Rangers' Andrew Little scores a late equaliser against Hearts.
So a fair bit of SPL action to catch up on including salvaging that single point at home in the 1 – 1 draw to Hearts followed by a 2 – 0 away victory to St Mirren and finally last weekend’s 3 – 0 home win against Falkirk; all which has helped open up a 10 point gap at the top of the SPL table against city rivals Celtic.
One senior player who’s also been enjoying his own purple patch is Midfielder Steven Davis, and like many others in the Scottish Game and at Ibrox I am a huge fan of Davis. His consistency and ever industrious style of play coupled with his vision and creative touch all which helps supply that ‘killer pass’ (which was clearly on show against Falkirk at the weekend) is a truly great spectacle to watch.
Steven Davis gives Rangers the lead against Falkirk, in a game where he scored and helped run the show.
It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by manager Walter Smith who has hailed the Northern Ireland Internationalist as the best player in the country after watching him orchestrate the 3-0 victory over The Bairns.
"Steven Davis has been playing exceptionally well recently and added a couple of goals for us which is great. If there is a better player going around in the country then we have yet to see him. He is doing exceptionally well for us at the present moment.
"He has played well for us since he came here, he is a very consistent performer and he has been a big part of our team since he came. He has shown in central midfield what he can do and he is a central midfield player more than anything else.
"But, because of our situation in having more central midfielders, he has been asked to go to the right-hand side and it's not affected him greatly. He still turns in decent performances and, recently, I think he has been a bit of an inspiration for the whole team. ‘’
Having a player of Davis’s calibre in the current squad almost seems like a decadent dream of previous Rangers personnel who graced the Ibrox grass under the Dick Advocaat era and Walter Smiths first stint in charge. Back to a time where money was no object in luring box office signings to Ibrox; the De Boer twins Frank and Ronald, Lorzeno Amousro, Arthur Numan, Giovanni Van Bronkhorst, Brian Laudrup, Paul Gascoigne, and Gabriel Amato (more so a personal favourite of mine) to name but a few.
So considering Davis cost Rangers £3million in August 2008 to turn his initial loan deal into a permanent acquisition, having players of his ilk in the Scottish game is something that I have began to appreciate a lot more now as sadly that ‘top end’ quality player no longer graces the landscape of Scottish football through either side of the Old Firm, especially in the last few years.
That was of course until last night when rivals Celtic captured Spurs and Ireland Captain Robbie Keane on loan until end of the season! This for sure is a ‘box office’ signing for The Tic who are paying the Irishman a reported £65K a week.
There’s no doubt about it Keane is a great signing for Celtic and I for one am a huge fan of the striker and have enjoyed watching him over the last few years playing for Spurs, Liverpool (not his most fruitful spell) and Leeds in the EPL. RK joining Celtic and playing in the SPL will help raise the profile, interest and hopefully the level of Scottish football which can only be a good thing, sentiments shared by Rangers Manager Walter Smith.
His addition to the Celtic squad will of course provide a sterner test against Celtic and for the rest of the SPL but I say bring it on.
So as Celtic paraded six new signings in recent days before last night’s midnight transfer deadline, Rangers simply had a marching parade out of Ibrox. Its adeus to Pedro Mendes who heads back home to Portugal to sign for Sporting Lisbon in a £1.5million deal and it’s au revoir to The Loan Ranger Jerome Rothen who signs for Turkish side Ankaragücü and finally youngster Steven Lennon joins former Celtic Striker Chris Sutton, now Lincoln City Manager on loan until the end of the season.
Sad to see Pedro leave as he was truly a quality player; he helped the Rangers cause by playing his part during his 18months at the club by helping capture the SPL Title and Scottish Cup last season and of course for creating an everlasting memory in the minds of all Rangers fans for his memorable 30 yard strike into the Celtic goal in the first Old Firm match of the 2008/09 season. Sometimes accused (me included) of not ‘turning it on’ enough at Rangers but when he did ‘turn it on’ it was a joy to watch him make those elegant runs and classy touches across the Ibrox pitch.
Pedro Mendes wants one last crack at the World Cup.
A player of Pedro’s ilk leaving can’t be a good thing but Rangers do have a number of options and cover in midfield so you can see why the club thought lets cash in on the player while he’s still under contract. He still harbours World Cup ambitions having been recalled into the Portuguese national side during his spell at Rangers and with it being World Cup Year and having a young family it makes sense on a number of levels to head back home.
Todo o melhor Pedro!
Jerome Rothen was a bit of an enigma during his brief spell with Rangers although he won a few ‘man of the match’ awards he never really ‘did it’ for Walter Smith so this particular French escapade has to go down as one of those ones that simply didn’t work out or call it an expensive (£15K a week) mistake by the Rangers Management team. He won’t be missed but we wish him well at his new club Ankaragücü.
So with Pedro’s £25K a week and Rothen’s £15K a week wages up for grabs the Blue Half of Glasgow were probably anticipating (as was I) a signing of some sort be it a Bosman or Loan signing. Sadly for the SPL Champions there was ‘naebody’ in sight. A bit of good news coming out of this transfer window was the Club knocking back bids for three players including Boyd, Bougy and McGregor. The latter was being chased as a loan signing for the rest of the season by long term admirers Spurs and Harry Redknapp.
Thankfully all three remained at Rangers.
Speaking on the Rangers Website today, this was Walters Smiths reaction to the activity surrounding the first transfer window of the year, he said:
"We are glad to have kept hold of everyone who is still here. That was obviously a big thing for us.
"Although we lost a couple of lads, it was our own decision to do that and we're happy everyone else is left to play for us between now and the end of the season.
"I couldn't speak highly enough about the players who are here. They've been fantastic for us.
That's three transfer windows now that we've not bought anyone but every player we do have has committed himself to the club and they've been great."
Smith added: "We are a little bit disappointed we weren't able to add anyone to the group but we couldn't do so and we'll just have to get on with things.
"Celtic are to be congratulated for bringing in the players they got and that will obviously be of benefit to them.
"In last year's transfer window they didn't bring anyone in and we ended up catching up with them and winning the league.
"Hopefully that situation is not reversed this year and we can continue the form we have shown so far. "
I received a text message from a Rangers Season ticket holder last night as the transfer window closed; it pretty much sums up the mood of the Ibrox faithful as yet another transfer window passes with no new signings but more importantly its shows the faith in the current Rangers personnel.
“Pretty sad that we (Rangers) now get excited if we don’t sell anyone".
It was followed by another which read:
“Too much change over there (at Celtic). I’m still confident”.
Only time will tell if there has indeed been too much change over at Celtic Park.
Even with the loss of Pedro Mendes, an injury plagued squad and no new signings Rangers continue to forge ahead with a tentative lead of 10points at the top of the SPL league table. The SPL Champions are proving to be a team who are playing with a deep resilience, tenacity, consistency and collective character.
I am indeed pretty confident too.
Dated 2nd February 2010.
Keep up to date with the Blue Half of Glasgow via ESPN’s Soccernet Rangers Homepage and Club Blog.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Co-operative Insurance Cup Semi Final
Rangers v St Johnstone kick off 19:35.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Active Nation Scottish Cup
St Mirren v Rangers, Round 5 kick off 12:30.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Motherwell v Rangers, kick off 19:45 - Live on ESPN.
HOW TO GET ESPN
To subscribe and watch ESPN, call 0844 324 1540 or contact your digital TV provider directly.