Five to Follow - Hamilton

It's finally over, yes that time of year we all hate has passed (for now at least) the dreaded international break, we made it through the long nights spend having to talk to our other half or watching paint dry is finally past us, real football and the Rangers are back this weekend, even if we are forced to wait until Sunday. 

Rangers will head to New Douglas Park on Sunday to take on Hamilton, a team who lets face it has struggled of late conceding six goals in their last outing in the Scottish Premier League. Hamilton may sit in the ninth position currently but find themselves just three points off bottom-placed Dundee, (who have just sacked Neil McCann) and just a goal behind, by the time Sunday's match comes around it could look rather grim for the New Douglas Park side. I'm sure many bears would like to see Hamilton survive in the top flight, they are not bitter or vindictive as some as the other clubs down that end.

Personally, I have a lot of time for their chairman and they are the only club I truly believe when they say the plastic pitch installed is for financial reasons, not the case at other clubs in my humble view. 

Here are my 5 Storylines to follow vs Hamilton:

Once you've won their hearts they will follow you anywhere- Vince Lombardi


We may as well start here. Our home form has been fantastic with the level of performances to match, but away from home it has been a completely different story points have been dropped more often than won and a table based on our away form would see us in eleventh place above only St Mirren, not great viewing. It's simply not been good enough, something the Manager was at pains to stress following an impressive victory over Hearts and Rapid Vienna. 

The good news is that this is a trend I see disappearing starting on Sunday. The players will be fresh and raring to go, desperate to put things right and start playing the way not only are capable off but have shown we can. 

Hamilton are in no great shape, these are the kind of games you have to win if a title challenge is to be maintained. No more excuses, no blaming the park. End the travel sickness bug here and now.


This is another game we may see Steven Gerrard use the full extent of his squad at his disposal with a big European tie coming on Thursday night at Ibrox when we take on Spartak in the first of a doubleheader.

We now have a squad where players can come in where we don't need to panic or be trembling in fear, so I think we may see three or four changes at the very least for this game, who and where is anyone's guess. The manager likes to keep us all on our toes. Squad rotation is vital at times, and he may choose to rest players for this match or next weekend with Spartak, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock all coming up in quick succession in three separate competitions.

Scott Arfield picked up a slight knock on International duty, where he captained Canada, so may be treated with caution and rested. Elsewhere, Grezda played for Albania, so we might see the inclusion of the wide man at some point in the match. 
Every game is a big game from here on in. 


Having had both players available for training since neither were away for international duty, Morelos left out and Lafferty suffering from a slight knock possibly on his hamstring Gerrard and his coaching staff will have had an opportunity to work with both players in a formation. 

I think it fair to say that the partnership off Morelos and Lafferty hasn't really hit top gear in the settings so far, but with this international break maybe the two will have had time to work and develop their understanding. 

Hamilton on Sunday might just see the two players start, with hope and aim ultimately  to form something special to build on for Thursdays Europa League match at Ibrox, both players are ineligible for the League Cup semi at Hampden on Sunday so there is quite simply no reason why they can't play two games in five days at a high level. 

If they fail to click on Sunday chances are one, most likely Lafferty on current form you would have to say will no doubt make way and find himself a spot on the bench. 

We have of the situation where the Irish F.A are trying to block Lafferty from playing in the match following his withdrawal from the squad for the nations league match, I'm sure however Rangers and our medical staff will have assessed the injury, and have the relevant paperwork. 


Let's be honest here Hamilton are really not a great side at all. They are conceding goals left right and centre, so if the players whoever plays carry out their jobs then this game should prove no hassle at all, it's really that simple. We are rested and should be raring to go here. After the last match against Hearts players should be desperate to get on the pitch and continue the impressive showings. We will have the majority of the crowd behind us, this is not an intimidating area to play football in, its open and uneven bit of a strange design for a stadium with a supermarket at one end, like the plastic pitch the biggest challenge Rangers players should face, is in their heads. 

Ignore the noise. 


The one criticism that has been put to this team is that we only play one half of football, like Hearts and Rapid Vienna sometimes that's all you need to get the points. I know the manager is always looking to improve and will push the players on. He is not one for letting standards slip no matter who the opposition is and respect will be given to all opponents regardless of stature or recent form, that is never in doubt he is a man of class, its why he is so respected the world over. 
Stevie G will be drilling into his players that we can always improve, so why not start on Sunday with a complete game of football, keep up the press and high tempo. Teams have struggled to live with us when we have some for 45 minutes, just think how bad they will cope if we do it for 90. It's time to start sending out some messages across the league, we and the fear factor when playing against us is back. 

PREDICTION - Hamilton 0 - 4 Rangers

Thanks to the guy who came up in the Rolls Royce, to chat before the last game with Hearts. 

Remember the 28th minute applause on Sunday. 

Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan) 

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