So, after a jail sentence of three years in the lower divisions turned out to be a banter-extended four, we were ready to get back to the top division and all the glamour that entails. Yes, it had been hard but now we had reached the promised land and such mouth-watering ties against, erm, Hamilton and that. Truly these are the days of our lives.
Joking aside, it HAD been too long and there was a palpable excitement going into the opening month. A decent League Cup section seemed to suggest Mark Warburton’s Rangers side had shaken off the hangover from the dismal end to the previous season. This would prove incorrect as Warburton’s summer recruitment turned out to be the equivalent of a drunken dash round Aldi’s five minutes from closing time. The much-vaunted Frank McParland – ‘the best in the business’ according to Warbs – delivered a grab-bag of assorted disappointments and dross, leaving us to pretty much get by with the team which had won promotion. Warburton persisted with his beloved 4-3-3, trying virtually every permutation in an attempt to get it to work. None did.
This failure to build in any meaningful way led to Warburton’s departure and the arrival of Pedro Caixinha. Left with an unbalanced, mediocre squad, Pedro will have a major rebuilding job this summer. To his credit, he appears to share the same views on the majority of the squad as the rest of us – pitching in kids and exiling many of the Warburton-era favourites to the sidelines.
Despite that, we finished 3rd, pretty much establishing that as our baseline – if this squad could achieve it, you’d think it would be difficult to drop below that level short of giving the front row of the Enclosure a game. Here’s how they did.
Wes Foderingham – 7
Cut down on many of the costly errors from last season, though not all. However, Wes has been one of our most consistent performers and deserves to be exempted from much of the criticism levelled at the rest of the squad. He’s also still developing and you’d think will continue to improve over the next few seasons.
Matt Gilks – 5
Cup goalkeeper who had very little to do until the League Cup semi-final against Celtic, where he had a terrific match. Rating affected by lack of games and clearly it affected him too, sparking his January return south.
Jak Alnwick – N/R
One match so obviously too early to judge.
James Tavernier – 6
Tough season for Tav. Still a good option going forward, his defensive frailties have often been ruthlessly exposed and the fans have let him know it. Worth persevering with.
Lee Hodson – 5
Bought as occasional cover for full-back and he covered for full-back occasionally. That’s about it, really. Hasn’t done much wrong but neither has he ever suggested he should have seen more game time.
Lee Wallace – 6
Struggled at first – understandably after four years in the lower leagues – but still periodically showed glimpses of the ability which got him back into the Scotland squad. Again, showed his attacking skill can be a huge asset but there continue to be questions about him defensively. Huge season ahead for the skipper.
Myles Beerman – N/R
Broke in towards the end of the season and showed signs of promise, though also struggled in Old Firm matches. Then again, not many Gers players shone in those.
Clint Hill – 7
A top professional with a strong mentality, so obviously stood out at Ibrox. Committed, good in the air and a leader. Time is right for him to go back south but he leaves with our best wishes and we’ll always have that goal to look back on.
Rob Kiernan – 4
Kiernan has plenty of decent aspects to his game but never all at once. As someone remarked, he’s got six cans of lager but not the plastic bit to hold them altogether. Beloved by Warburton, error-prone and best for all concerned if he leaves.
Danny Wilson – 5
What a baffling player Danny Wilson is. Undoubtedly talented when he can be bothered, his languid style often belies his inability to concentrate for a full match, never mind a full month. Has had good spells and some bloody awful ones. Which puts him ahead of….
Phillipe Senderos – 0
WHY? WHY ARE YOU A FOOTBALLER? WHO DECIDED? WHERE DO I APPLY?
This man’s continuing employment in this field is akin to a fat baldy wee wank with a stunningly hot girlfriend. You assume there must be something – money, charm, huge cock – but no, it really is as puzzling as it first appeared. And the really weird bit is that some daft bugger will offer him another contract this summer.
David Bates – 6
Did really well when he came in after an admittedly – and understandably – nervous start. Never going to be Baresi but he’s a defender who looks like he likes defending. High hopes also for fellow prospect Aidan Wilson who impressed in two late season appearances.
Joey Barton – 0
This was a tough one for me: I’d always considered Joey a bit of a throbber but one who could play. I was half-right. Still stunningly defended by some as ‘being right about saying we were pish’. Yes, but so was I and I wasn’t a member of the team. You don’t get points for turning to the Captain of the Titanic and saying ‘should probably have avoided that iceberg gaffer’.
Niko Kranjcar – 3
Was starting to find his form and fitness before the season-ending injury. Some lovely moments but not enough to judge.
Jordan Rossiter – N/R
Not the kid’s fault but his season really summed up the Warburton Summer Success story. Looked neat and tidy in his brief appearances but really the only thing he’ll be noted for is unknowingly introducing the term ‘7-10 days’ as a modern successor to ‘how long is a piece of string?’
Harry Forrester – 2
Genuinely struggling to remember anything he did of note all season. A shame as he has talent, but given three managers this season chose to exclude him it suggests that Harry is not long for Govan.
Jason Holt – 5
Never lacking for effort, he struggled to have much impact as an attacking midfielder early in the season as Warburton’s 4-3-3 was exposed at a higher level. Since coming in Pedro has used him in more of a defensive role, hunting the ball down and channelling his energy in a more productive way. Worth keeping.
Josh Windass – 4
Flattered to deceive all season. It’s difficult because, like many others, you get the impression he was being asked to do things he just wasn’t able to. That said, he failed to have any impact and relationship with fans is pretty poor after a series of self-inflicted social media gaffes. Probably best if he heads off.
Andy Halliday – 4
I feel sorry for Andy: he was asked to perform a role he wasn’t used to and did it reasonably well in the Championship but was ruthlessly exposed as being out of his depth at this level. Some say he gets an easy ride because he’s a bear, others suggest it’s the exact opposite. I don’t know who’s right but I do know he’ll be doing very well to remain a Ranger into next season.
Jon Toral – 4
Reasonably talented but not over-imbued with heart and at times appears to have lost a pound coin in the centre circle and keen to find it before he returns to Arsenal. Never, ever going to make it there, by the way.
Emerson Hyndman – 5
Very talented player but struggled after an initial burst. Loan will have done him good and definitely one who has a chance to make it down south. His social media posts informing of us who we were playing, where it was being played and what time it kicked off will be sorely missed.
Jamie Barjonas – N/R
A few promising first-team appearances will hopefully be enough to earn him a first-team squad berth for next season. One to watch.
Barrie McKay – 6
Some fantastic moments, some really poor ones and a style which doesn’t ingratiate himself to certain supporters mean wee Barrie remains one of the most divisive players at Ibrox. For me he’s without doubt the most technically gifted player we have – by a distance – and creates more opportunities than the rest of the team. Indications are he’ll be leaving and it will be fascinating to see how he does at his next club.
Kenny Miller – 8
Seriously, my POTY and a shining light in a season often covered in gloom.
Martyn Waghorn – 4
A sort of living embodiment of that ‘horse falling over a ball’ gif, Waggy will run all day but just lacks the ability needed to make that count for something. Poor finisher and it’s cost us several times this season. Time for a change.
Joe Garner – 5
He’s good in the air, he HAS scored a few goals but…I dunno. Too often involved in pointless dicking about with the opposition defenders rather than just playing the game. I’d get rid, others disagree but I’m right and deep down they know it.
Joe Dodoo – 4
Hasn’t seen a lot of game time which, to be fair, is mostly down to his habit of showing up well as a substitute then struggling as a starter. Decent finisher and there is talent there. Worth persevering with.
Michael O’Halloran – 2
I had high hopes for MOH, but he’s done nothing to justify his signing. Some players just won’t succeed at demanding clubs and he’s certainly one of them. Baffling signing from Warburton, who pursued him with the relentless drive of a horny divorcee at kicking out time in the Savoy then immediately decided he was pish and benched him.
So farewell then 2016/17, you were long and painful but the great thing about being a football fan is that as desperate as I was for this season to end, I can’t wait for the next one to begin. No daft assumptions here but if we can get some quality in and finish 15-20 points better off – regardless of what that means in terms of league position – I’d be happy with the progress. Over to you Pedro.
Written by David Edgar