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

Picture: SNS

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

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