Rangers: Five biggest talking points of 2020
What started with a poor run of form after warm weather training in Dubai, is ending with a six-month unbeaten start to the season and a significant advantage on top of the SPFL Premiership, but five things stand out from a year like no other at Ibrox.
After three seasons at Rangers and 84 goals across all competitions interest in Alfredo Morelos, was, and still is, a dominant subject of discussion. A summer-long transfer saga saw many names linked from Crystal Palace to China, and the likes of AC Milan and Porto in between.
Lille apparently agreed a deal with the Colombian but failed with a highest bid of £16m – £4m shy of Rangers’ valuation – and the French side then signed Canadian striker Jonathan David, leaving ‘El Bufalo’ to hit the worst goalscoring patch in his Rangers career with just one Scottish strike since September, deployed in a different role alongside Kemar Roofe.
Puskas award in waiting
During 27 matches undefeated there’s only been 12 goals against Rangers and 75 scored, at time of writing.
James Tavernier’s free-kick against Dundee United was as good as you’ll see from dead-ball situations but THE memorable goal of the year has to be Roofe’s halfway-line finish that ended Standard Liege’s six-year unbeaten European home record, in a monsoon, with Rangers holding on to a slender one-goal lead. To execute such a finish after beating three men, under pressure, in those conditions - that’s the year’s WOW moment.
Scoring a stunning 32-yard free-kick at Tannadice isn’t all the Rangers captain has achieved recently. The right-back approached Christmas as the top goalscorer in Scotland, the top assist-maker in Scotland and quite simply in the form of his life.
A far cry from his much maligned programme notes one Wednesday night in March ahead of a dismal home defeat to Hamilton Accies – the nadir of the year – where he admitted ‘whenever teams put a bit of pressure on us in Scotland or gets in our face it affects us too much’.
Rangers lost again, but haven’t lost since, and Tavernier has played THE biggest role in that feat on the field.
Gerrard’s ‘all in’
Yet the year which now holds so much hope started with such horrible form and there were even question marks of the manager seeing out the season. A disconsolate Steven Gerrard seemed at the end of his tether amid that wretched period - Scottish Cup elimination to bottom-of-the-league Hearts looked like the last straw in February.
But a few days later after “serious thinking to do”, he was “all in” again.
Though the form didn’t improve immediately, you’ll be hard pushed to find a Rangers fan right now who isn’t “all in” on the manager.
Rangers, the SPFL and the ‘smoking gun’ dossier
On the field was only half the story of the year with COVID-19 making matters off it just as significant in 2020. Ibrox was front and centre in the drama over the contested conclusion to last season due to the pandemic amid all sorts of ill-feeling and dispute with games unable to be played in the second quarter of the year.
Rangers produced a ‘smoking-gun’ dossier and called for change in SPFL hierarchy with an independent inquiry during the stormy days between March and May, but the league concluded without completion and promotion and relegation went ahead before July’s restart.