Rangers have won more major trophies than any club in the world – 107, for the record – but few droughts have been as long or as fraught as the nigh-on three years since they last won the Scottish Premier League, in 2005. So tomorrow, at Hampden Park, in the CIS Cup final against Dundee United, they not only get the chance to lift prize No 108 (to add to 51 League titles, 24 League cups, 31 Scottish Cups and a Cup Winners' Cup) but to rubber-stamp the "upturn" cited by their manager Walter Smith yesterday.
When Smith returned little more than a year ago, Rangers were already out of the running for everything. Now they have the opportunity to complete the first leg of what could be an unprecedented quadruple for the Ibrox side. They are favourites for the SPL and the Scottish Cup, and are in the last eight of the Uefa Cup.
"This is the first opportunity we get to show that we've had an upturn in terms of results and consistency," Smith said. "But you've come to the time of the season where you have to show you can turn that into trophies and this is the first chance. It's one we're all looking forward to."
Smith has multiple absences to cope with. Steven Naismith is cup-tied, Daniel Cousin injured, Nacho Novo and Charlie Adam both suspended, and Chris Burke doubtful with an ankle problem. But the strength in depth – by Scottish standards – should still allow him to field a strong side, mostly internationals, a majority Scottish.
In the League, Celtic, who dropped points at home in midweek to Dundee United, face a tricky lunchtime trip to Motherwell, hoping to get their title challenge back on track.
The future of the SPL's bottom club, Gretna, remains in doubt, but emergency short-term funding – understood to be a £100,000 advance of SPL cash due at the end of the season – means their trip to Aberdeen today goes ahead. The money will buy the club's administrator time to decide whether any of several proposed takeover bids are viable, or whether Gretna will fold.Reuse content