Scottish champions Rangers have been on an absolute tear this season. The Steven Gerrard-led side broke Celtic’s monopoly over the national crown and they did it a canter. They have outscored their counterparts across Europe by a mile and currently hold a 23 point lead over their nearest challengers.
🏆 We Are Rangers
🏆 We Are Champions#Champion55 pic.twitter.com/UjiBguexfe
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) March 7, 2021
Their season has been a revelation in attacking football, the likes of which even Bayern Munich, Manchester City and PSG have failed to match, with ESPN ranking them as the highest-scoring team across 20 leagues in Europe with 131 goals. So how did this come to pass?
The Liverpool icon is in this third year as boss and safe to say, this has been his best yet. Rangers finished second in both his previous seasons but had been showing signs of considerable improvement. The players that Gerrard has brought in over these three seasons have been the difference in their romp to the title.
🙌 Our @GIPHY page has been updated.
📲 https://t.co/lWVEwC0sPc pic.twitter.com/uaU3R8QFe0
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) May 6, 2021
With a scouting system that is considered world-class and picking up the right men for the right positions, along with keeping the old heads in James Tavernier, Alfredo Morales and Ryan Jack, it says something about his tactical nous that 39-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor leads the league in clean sheets kept!
🧤🙅♂️🚫 You shall not pass!
Allan McGregor & Fraser Forster lead the way in #SPFL Clean Sheets chart, with 1⃣3⃣ apiece.
Check out more stats & facts here 👇https://t.co/Gn46sYLra7 pic.twitter.com/84SnKUMXUF
— SPFL (@spfl) February 18, 2020
Gerrard has been pretty fluid in his formation over the season switching among 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-3-1-2. The two strikers up top is something of a rarity these days in top-flight football, with teams moving to one central man and wingers alongside him.
This has no doubts paid rich dividends for the Scottish giants. They have scored four or more goals 14 times in all competitions this season and have an average of 2.36 goals scored in the league so far.
13 Europa League Games
36 Scottish Premiership Games
5 Domestic Cup matches
1 defeat in injury time
1 defeat on penalties
51 games unbeaten
— ArfieldLoyal37 (@Arfieldloyal37) May 5, 2021
Also, they are undefeated in the league. Yes, Gerrard’s team have tasted defeat in the top-flight since March 4, 2020. Though they suffered a shock exit in the Europa League round-of-16 with a rare goalless defeat in the second leg at home to Slavia Prague, there can be no doubt that when it comes to Scotland- Rangers are the team to beat.
ALL THE GERRARD’S MEN
Make no mistake, this whole campaign has been a total team effort. The goals have come all over the pitch, literally. Let’s have a look at it with respect to positions on the pitch.
The defence has contributed 37 goals. You read that right, Gerrard’s defenders have tallied almost one-third of the total goals scored. Their captain James Tavernier has led the way with 18 goals. He’s a right-back! Tavernier has also set up nine goals for his teammates which is the second highest in the league. The club captain makes his presence known on both sides of the team with VC Connor Goldson, formerly of Brighton, chipping in with eight.
79 – With a goal and assist today, full-back James Tavernier has now been directly involved in 79 goals for Rangers under Steven Gerrard in all competitions (37 goals, 42 assists); no player has had a hand in more for the club since 2018-19 (level with Alfredo Morelos). Lethal. pic.twitter.com/lSCQw9Vp47
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2020
This is not to say that they have given their defensive duties amiss. Rangers hold the stingiest backline in the league with only 13 goals conceded. The goal difference is a staggering +72, which is enough to warrant them a place among Europe’s elite this season.
Coming to the middle of the park, ex-Liverpool winger Ryan Kent has rejuvenated his young career with 50 appearances across all competitions which have yielded 12 goals. He has been joined by Ianis Hagi, son of Romanian icon Gheorghe, with the pair of them totaling 18 assists in the league itself.
🔵 Ianis Hagi (22) for Rangers this season in the Scottish Premiership:
✅ 30 Games
⚽️ 6 Goals
🅰️ 10 Assists
⏱ 1808 Minutes
🇷🇴 The Romania playmaker has shown flashes of brilliance since arriving in Glasgow but needs to add consistency and nail down a regular place. pic.twitter.com/i5FbzfFUha
— Soccer Manager Games (@SoccerManager) May 2, 2021
Joe Aribo, signed from Charlton Athletic, and veteran Scott Arfield have been two of the most bargain buys of the Gerrard years, totaling £0.3m. They have been instrumental in breaking up plays all season and leading the counter charge, expertly marshaled by another veteran, former Southampton captain Steven Davis. This has resulted in Rangers leading the way with the highest average of accurate passes and second-highest in terms of possession per match over the league season.
Up top, Morelos has continued firing on all cylinders and has found an able ally in Kemar Roofe. The pair of them have each contributed 16 goals in all competition, with Roofe being an instant hero in his debut season with the club after his brace against Celtic in the Old Firm derby in their last match. Gerrard also has new signing Cedric Itten and old workhorse Jermaine Defoe to call upon from the bench when he needs to.
🔥 @roofe with an Old Firm double. pic.twitter.com/s7E9RClNFM
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) May 4, 2021
All of which has culminated into one extraordinary season for the club which only a decade ago had had to drop down to the lower echelons of Scottish football. Now Gerrard has lead his team to the ultimate prize and there is no stopping this juggernaut from continuing on its rampaging ways as next season rolls around.
There is no doubt that Gerrard’s attention will now turn to the Champions League next season, where he will be desperate to have a good showing and prove that this season was not a one-off. Domestically, they have a very real chance of repeating as league champions again with their mantra of scoring and scoring some more. This Rangers side is not one to be trifled with anymore, that’s for certain.