Wilson feels same pressure to succeed in second Ibrox calling
Pressure is still there to win silverware at the club and players are taking all competitions very seriously
WHEN Danny Wilson was with Rangers previously he played in the Champions League and won the Premier League and League Cup. He was also an unused substitute when they won the Scottish Cup. He has returned to the club this season where the most immediate goals are trying to win the second-tier Ladbrokes Championship and the Petrofac Training Cup. The contrast is fairly evident.
What hasn’t altered second time around, however, is the pressure to win every game. The prizes may be rather less glamorous but that does not change the mindset. Saturday’s 4-0 victory over St Mirren sets up a Petrofac final against League One Peterhead in April and if lifting that trophy will not go down as one of the Ibrox club’s most notable achievements then they will celebrate it just as exuberantly regardless.
Chairman Dave King spoke grandly at the Rangers AGM on Friday of bringing in players of European calibre and creating a team capable of challenging with Celtic in the top division. If those seem lofty plans then it is not something the current crop of players have given much thought to. Their goals remain short-term ones. Beating Dumbarton tomorrow night would put them three points clear of Hibernian at the top of the Championship and it is that trophy, and then their final date with Peterhead, that remain prominent in Wilson’s mind.
“In football, you can’t pick and choose the trophies you win,” said the former Hearts defender. “We’re in the Petrofac Cup final so it’s up to us to show the right mentality now to go out and win it. We’ve not taken any of the games lightly so far. We now have one more hurdle to get over to lift the trophy, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.
“Obviously, there are certain longterm aims at the club. But our priority right now is just to focus on the short term and what’s ahead of us, which means trying to be as successful as we can. Winning is a good habit and we just want to continue in the current vein.
“We’re all fully aware of what’s expected at the club. Maybe the players who have come in have not been under as much scrutiny at other clubs, but they learn quickly and embrace it. We know ourselves if we have come off a performance that hasn’t been quite up to scratch. We’re all hard on ourselves in the right way and that can only be good for us.”
Having the second-highest wage bill in the country brings certain expectations but Wilson pointed out success has to be earned rather than gifted.
“People will always say, ‘Rangers should be top of the Championship’ or ‘Rangers should be in the final of the Petrofac’. So we are in a no-win situation, but that’s just something that we need to accept and show the right mentality to deal with it and get our heads round it.
“But it’s not as easy as just turning up every week and having it handed to you. Teams are going to make it difficult for us. If I was turning up to play against Rangers I wouldn’t just roll over and accept defeat. But credit to us because I think, by and large, we have shown the right mindset to deal with that and focus on ourselves and getting good results this season.
“The criticism that has come our way has been a little bit over the top because in the games we hadn’t won, we didn’t play badly, it was just the result didn’t go our way. But it’s a results business and we are expected to win. The pressure’s higher because of the league that we are in and that’s something we are going to have to deal with.”
If Wilson can look to the future with a degree of optimism, the same could not be said of St Mirren. Lucky on Saturday to be only one down at half time to Jason Holt’s strike, they had a brief spell of pressure early in the second half before conceding three more times to Kenny Miller, Martyn Waghorn and an unfortunate Sean Kelly own goal.
It was the latest defeat in what is turning out to be another fairly disastrous campaign but Cal Gallagher, the one-time Rangers forward, did his best to defend his team’s record. It was always going to be a transitional season for St Mirren,” he said. “The team’s gone down and there’s a lot of stuff in the background that the players haven’t been exposed to, like finances. That’s meant a need to turn to a lot of younger, not quite so experienced players.
“They’ve had to step up and it was always going to take time for the team to gel and the young players to develop into men on the park. I think a lot of the younger players are giving a good account of themselves most weeks.
“But if you ask any kind of experienced manager, or anyone who has watched a lot of football, they will tell you consistency can be an issue with younger players. And when you are relying on them a lot it can be tough. You need a bit of patience.”
We’ve not taken any of the games lightly so far. We now have one more hurdle to get over to lift the trophy, but it’s one we’re looking forward to
DETERMINED: Danny WIlson holds off St Mirren’s Lewis McLear as they battle for the ball during Rangers 4-0 win in the Petrofac Training Cup semi-final