THE SPFL volte face means that Rangers could head into the final round of Championship fixtures with everything still in the balance and everyone very much in the dark.
They will no longer have the advantage of kicking off their last game against Hearts fully aware of what is required to see out the season as league runners-up and reduce the obstacles between themselves and a return to the top flight.
It will crank up the tension but Lee McCulloch says that the players have to be able to contend with that at a club like Rangers.
“It’s hard, of course it is, when you are under pressure. It’s the same in any job. But the fans have been superb. They’ve been with us all the way. It’s the pressure we put on ourselves. We know where we want to be come the end of the season. So it’s important we keep our focus and keep working hard for each other.”
He has had to deal with the do-or-die nature of final-day fixtures before, but in the past they were the difference between winning league titles or falling foul of their city rivals in the historical two-horse race. This time there is only a play-off advantage at stake, but he would still prefer to have matters wrapped up before he and his colleagues run out at Tynecastle on 2 May.
“It’s a bit different going into the last game of the season. But we’ve still a few games left. We know what we need to do to be in the driving seat come the start of May. It’s just about focusing on the next game and not thinking about the last day. In an ideal world we would have it done and dusted by then.”
It’s important we keep our focus and keep working hard for each otherLee McCulloch
With medals and league trophy triumphs stored in the memory bank, the rise through the leagues has given McCulloch a different sense of achievement and he doesn’t want the journey through the ranks to end.
“It would mean everything to everyone in the dressing room and myself included,” he said. “This season we have had a change of manager twice, we have been through good spells and bad spells. It’s been a rollercoaster season and what we know in the dressing room is that we’ve still got a chance to make it a positive season after everything that’s happened.
“That’s what we all want to do – and then try to kick on again next season again.”
Against a Livingston side fighting to avoid relegation, Stuart McCall’s men passed up the chance to open up a bigger gap on the other teams chasing down second place.
“We’ve hit the post and got our goal. I thought we were probably a bit unlucky overall but it’s still in our hands as to where we finish this season. We wanted all three points from Livingston. It didn’t happen but we are still in second with it in our own hands.”
Hibs’ involvement in the Scottish Cup gives the Ibrox side another chance to extend the gap against Dumbarton this weekend and pile the pressure on the capital team when they get round to playing the game in hand.
“It’s all about Saturday now,” added McCulloch. “It’s very important to get the three points and put the pressure on them. It’s all about the three points.”
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