Rangers training ground talks revealed, Napoli response but unwanted 131-year record

The SPFL’s decision to postpone the weekend’s Premiership fixture card was a benefit to Rangers after the most torrid of weeks.

A 4-0 spanking away to their eternal foes, followed by another 4-0 trousering in their first sojourn into the Champions League group stage since 2010, brought about talk of crisis.

Pittodrie was originally the next destination, prior to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II which brought a period of national mourning and the postponements out of respect.

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Rangers had lost just once at Aberdeen since 2009, but the manner in which they lost those games to Celtic and Ajax had the Dons sensing an upset. Such a result would have increased the pressure on Giovanni van Bronckhorst, pushed the club deeper into crisis and, with Celtic to play Livingston at home, likely further behind in the title race.

While the club paid its respects and mourned Queen Elizabeth II, the extra time to take stock, to talk, to work on the training field was on display against Napoli on Wednesday, until James Sands was sent off prior to the hour mark when the score was 0-0.

The Serie A leaders may have gone on to win 3-0 but there was a determination, an organisation and a clear plan for that game which could be viewed from the stands as they stood toe-to-toe with an exciting, dynamic side, something which Rangers have looked the antithesis of in recent weeks.

"We have obviously had meetings back at the training ground,” midfielder Ryan Jack said. “The last two results haven’t been good enough and we have all had to look in the mirror, myself included. I think it was clear to see that everyone was giving their all and ran ourselves into the ground.

"Hopefully going forward that is the benchmark for us as a squad and as a team when everyone on the pitch can empty the tank. When you do that, more often than not you will get the result.”

Rangers' Ryan Jack in action against Napoli. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

"I think maybe the last two performances, what we have worked on and then what we as players have taken onto the pitch has not looked the same. What we worked on in the last two or three days in training, how it looked on the pitch is exactly how we worked it.

"Pressing high, getting after them, not giving them time and getting in their faces. For large spells it worked.”

‘Meet that demand’

The whizz behind the brilliant SPLStats Twitter account is “99 per cent confident” that the only other time Rangers have lost three consecutive games, while conceding at least three goals in each, was 1891.

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This weekend Dundee United are the perfect opposition, on paper, to get back to winning ways after three successive defeats, no goals scored and 11 conceded.

“There is always a drama when you lose two on the bounce and three on the bounce," Jack said. “It is unheard of for us and as players you have to front it up and take that responsibility.

"You don’t get the time to feel sorry for yourself or feel down, you have got to analyse what has gone wrong and go and put it right on the pitch. You see that is what these fans and this club demands so the players have to meet that demand.”

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