Can Rangers Win the SPL Next Year?

02/05/2016 17:31

Poor Ronny Deila. It has got to the stage where if he wanted to make an impression on continental Europe while simultaneously dominating the domestic scene and pleasing the fans, he would have been better staying at Stromsgodset.

Instead, for the heinous crime of winning the Scottish Premier League - or more for the actually heinous crime of losing to Rangers while they are in the division below - he will leave Celtic at the end of the season, and it is hard to imagine him finding another managerial job outside of Scandanavia any time soon.

That defeat however, combined with how convincingly Celtic's main rivals won the title this season, does raise an interesting question for Scottish football - can Rangers win the title next season, straight after promotion from the Championship?

This season, a benchmark has been set by Hearts, who have reached the Europa League for next campaign having won the second tier last year.

In the rest of the league, the face of the Premier League has been changed by teams coming up from the second division and supplanting the better known faces: Ross County, for years bouncing between tiers two and three, will finish in this year's top six; Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who had a poor season this time but who have qualified for Europe recently.

While after four years an SPL without Rangers has begun to look a little more normal, their return should not, really, require any settling in period, they should be able to emulate the sides mentioned above.

They also come in with a manager pragmatic enough to engineer success based on logic and skill rather than base passion or sentiment. The struggle and eventual failure of last season under three different managers has been replaced by the side steamrollering their way to the title under Mark Warburton, a man who, if he can get Brentford to the English Championship play-offs, is surely capable of engineering a Rangers side that can finish above Partick Thistle and Hamilton Academicals.

They have the players for the job too. To compare to Hearts again, the Edinburgh side is full of foreign imports, thrown into the Scottish game to good success. Rangers meanwhile are built around experience of the SPL, with players like Lee Wallace, Kenny Miller, Andy Halliday and Dean Shiels.

With the exception of American Arsenal loanee Gedion Zelalem, all of the Rangers team hail from Britain and Ireland. Compare this to a Hearts team drawn from Poland, Turkey, Ghana, Morocco and Canada, among others.

With Celtic reeling from a disappointing season by their standards, perhaps bloated by the ease of what will soon be five straight titles with only passing competition, and the Rangers fans backing them up, I would say Warburton's boys are not only a possibility for the title next year, they really should be right in the hunt.

Not that Ronny Deila will care. There are only so many jobs in the football world where you can win the title in both your seasons and still be judged a failure, and he picked one of them.