, it is difficult to believe the former Liverpool and England captain would have been attracted to Ibrox.

“I don’t know that, but we are obviously lucky to have him,” Tavernier said. “He has been fantastic for us since he has walked through the door.”

What needs to be done is for Rangers to end the search for major honours. “Everyone signed up here to win cups and we are in a final so when that game comes we will do our very best to bring a trophy back to Ibrox,” Tavernier said.