Rangers captain Lee Wallace remains confident the Ibrox club remain on track for promotion despite claims that their opponents have worked out “how to stop them”.
The Championship leaders’ title bid has stuttered in recent weeks, with Saturday’s home draw with Morton the latest slip-up. They remain three points ahead of second-placed Hibernian, with the sides due to meet in Glasgow on 28 December.
Wallace is confident in the club’s ability to return to the top flight because, he says, Rangers are “the best side and have the best manager”. But the aura of invincibility that seemed to surround the club in the early part of the season is in danger of evaporating.
Morton striker Denny Johnstone claimed that they, and others in the division, have wised up to how Rangers play and, consequently, are able to plan accordingly.
“We had an indication how to stop them playing and frustrate them,” he said.
“We knew they wouldn’t put many crosses into the box. They seem to get into wide areas a lot but tend not to put [the ball] in and then they go square.
“We tried to keep a good shape and stay in it for as long as we could.”
Rangers have been rumbled, he claimed, but Ibrox captain Wallace refuses to accept that his side is as one-dimensional as critics contend. Indeed, in spite of dropping seven points in their last five matches, he insists that they are superior to their peers in the second tier.
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“At Rangers we’re always full of respect for our opponents even if we don’t always get that back in return,” said the 26-year-old.
“We’re not going to cry about it because we know we are the best side and that we have the best manager and the best training ground in Murray Park.
“It’s up to us, as players, to go out and maximise those advantages on a Saturday.”
Wallace also attributes the recent hiccup in form to the club’s new faces discovering, and adapting to, what is required to represent Rangers.
“We’re aware of the comments made by certain opposition players we’ve faced in recent weeks but it’s just about us trying to better ourselves,” he said.
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“Equally, we’re aware of the fact that we can’t be dropping points at home to teams like Morton but what this evolving squad and our manager – who is new to the league – are finding out is that, whenever a team faces us, whether it’s home or away, it’s their cup final.
“Maybe the newer lads have had to get to grips with that , but we accept it and we need to make sure that we’re the best Rangers we can be. “
When Rangers played Hibs at Easter Road on 1 November, a victory for the Championship leaders would have stretched their lead at the top of the table to 11 points. Having won each of their opening 12 fixtures, they were rated odds-on to achieve that outcome and, by so doing, transform the title race into a procession.
Instead, Hibs breathed new life into the division by beating Mark Warburton’s side 2-1. Since that defeatRangers have prevailed at home against basement club Alloa Athletic and second-bottom Dumbarton but they have also been held at Livingston and, on Saturday, by Morton at Ibrox.
“I wouldn’t say that this is our first real test,” Wallace said. “There have been different instances with a young team and, even when we were flying and winning games by five or six goals, we kept our feet on the ground.
“That was the mindset the manager instilled in us and it’s still the same. We’re in a period where we’re maybe not quite as fluid and performances have dipped a wee bit but, in no way, shape or form, is there any panic in the ranks over our results.
“We’re working harder than ever to try to get our swagger back. I wouldn’t say there is any truth that teams have sussed us out. We have a lot of different aspects to our game.”
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