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How long will Glasgow Rangers fans have to wait for title number 55?

Monday 3rd April 2017
Despite a bitterly disappointing season upon their return to Scottish football's top division, there is no doubt that sooner or later Rangers will be adding another league championship to their current tally of 54. It's inevitable.

Brendan Rodgers' Celtic have cantered unopposed to this season's title, but there won't be many who expect such dominance to continue for years to come.

Not since 1985 has the league trophy ventured outside of Glasgow – a 32-year period which has seen Rangers and Celtic crowned champions 17 and 15 times respectively.

And there is nothing to suggest this duopoly will be crushed anytime soon.

Indeed, a number of pundits have already suggested that the 2017/18 campaign is likely to be a foregone conclusion, with Celtic once again installed as firm favourites with the bookmakers. This viewpoint is due in no small part to the fact that Rangers seem destined to finish third this time around.

Before a ball was kicked in August, Rangers were 8/1 outsiders to finish top upon their return to the Scottish Premiership. The sheer unlikelihood of this occurrence was well reflected by the lengthy odds available – the longest price Rangers have been to win the title for more than 25 years.

As is often the case, Ladbrokes and co. had called it right.

At present, Pedro Caixinha's beleaguered side find themselves a frankly embarrassing 35 points behind their Parkhead rivals.

They have also failed to beat Celtic in any of their head-to-heads since triumphing on penalties in last season's Scottish Cup semi-final.

But there is a renewed wave of optimism at Ibrox following the departure of manager Mark Warburton.

Current incumbent Caixinha joined on a three-year deal last month, swapping little known Qatari outfit Al-Gharafa for Scotland's most decorated club.

It is now his job to reinstate Rangers at the summit and topple a buoyant Celtic who will be desperate not to relinquish the stranglehold they have enjoyed on Scottish football since 2012.

This will be no easy task, but even the most ardent Rangers fan would have to concede that this season was more about reacclimatising to the top division.

Aspirations of following up last season's Championship crown with instant Premiership success seemed ambitious, and so it has proved.

There is however little doubt that the Gers have the foundations necessary to drastically improve on what has unquestionably been a bit of an anticlimax.

The club's pull in Scottish football is both obvious and unrelenting. At the time of writing, combined attendances of all clubs in the division have increased by a staggering 33.8% following Rangers' promotion.

It should also be noted that Celtic's average attendance has shot up by almost 25% compared with last year, adding weight to the argument that Rangers' return should add a far greater degree of competition than was available in recent seasons.

The Hoops will again benefit from Champions League money and will hope to bolster their squad from the sort of financial payments their Glaswegian counterparts are now accustomed to missing out on.

However, history tells us that when a player enhances his reputation at one of the elite Scottish clubs, the lure of higher wages and the chance to play in a more prestigious league often proves too difficult to turn down.

Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk and Victor Wanyama are good examples of this, with all three swapping Celtic Park for Premiership also-rans Southampton between 2013 and 2015.

It is therefore quite possible that lightning might strike again – not least with young full-back Kieran Tierney now linked with Manchester United and Moussa Dembele's future constantly a topic of discussion.

Rangers meanwhile will be looking to build on what has ultimately been a campaign of consolidation.

Summer transfer business will be key. The previously unsuccessful acquisitions of Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Philippe Senderos were all gambles that have not paid off, while £1.5m signing Joe Garner has also struggled to make an impact since arriving from Preston North End.

The timing of Caixinha's appointment enables him to assess the squad at his disposal and experiment with a bit more freedom, given the remarkable chasm that currently exists between his team and first place.

Bears fans will quite rightly expect the gap between their club and Celtic to close next season and the players who remain now know exactly what they are up against.
Between 1965 and 1975, Rangers endured a ten-year title drought – the longest they have ever gone without domestic league success.

But despite Celtic sealing their sixth successive championship on Sunday following victory at Hearts, don't assume that such one-sided dominance will become a theme for the foreseeable future.

If Rangers address their shortcomings away from home and add some much-needed firepower to what statistics prove to be a fairly tame attack, there is no reason why things can't change for the better quite quickly.

Of course, this will be easier said than done.

Over the past five years, the club has overcome virtually every penalty and obstacle bestowed upon it since enforced demotion to the fourth tier.

Winning the Premiership title will be the final chapter of the comeback. Don't expect to wait too long for it to happen again.
James Smith

26-year-old football enthusiast and staunch advocate of all things gambling. Bluenose, for my sins. I have a passion for writing about football - particularly Rangers. My time is spent in London and Glasgow.

Total articles: 16

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