As Rangers slip-up against Hibs, there is nothing that sums up the pressure on the Scottish Premiership title race with Celtic more than the subsequent post-match reaction.

We might only be four games into the campaign but as 9-man Rangers failed to hold on in a 2-2 draw at Easter Road the Ibrox nerves have already started jangling.

Refereeing criticism is undoubtedly relevant – John Lundstram’s red card in particular was a disgraceful decision from a referee Rangers have regular run-ins with – but the fact these dropped points have been met with such frustration points to something a little deeper in the background.

Celtic’s explosive start to the season has plenty looking over at the eastend, with Parkhead fans also casting glances towards the southside as a feeling grows that any minor slip-up could potentially evolve into a major one come May.

But from a Rangers point of view, the Ibrox club and their board have nobody to blame but themselves for allowing Celtic back on an even keel and surrendering last season’s pivotal title to Parkhead.

Rangers board heap pressure underestimated Celtic rebuild

At this point, Rangers should still be Champions, should have a ticket to the Champions League Group Stages and should be out of sight of last season’s rebuilding rivals.

Instead, there is a nervousness about the patient and overly respectful tactics of the pragmatic Giovanni van Bronckhorst in Scottish football and around the ability of the club’s key players to deliver.

This is why this season has such a tense backdrop and the fact Rangers never took the post-55 opportunity to bury their Old Firm rivals and kickstart a period of domestic dominance must be a source of massive regret in the Ibrox boardroom.

Hibernian FC v Rangers FC - Cinch Scottish Premiership
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

As the Parkhead club were splashing £20m+ on a new squad last summer, Rangers never spent a penny and brought in two players on pre-contracts in Fashion Sakala and John Lundstram.

All the noise was about Celtic just getting within touching distance of Rangers. We had a strong squad and our eye on the Champions League. The House of Cards had crumbled and Rangers were ready to dominate.

But whilst fans indulged in the hubris, the Rangers board came up short and believed their own hype a little bit too much.

A lack of ambitious investment tripped Rangers up domestically and in Europe – the Champions League failure an inexcusable one given the Malmo team we faced – and it sent a ripple through the season.

Players like Joey Veerman – now ironically at Champions League Playoff rivals PSV – could’ve made a monumental difference but the club’s investors wouldn’t dig deep.

It’s fair when you point to the losses sustained by Rangers over the period to winning 55 and there’s no doubt the support are indebted to the men who managed to get us there.

But there is something jarring about the arrogance which followed this and perhaps a move towards sustainability came a year too early when we should’ve been pushing to exert our dominance.

Pressure on Rangers board to deliver in Scottish Premiership

Instead, Rangers had to settle and it’s something which led to the exit of Steven Gerrard and ultimately the capitulation in Scotland.

The failure stretched into Gio’s reign too; as we witnessed Celtic strengthen in January,  Rangers took massive risks by signing Aaron Ramsey and Amad Diallo on loan.

Even former chairman Dave King – frustrated alongside Club 1872 mid-Sydneygate – took aim at the current regime and claimed they failed to get it right after the title win.

That surrendering of the title, and subsequent Champions League place that we’d earned for Scottish football, was genuinely unforgivable given the landscape we’d entered last season.

Steven Gerrard is Unveiled as the New Manager at Rangers
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But the impact of the Board’s dallying in this regard isn’t just consigned to the previous campaign; where another year of investment might’ve seen us stretch out in front of Celtic the gamble of consolidation has the Parkhead side our equal.

In fact, there are growing questions about this squad’s ability to outperform our Old Firm rivals and as we head into the final two weeks of the window, all eyes are now on the Board to deliver.

Yes, we’re only four games into the campaign, but the complacency of those in the Ibrox Boardroom last season means that they can’t blame us for feeling like every point is a prisoner.

Meanwhile, one Rangers-linked midfielder is reportedly a £10m target for a Premier League club.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know

More in Club News