Former Old Firm striker Kenny Miller believes Todd Cantwell and Nicolas Raskin proved they can be the ‘posterboys’ for a Rangers rebuild following Saturday’s 3-0 thrashing of Celtic at Ibrox.
Not so long ago, Cantwell was being linked with £40 million moves to the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester City. Raskin was, according to former Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, on the radar of ‘top European clubs’. Barcelona reportedly among them.
So Rangers always had two potentially game-changing talents on their hands. The task, facing Mick Beale, was to discover a system capable of bringing the best out of both of his January additions. And, as Celtic crossed the city on Saturday lunchtime, the Gers boss did just that.
Todd Cantwell shines in Old Firm thrashing
After a trio of heartbreaking defeats to their green-clad rivals, Beale’s Rangers exacted some measure of revenge, albeit just one week after Celtic retained their title. It was furious, thrilling and, most of all, fun.
With six tackles and 11 ball recoveries (WhoScored), the ever-industrious Raskin proved that he can step into the shoes of Ryan Jack; the beating heart of Rangers’ blood-pumping midfield. Cantwell, meanwhile, was almost as effective off the ball as he was on it, and that’s saying something; the £2.5 million signing looking more like the £40 million man who caught the eye for Norwich in the Premier League with a fabulous early volley.
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“It was a brilliant performance from Cantwell, from start to finish. He was the catalyst for so much of the good stuff Rangers did,” Miller, who had two spells at Rangers either side of a stint at Celtic, tells the Daily Record.
“In any good move, he seems to be involved at some stage of it. Off the ball, he’s also pivotal to how Michael wants his team to play.
“His contribution was superb yesterday when Rangers weren’t in possession, in terms of his tracking back and turning Celtic over. He hustled their players into mistake with his pressing and breaking up of their play.”
A new Rangers
It may have been the deadest of dead rubbers in terms of the table. But, as far as Beale is concerned, the Rangers boss will have taken so many positives out of a performance which showed that these players – or a handful of them at least – are capable of going head-to-head with, and coming out on top against, the Premiership’s dominant force.
In Cantwell and Raskin, meanwhile, Rangers have two players who do not cower from the big occasion but embrace it. A side who so often have suffered from stage fright now have two natural-born thespians belting out their lines to an enthralled audience.
“Cantwell took the game to Celtic,” Miller adds. “And that’s what’s been missing at Ibrox for a while now. That’s the type of performance Rangers need from their big players.
“He looks so hungry. It looks to me like he has said to himself; ‘Someone needs to take responsibility here and take this team by the scruff of the neck to beat Celtic’.
He can be the poster boy for the big changes Beale is going to make at Rangers this summer. He’s getting better with every game. He was outstanding beside another January recruit, Nico Raskin.
And I’ll tell you something. If Beale’s first two signings are anything to go by ahead of the next window, Rangers fans can start getting excited. If he can get more in the door like those two, they will be so much stronger than they’ve been this season.”