5 to Follow - St. Johnstone

Sunday sees Rangers return to Ibrox to face off against St Johnstone, following on from Thursday nights highly impressive showing in Spain, where we picked up a vital point in our opening game in the Europa league vs Villarreal. Four years after gaining a draw away to Alloa. 

The second half on Thursday evening was as well as I've seen a Rangers side play in quite some time, all we need now is to put it together for a whole game, and we really will be a formidable side. What you can see is that we are growing as a side with every game and the team spirit determination is clear for all to see, twice coming from behind in Spain is no mean feat, regardless of the form or perceived strength of the opposition. Do not underestimate the importance of the result. 

Yes, we were taught a hard lesson after getting ourselves back into the game, switching off for their second goal so quickly after equalising for the first time, but it's the way we responded that I'm sure had all fans feeling so proud, that and the overall quality of our goals. Well done to all concerned. 

Sunday's game is just as important and vital, for other reasons and St Johnstone has proved a tough opponent in previous seasons at Ibrox. The Perth side currently occupies the eighth position in the table, however, that is due to goal difference as they have equal points (8) to us, coming off a home 1-1 draw with Aberdeen last time out. 

Here are the 5 Storylines to follow vs St Johnstone. 


We have all seen it so many times a side gets a great result in European competition only to fall short against perceived lesser opponents the following game. For one reason or another, some sides can struggle following the bright lights of an European night to rise to the challenge of domestic football again. See Burnley as a prime example this season. The travel, effort and glamour of playing on a big stage can sometimes lead to a touch of complacency creeping into sides. We must guard against this. Complacency is the enemy at all times. There is no question we are by far the better side heading into this clash. Don't beat ourselves.

Keeping up our good form and applying some pressure during this run of fixtures, something I fully expect us to achieve. Don't kid yourself Thursday nights result will have echoed not only over the continent but across the city. They have not faced any kind of sustained competition for quite some time, after all, we welcome the chase. 


If Steven Gerrard is to try a 3 at the back again, the last time out being the draw at Fir Park this could well be the fixture. Katic was said to be rested for Thursday's game having played a large number of matches since his arrival, making way for on-loan singing Joe Worrel who played at an extremely high level in the draw beside Connor Goldson. 

I think this is a game too early for a debut for Gareth McAuley. 

Katic has not put a foot wrong since joining, so having all three centre-backs in fine form can only be a positive and give the manager a selection headache. 

I think a home fixture like this could be the perfect opportunity to see how all three play as a unit, allowing the full-backs to push further up, getting into wide areas where both are best and most dangerous with the crosses they are capable of providing, the type of ones that give defenders nightmares. This is an area that proved more than beneficial on Thursday, it's clearly an area of the park the manager sees we can exploit and create chances from. 


On a number of occasions so far this season we have started games a touch flat, especially in the first half. Go impose ourselves from the first whistle. 

The second half on Thursday should be all The evidence we need to show just how capable and dangerous we are when we play our pressing game, such was the improvement after the interval that we can count ourselves a little unlucky not to take maximum points. 

I really felt in the first half the press was off, it's just wasn't what we are used to or indeed capable of. I, both know and understand you are not going to have all the possession, especially away in Europe, however, Villarreal were no world beaters, and we gave them far too much respect at stages, dropping a good ten yards deeper both times after equalising. Keep up the press, force teams into errors, especially one's like we will face at Ibrox on Sunday, you know there centre halfs and fullbacks will not be all that comfortable on the ball, win it high up, get them on their back foots and heels, chances will come. 

Start well and this game could be out of reach by half-time, just like last Saturday's match with Dundee at Ibrox. 


Last season our home form was a joke, it fell far below of the standards expected from any Rangers side, no matter who was in charge or what you thought of some of the playing squad. 

It was clear some players in last seasons squad and the managers lacked the mentality to cope with the pressure of a demanding support. That won't change, it has been the same from my first visit to our fantastic stadium and will remain long after I am gone. That's how it should be. We are Rangers success is expected, we do not accept second best or never should. 

One of the most pleasing things so far has been the upturn on the home form since the gaffers arrival, long may it continue. It has been too long since visiting teams came to Ibrox with a sense of dread, rather than hope, St Johnstone has enjoyed victory here on a number of times. Opposition players in previous seasons have enjoyed coming to Ibrox far too much for all our liking I'm sure.

The visitors will be well drilled, coached and will look to stifle us, this could be a game where patience and support are needed from the crowd. I suspect St Johnstone will sit deep and look to hit on the counter. 

That has changed now. Let's keep it up.


No doubt playing at such a level for so long on Thursday night will have taken some form of a physical toll on the squad. The manager may opt to freshen things up in a few key areas, keeping players on their toes in the process. 

The players who didn't play a part in the Europa a league match in Spain will be desperate to show they are worthy of a place in the side, especially with big more European nights around the corner. 

Morelos and Katic are the most obvious candidates for a starting role, we may see Grezda given his first start, or the manager might just decide to keep faith in the side who performed so admirably just a few short days ago. 

It is always a delicate and difficult balancing act when deciding between changes, keeping the whole squad happy and building on the confidence the squad has. 

I'm sure like me you have faith and trust in the manager to make the right calls, in the correct areas. 

Three more points will do just nicely, thank you. 

PREDICTION - Rangers 2 - 0 St Johnstone

Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan) 

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