Ryan Jack prepared to cry at Hampden again - as long as it's tears of joy at a Rangers cup win

Losing the Betfred Cup final to Celtic in the manner they did was too much for Ryan Jack
Losing the Betfred Cup final to Celtic in the manner they did was too much for Ryan Jack
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The rain poured at Hampden and Ryan Jack was overcome with tears of despair. Next time, he wants to have tears of joy as the red, white and blue ticker tape falls from the sky.

Jack put his heart into the Betfred Cup final last month but saw his dreams shattered as Celtic snatched the medals and lifted the first silverware of the season.

It was too much for the midfielder to take at the whistle and he was one of a handful of players that showed their emotions. On a day of one overwhelming negative, it was another small positive for Steven Gerrard to take, though.

The Ibrox boss was pleased to see how much it meant to his side and urged those crestfallen stalwarts to use the disappointment as motivation. The reaction in the Premiership has been just what was required and now the Gers will get their Scottish Cup campaign off and running when they host Stranraer on Friday evening after returning from their winter training camp in Dubai.

"Rangers have to compete in all competitions they play in,” Jack said. “It's the first step in a trophy we want to do well in and try to win.

"The feeling more than anything you come away from that with when you have dominated a game and done so well to lose it just gives you that extra motivation to hopefully put that right.

"Football is emotional at times and there's no shame in showing emotion after a tough game. We have worked hard all year and we wanted to win a trophy.

“It never happened and we played so well, which made it even more tough to take but, especially for myself, we'll use that as extra motivation going forward, it makes me determined to try and put it right.

"Of course the boys care, we get paid to try and win trophies and compete in Europe and that's what we want to do, so when it gets taken away from you the way it did, it's tough to take but we'll go again - it's in the past now. We've come over here, we've recharged our batteries. We're focused and set our demands and will go again.”

Boss Gerrard has ticked off the boxes one by one since arriving at Ibrox but the most significant – delivering silverware – still has to be achieved by Rangers.

The progress on and off the park is clear and Jack perhaps sums up how transformational Gerrard has been as the midfielder continues to go from strength to strength.

"It has, 100 per cent,” Jack said when asked about the rise in standards since his arrival at Ibrox. “Throughout the club, the standards, demands, the players, the staff, everything has just kept moving.

“The staff that have come in have been excellent, the players that have come in, added to what's here, have been excellent, so it's gelling really well and hopefully it can continue.

"You don't want to stand still, you want to keep going. I've had a bit of praise for the first half of the season, but I've not really done anything yet.

“It will be the end of the season when I look back and see what we've won and what I've done. I've got to continue the form I've been in and just keep going forward and hopefully keep winning games.”

The form that Jack has shown this term has seen him firmly establish himself as one of the most consistently impressive players in the Premiership as his game has gone up several levels.

There is personal satisfaction to be taken for the 27-year-old but he knows it is what the Light Blues do and achieve together that is the most important thing this term.

Jack said: "It has to be [a collective effort]. The amount of difficult games we play, if it ever starts becoming about individuals we'll get found out, so the manager has always driven home it's about the team and within the team certain individuals will do well and people will have dips of form, people will score goals, won't score goals, but it's always about the team.

"Parkhead was the perfect example. Alfredo hasn't scored and you are looking for someone to go and win us the game and Niko steps up, who has not really played all season until Fil got injured. He works hard throughout that time and gets rewarded, scores the winner for Rangers at Parkhead.”

That victory three weeks ago ensured Rangers went into the shutdown within striking distance of Celtic and Gerrard’s side also have a game in hand on their Old Firm rivals.

Only a handful of points have been dropped this term and Jack is confident Rangers won’t repeat the mistakes that saw their title challenge fizzle out in Gerrard’s first campaign at Ibrox.

"It was disappointing last year,” he said. “We actually started well in that game, dominated it for 25-30 minutes and then as soon as Kilmarnock scored it never went well.

“We have to use that, look at what we did, how we set up for that week. I'm sure the staff and players will do that but going forwards there is a lot of new faces, a lot of changes.

"That [resilience] just comes with the belief in what the staff are doing with us, the belief in the players that you have alongside you when you step on the pitch.

“We have international players throughout the team, so when we go into tough environments in Europe and Parkhead, Pittodrie, Tynecastle and Easter Road, it's just stand up, stay in the game and we'll always create chances.”