The reasons it is hard to see Rangers toppling Celtic over 38 games and Kilmarnock's top-six aim

When the Scottish Premiership season got underway last weekend, Rangers had one aim, as did Kilmarnock.

For the latter it was and still is, consolidation following promotion from the Championship.

With Derek McInnes at the helm that will be no problem. The former Aberdeen boss is not the type to shoot for the moon, Rather, he’s happy waiting in line, even being delayed to check the price difference between WHS Smith and Superdrug at the airport, before venturing into the safety zone that is a Boeing 747.

Still, a run at the top six is not of out the question. That is more to do with the man in charge than the players, many who could easily fall into the Darren Huckerby vortex. Too good for the Championship, not quite good enough for the Premiership.

McInnes, after the 2-0 win for Rangers, spoke of bridging the gap. Of surviving rather than thriving. Not a message that excites supporters, but one which will, in the end, get results.

Killie goalkeeper Sam Walker infuriated the home fans early on with his leisurely approach to goal kicks. It wasn't long before he was warned. The team’s “first port of call” was to frustrate. Frustrate they did.

Rangers’ aim, as it always is, is to win the league. To better Celtic over the course of 38 games. It is early days but it is difficult to see that being the case.

Why? Because Rangers are not any better than they were last season.

Malik Tillman impressed against Kilmarnock for Rangers. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Questions and answers

Looking at the XI which started the crucial Champions League qualifier against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, it wasn’t one which encouraged. At the same time, weirdly, and contradictory, you could envisage this Rangers squad doing better than their rivals in the group stage if they get that far but it’s not quite as easy seeing the same across a league season.

With Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos, anything is possible. Especially the latter. His mere presence elevates Rangers. The sight of him before the Kilmarnock game, warming up during it and then being brought on, gave Ibrox an energy that was missing on the field.

There is a need for John Souttar or Ben Davies to step into the left-sided centre-back role which Calvin Bassey made look so easy. Ridvan Yilmaz will get better but needs more time to adjust, as Giovanni van Bronckhorst said.

Derek McInnes will ensure Kilmarnock are competitive. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Dutchman is both proactive and reactive as a coach, flexible, not wedded to a system, style or personnel, but sometimes it is hard to get an idea of the balance he wants in midfield. Glen Kamara is one who doesn't quite seem to fit.

Then there is the final third. Morelos and Kent are excellent. Rabbi Matondo is the one player who will give the team pace. Against Kilmarnock they were too slow. Tom Lawrence finds good positions but has so far lacked follow through. Malik Tillman is a wonderful talent but is not explosive. Scott Wright is good but is he good enough on a consistent basis for Rangers?

A comfortable win against Union SG could follow a straightforward enough success over Killie but, currently, there are more questions than answers for Rangers. And, perhaps, Kilmarnock.

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