Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
If last weekend’s agonising 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dundee United taught Rangers fans anything, it’s that their hopes of romping home to a second consecutive Scottish Premiership title may have been prematurely misplaced.
Of course, one defeat isn’t going to decide the battle for this season’s top spot, but that slip-up combined with Celtic’s 6-0 rout against Dundee was enough to remind the Gers that they might not have it all their own way this term.
On balance, it’s hard to argue against the strength in depth of Steven Gerrard’s squad, but will this fresh hiccup tempt him into dipping his toe into the transfer market one last time this summer?
We’ve taken a look at some of the key areas that Rangers could look to target before the window closes…
Steven Gerrard loves a 4-3-3, and there’s not denying the deluge of attacking talent he has to spearhead that formation for him.
For the most part, however, the Gers’ talent is – numerically at least – concentrated through the middle.
Whereas he can boast Alfredo Morelos, Kemar Roofe, Fashion Sakala, Cedric Itten, and Jermain Defoe as central striking options, Gerrard has just Ryan Kent, Scott Wright, Brandon Barker, and Ianis Hagi to pick from out on the flanks, with Joe Aribo filling in on occasion too.
There’s no doubting that there is quality in that quartet, but it’s not spread particularly evenly, and Barker in particular could prove to be a potential weak link. Let’s not forget that last season he was deemed surplus to requirements enough to be shipped out on loan to Oxford United.
Another wide man, particularly somebody who can operate down the right, could be a smart addition.
With Gerrard predominantly opting to play Hagi and Joe Aribo out wide so far this term, it does leave Rangers looking a tad light in terms of out and out creative options in the centre of the park.
Steven Davis is obviously the man to pull the strings, but he’s no spring chicken and at some point the Gers are going to have to think about managing the 36-year-old’s game time to ensure that they keep getting the best out of him.
Granted, it might not be this season, but at some point the Northern Irishman is going to have to wind down, and having a young, hungry heir apparent waiting in the wings at Ibrox can only be a good thing.
This is certainly not the most pressing priority given Scott Arfield’s presence in the squad, but it’s something to consider.
In Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin, Rangers have two of the best goalkeepers in Scottish football on their books.
For that reason alone, suggesting that they might need to bring in another stopper this summer could, justifiably, be classed as lunacy – but hear us out…
Much like the Davis situation, both players are approaching the twilight of their careers – especially McGregor, who turns 40 in the new year.
If Gerrard wants to build a real dynasty at Ibrox – and there’s been nothing so far to suggest that he doesn’t – then he needs to keep one eye on the future, so why not look to bring in a keeper who might not challenge for the number one spot right now, but who could be up to scratch in a season or two? We’re already seeing a similar tactic working to great effect with Calvin Bassey at left-back. Rangers could even send their bright young thing out on loan to gain some vital experience.
For a long time it looked as if Robby McCrorie would be the one to pick up McGregor’s mantle in years to come, but at the time of writing, he appears to be seen as more of a reserve talent than a first team contender.
Similarly, Andy Firth looks destined for a role as a perennial third choice.
Make no mistake, bringing in a new stopper is by no means a priority, but it could be a nice little sweetener in a window which has already delivered quite a bit of success.