McGre­gor hurt­ing from fail­ure time can’t erase

Ibrox player of the year is still lick­ing his wounds but vows to right the wrongs with sec­ond chance

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - CHRIS JACK

THEIR sights are fo­cused on the fu­ture, but it is hard not to have a glance back over their shoul­ders.

The ap­point­ment of Mark War­bur­ton as man­ager, the ar­rivals of new play­ers and the re­turn to pre-sea­son train­ing are all rea­sons for Rangers to look for­ward to a cam­paign that surely can­not be any worse than the one they have just come through. But it is only by re­view­ing and learn­ing that they will en­sure there is no re­peat of the same mis­takes for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive time.

It was a sea­son that saw Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall re­moved from the dugout and Stu­art McCall’s side fin­ish third in the Cham­pi­onship be­fore the em­bar­rass­ing col­lapse against Mother­well in the play-off fi­nal. That af­ter­noon at Fir Park was the cul­mi­na­tion of a wretched few months for Rangers as they suf­fered many blows along the way be­fore be­ing hit with the knock-out punch.

There was a Petro­fac Train­ing Cup ca­pit­u­la­tion at Al­loa, a Wil­liam Hill Scot­tish Cup de­feat at home to Raith Rovers and more be­low par Cham­pi­onship show­ings than sup­port­ers care to re­mem­ber.

Dar­ren McGre­gor has not for­got­ten them all and time has not healed the wounds for the de­fender. Un­like the hand­ful of play­ers who were re­leased from their con­tracts last month, McGre­gor has a sec­ond chance at Ibrox, an op­por­tu­nity to right the wrongs as War­bur­ton looks to trans­form Rangers’ for­tunes.

“It’s a tough one,” McGre­gor said as he re­flected on a cam­paign that also saw him win Rangers’ player of the year prize in his first sea­son at the club. “I’ve thought about it and won­dered why we fin­ished so far off Hearts. Was it lack of qual­ity? Lis­ten, ev­ery­one has their opin­ion about play­ers get­ting to a cer­tain age – and I’m get­ting on my­self – but I think it was go­ing away and not pick­ing up points against teams you would ex­pect us to beat.

“Whether or not it was com­pla­cency it’s dif­fi­cult to say but those were points we should have won but we didn’t.

“That’s no dis­re­spect to Al­loa, to Liv­ingston, fair play to them for tak­ing points off us, but as a group of play­ers we un­der­achieved.

“That’s a per­sonal opin­ion but I know the boys feel that way as well. But we are look­ing to right the wrongs of last sea­son and hope­fully with the new man­ager and new play­ers com­ing in we can do that.”

There may be a new man at the helm and more new faces on the way at Ibrox but the chal­lenge next sea­son will be a fa­mil­iar one for McGre­gor.

Rangers will once again make trips to Al­loa and Liv­ingston and bat­tle it out with Hiber­nian for pro­mo­tion as they bid to make it sec­ond time lucky. Danny Wil­son is another player who knows what to ex­pect in the Cham­pi­onship fol­low­ing his suc­cess with Hearts last sea­son but the learn­ing curve will be steep for Rob Kier­nan and any­one else who signs up this sum­mer.

“A lot of guys com­ing here will know Rangers are a big club, an in­sti­tu­tion,” McGre­gor said.

“But it’s for us guys, know­ing we have failed – and we have to ad­mit that to our­selves that we failed – to make sure that the new guys and the younger lads com­ing through know there can’t be any slip-ups this sea­son. We can’t af­ford any.

“It’s a big sea­son and we need to show our worth. The boys who are still here from last sea­son have a point to prove and we all know that.” To­day is the dead­line for Rangers fans to re­new sea­son tick­ets for the 2015/16 Cham­pi­onship cam­paign. Visit www.rangers.co.uk, call 0871 702 1972 or visit the Rangers Ticket Cen­tre.

Pic­ture: SNS

DUGOUT BLUES: Dar­ren McGre­gor has pon­dered long and hard why Rangers fin­ished so far be­hind Hearts last sea­son.

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