12 Nov Opinion: Where do Rangers need to strengthen?
By Craig Turnbull
A team that look destined to cruise to the title in the Scottish Championship has suddenly looked slightly more fallible.
The emphatic victories that Rangers were able to gather in a swashbuckling style have been replaced by less convincing displays.
This is in no small part down to teams becoming more accustomed to the way Rangers play, while it is also very difficult to maintain that level of standard set at the beginning of the campaign.
And it has conjured up questions about whether Rangers need to strengthen in January to stave off increasing pressure from in-form Hibernian.
This in the face of Rangers’ annual accounts which state a further £2.5 million is needed to keep the club going until the end of the season.
His recruits so far have performed on the park with varying degrees of success but it’s fair to say that Warburton has shown himself to be a shrewd operator.
So where does he need to strengthen?
James Tavernier and Lee Wallace have been a resounding success as full-backs but the centre-back partnership between Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson has looked at times vulnerable when coming up against better opposition.
A dominant and imposing figure in the middle of defence would help to bolster an area that seems to be lacking in leadership.
Wilson, who captained Hearts last season to the Championship title, was brought in to be that defender but so far has been a little disappointing and found himself on the bench recently as loan signing Dominic Ball, who has provided more stability next to Kiernan, has been preferred.
Rangers have options going forward in a midfield which is full of creativity and provides an attacking threat with Barrie McKay, Jason Holt, Gideon Zelalem (loan) and Nathan Oduwa (loan) dictating the play but there are shortcomings defensively in the middle of the park.
John Eustace has been training with the club all season but has yet to feature for the Light Blues. It would seem he is the ideal candidate to fill that role but there are question marks over his fitness. An experienced pro, who is strong in the challenge, can read the game and break up opposition play would help to fill the void.
One of the undoubted success stories of the Warburton era has been the capture of Martyn Waghorn. The 25-year-old has scored 17 goals in 19 games for the Ibrox men this season, however, if he were to suffer an injury they would have few alternative options up front.
Kenny Miller is now 35 and hasn’t scored in the league since August while Nicky Clark hasn’t been as prolific as fans might have hoped netting once in every four games. An additional centre forward with pace and strength would be a worthwhile investment.
The Championship looks like it could be decided on head to head between Hibs and Rangers.
However, a couple of signings from either side in January could be pivotal in deciding the destination of the title.