Rangers left-back Borna Barisic believes Michael Beale’s biggest impact has been instilling a winning mentality which he feels puts them in good shape for Sunday’s Viaplay Cup final.
Rangers have won 13 games and drawn the other – against Celtic – since Beale took over during the World Cup break.
Celtic have an identical record during that time so the nine-point cinch Premiership deficit Beale inherited from Giovanni van Bronckhorst remains intact.
But something has to give on Sunday at Hampden when the first trophy of the season is handed out and Barisic has no doubt that his side go into the game with every chance.
The Croatia international said: “Our recent games, how we have played since Michael Beale came to the club, that gives us a lot of confidence. We are in very good form, very good shape, that gives us confidence.
“It started from a lot of things. He changed the system, he has been here before, he knows how some players like to play, which position, which style.
“Also we have raised standards in training, which came into games. We can present what we trained at the game.
“He changed a lot of things and I think he changed them in a very good way, and results show that and the way we play also is much better.”
Above all else, Barisic feels the type of mentality needed to win trophies has improved.
“That’s the one thing we have changed in the last two or three months,” he said.
“I’m not saying we didn’t want to win before but the way we train, the way we think, the way we talk, has changed.
“We are in a good way in terms of the mentality of winning something.”
Rangers have yet to win this trophy since emerging from the liquidation crisis of 2012. Barisic has experienced a quarter-final loss against St Mirren and a semi-final defeat by Hibernian, and was absent from another one against Aberdeen.
The closest he and his team-mates came was the 2019-20 final when they lost 1-0 against 10-man Celtic after missing a series of chances.
“I didn’t personally forget that,” he said. “I remember the way we played and how we lost that game.
“Of course that’s one of the motivations but it’s not the only one – there are a lot more things to motivate me.
“Of course when you have been with a group of players for such a long time you have a good relationship and experience of playing in big games is very important.
“But every game is a game in itself and we will see what happens. It will be hard but we are ready and we have confidence.”
Rangers overcame Celtic at Hampden last season in the Scottish Cup semi-finals but Barisic did not get to feature in the final against Hearts after picking up an injury in the Europa League final days earlier.
“It was hard, I was injured and to watch the boys in the final from the stands, you cannot help,” the 30-year-old said.
“It was hard but at the end I was very happy because we won. It was a good day.
“I don’t want to look too much in the past but I remember the way we won the game and how we celebrated afterwards and of course I want to be part of it.”