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Rangers Fall Early In Scottish Premier Race

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By Brian P. Dunleavy

We admit it seems odd to call the second matchday of the Premiership season a must-win for anyone, much less Rangers, one of the top flight’s “big two” with rivals Celtic.

However, such is the state of the league—and the remit for both Glasgow giants—in Scotland, where it’s win it all… or else.

There’s no glory in a “top four” or “top two” finish if you’re Celtic or Rangers. This isn’t the EPL. At Parkhead or Ibrox, you’re expected to win every week. And when you don’t, it’s a crisis.

So, manager Michael Beale, just starting his first full season in charge at ’Gers, is already facing an emergency as his side prepare to host Livingston. Yes, it’s early, but when you start the season with a 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock—and already sit three points behind your fiercest (and, really, only) rival—it’s never too soon to panic.

History Lesson

Ironically, Beale can take inspiration from Celtic’s recent history. Hoops supporters may gloss over Ange Postecoglou’s start in Glasgow’s East End, preferring instead to focus on his ultimate success, but he experienced growing pains as well.

In league play, the Aussie struggled, at least initially, losing at Hearts and at Rangers early on, with a largely new squad and new style of play. Sound familiar?

Beale has brought in nine new signings—many of them penciled into the starting XI—already this summer, with a few more likely on the way. Roughly the same number of players have headed the other way, including several stalwarts such as Alfredo Morelos, Scott Arfield, Alan McGregor, Ryan Kent, Antonio Colak and Fashion Sakala, just to name a few.

This type of transition takes time to take hold. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that. Still, with the media foaming at the mouth and supporters in Govan smelling blood, there’s a temptation to start the Beale sack-watch. That would be a mistake.

Celtic, too, are a team in transition with a new/old manager in Brendan Rodgers and no shortage of changes in the squad (the absences of Jota and Carl Starfelt will be felt). Rangers can and should easily dispatch with Livi, particularly at home. But if they don’t… oh boy

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