In his Glasgow Times column, Rangers ambassador Derek Johnstone has urged the club’s stars to ‘get a grip of themselves’ or face disaster ahead of big fixtures against Braga and Hearts.
Steven Gerrard’s side’s form has dipped markedly in the Premiership since the return from the winter break and now sitting 12 points adrift of Celtic, albeit, with a game in hand, the league is all but over as a contest.
However, the Gers are still in two competitions: the Europa League and the Scottish Cup.
Their fate in the former will be decided this evening, as they take a 3-2 aggregate lead to Braga for the second leg of their Round of 32 tie.
A Scottish Cup quarter-final beckons on Saturday, too. Rangers travel to Tynecastle – a ground where they have dropped five points this season – to face Hearts.
Therefore, Johnstone sees the next few days as make or break for the season.
“If Rangers can win both games then that would be fantastic for Steven Gerrard and it would raise the spirits a wee bit following the draw with St Johnstone,” he wrote in the Glasgow Times. “Or, it could be a disaster and you could be staring at the nightmare scenario.”
“The players need to get a grip of themselves over the next couple of days and they need to do a lot better than they have been doing for the last few weeks.
“If the players have anything about them, they will put in two performances…These guys are here because they want to play for a big club and to win things. Well, to do that you need to stand up and be counted and that is what they need to show now.”
It’s hard to argue with Johnstone’s assessment of the circumstances.
For most Rangers fans, the league was the priority. That fact that it has already all but slipped away will be tough to stomach and for some, the remainder of the season will already have a sense of irrelevance.
While he’ll be disappointed, Steven Gerrard won’t see it that way, though. Ultimately, if he can secure the Scottish Cup, a first piece of major silverware for the club since 2011, it will be regarded as big progress.
Furthermore, making it to the last 16 of the Europa League would be a much greater return than many expected, with the run helping to put Rangers back on the map after the dark days.
Achieving both things will require excellence on the pitch, though. The final half an hour of the Braga first leg aside, things have been lacklustre in 2020.
Now, though, the players need to show both quality and heart, in order to salvage this season.