Glasgow Rangers are one of the most decorated clubs in world football with a phenomenal 115 major trophies lifted across their 147-year history. It’s been a while since they’ve tasted that level of success.
Sure, after the financial catastrophe that saw them rebirth in the fourth tier, they’ve enjoyed a few little wins along the way but nothing like what the fabulous supporters have become accustomed to. Now though, with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard at the helm things are looking very bright indeed. A first major trophy for the best part of a decade doesn’t look far away.
In the Premiership they’re neck and neck with the enemy, Celtic, at the top and the two Scottish heavyweights will go head to head in the League Cup final in just over a month’s time. Putting the rivalry aside, it’s blatant that Celtic’s squad has the ‘winning mentality’, which the Gers lack. It hasn’t always been that way though and here we look back at the 2010/11 League Cup – the last season in which Rangers won truly meaningful honours.
The Gers, then managed by Walter Smith, entered the competition at the third round stage and faced a Dunfermline side who had netted eight goals in the two prior rounds to qualify. Rangers turned in a ruthless display to swat aside the First Division leaders. Kyle Lafferty netted a hat-trick, Nikica Jelavic grabbed a brace – including an acrobatic overhead kick – and Madjid Bougherra and Steven Naismith also notched in a comprehensive 7-2 victory.
The next phase saw a trip to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock in what proved a somewhat tighter affair. Early on, Neil Alexander was beaten by a Liam Kelly header following a Craig Bryson cross, but the linesman’s flag ensured Rangers remained level and they got their noses in front shortly before the half hour mark with Andrew Little smashing home from 18 yards.
Alexander’s goal came under pressure but he was in fine form and then, at the other end, Naismith added a second to make it 0-2. The Gers went marching on.
The semi-final saw a tie against Motherwell and the result was in the balance for considerable periods throughout. Rangers took the lead on 20 thanks to a twinkle-toed Maurice Edu who beat two defenders and rifled a strike from distance beyond Darren Randolph.
Motherwell continued to ask questions of the Rangers backline despite the deficit and equalised with 66 minutes on the clock through Keith Lasley, who hit an angled drive across Alexander. Smith’s men retook the lead nine minutes later through Naismith and then had Alexander to thank for securing their final showdown with their arch nemesis.
By the time the final rolled around Celtic still maintained hopes of a domestic treble and the Hoops wanted an early penalty when Steven Davis and Sasa Papac closed the door on Mark Wilson like a couple of NFL Super Bowl linebackers. The appeals were waved away and although Celtic started the stronger, it was the blue half of Hampden Park that erupted first and to make matters worse for Celtic fans it was Davis who opened the scoring with a finish in off the woodwork.
Joe Ledley made it 1-1 just seven minutes later though and the game wouldn’t be settled until extra time. Jelavic was the man to claim the adoration of the Gera fan base with a 98th minute winner as he stole a march on the Celtic defence to turn home Vladimir Weiss’ promptly taken free kick. The trophy was emblazoned with the Rangers name once again.
There you have it, if you’re concerned that Celtic have the edge heading into December’s final, just remember that we have everything you need to be successful in our DNA – fight, resilience and togetherness. Besides, Rangers might still have a word to say in Europa League, currently in a position of going through the group stage after defeating Porto at the Ibrox. How far will the Gers go in Europa? We will be eager to see.