Rangers ‘close to seeing the best of Niko Kranjcar’

Rangers' Niko Kranjcar celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
Rangers' Niko Kranjcar celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
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Assistant boss David Weir believes Rangers are close to seeing the best of Niko Kranjcar after the Croatian starred against Partick Thistle.

The former Tottenham and QPR playmaker was the stand-out performer as Gers claimed just their third Ladbrokes Premiership win of the campaign with a 2-0 Ibrox success.

He crashed home the opener 33 minutes in before Andy Halliday swept home number two soon after.

It was an encouraging display from Kranjcar, who has struggled to get himself up to peak fitness following his summer move from New York Cosmos.

But Weir feels it will not be long before he is operating at his maximum on a consistent basis.

“From day one the manager has said he’s catching up,” said Mark Warburton’s right-hand man.

“He’s a top-level player. You don’t play 80 times for Croatia, play in World Cups and European Championships without having a level of ability.

“It’s up to us to get him back to that level of fitness and that level of consistency. He showed today and he has done in flashes throughout the season the level he has. Our job is to get him to that stage.

“You saw today he’s more than capable of doing it. It’s about trying to maximise that.

“He’s working so hard. He trains hard every day, he does extras every day. He’s very conscientious in his work and he’s dedicated to what he’s doing.

“It’s hard to put a timescale on it, but you can only praise his application and his desire for doing it.”

Weir was in charge of giving touchline instructions as Warburton served a one-match ban.

The Gers boss was punished for launching into an angry outburst at referee John Beaton following his side’s defeat at Pittodrie last weekend but he would not have enjoyed the view from the stand as his team struggled to get to grips with Thistle.

The Jags did well to put the hosts under pressure at every turn but after surviving a shaky opening first half-hour, Rangers grew in confidence.

And the pressure was lifted when Kranjcar danced his way into the box before slamming the ball into the roof of the net.

Halliday struck seven minutes later as Gers pounced on Danny Devine’s loose pass and Rangers were able to grab a win which ensures they avoid recording their worst start to a league campaign since 1989.

“We’ve spoken the last few weeks about performances and not getting the result, and I think today it was probably more about the result than it was about the performance”, admitted Weir.

“Ideally you get both, but if we’re being honest, the result was probably more important.

“It was different being on the touchline. It was unusual. I was in contact with the manager via the phone.

“But we’re very similar in our thoughts and we know the team well enough to know what’s going well, what’s not going well, what we need to be better at. Our views are very similar.

“Hopefully he’ll be back on the touchline next week and I’ll enjoy being back on the bench.”

Jags boss Alan Archibald admitted his basement boys were punished for not taking their chances.

They had the opportunity to hit back just after half-time but were stunned to see Chris Erskine’s shot stay out when the ball hit keeper Wes Foderingham’s body before stopping short of the line.

“You have got to score goals when you get chances and we never took our chances,” said Archibald.

“I thought Chris’ shot was going in. He had one similar last week he took it on his right foot. But this is why we are in the position we are in - we don’t put away our chances.”

Meanwhile, Weir offered his thoughts to the victims of a bus crash involving a Rangers supporters club.

A 39-year-old man died with another 18 hospitalised after a vehicle containing members of the Nith Valley Loyal overturned on the A76 as it made its way to Saturday’s game.

He said: “Obviously there are things more important than football. Our thoughts are with the people involved, the families involved, and I’m sure the club will be very supportive in regards to anything they can do to help the situation.”

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