What a week for Rangers!

The historic victory over Braga after a feel-good victory against St Mirren had been the perfect build-up to Sunday’s Old Firm Hampden fixture. However, after the massive highs and 120 gruelling European minutes, heading to Mount Florida, my only hope was we put in the effort to make the fans proud. Yes, I acknowledge it’s easy to say that now but even at the end of the ninety minutes I posted on social media my pride at the effort the players had given us.

There is absolutely no point sitting here saying Celtic aren’t a good side because they have produced a level of consistency that shows they are. It was always going to be a big challenge. This Rangers team are capable though and I have underlined consistently all year that we are champions for a reason. We had to show our class but the efforts of our European campaign were weighing heavy.

What we got was a level of effort, grit and determination that it's hard to say we've seen in four years domestically under this group. Now that’s a big call but for the first time they managed to produce big in a cup competition when it was really needed. Sure we got our luck and as Celtic smashed the bar in the second half. Had that happened we might have fallen away but we didn’t and we left with something truly to be proud of.

It was another gruelling 120 minutes but they gave us everything. I’m not going to praise everyone because I believe collectively we did not have a failure but there is certainly a few big shouts that need to be recognised.

First of all the manager. I have asked questions of the manager after a domestic season that has fallen off the rails. I have offered praise where it’s been due, especially European form and some big tactical calls. But at same time a twelve-point domestic swing has rightly brought criticism as well as some performances where the team has looked well short on ideas.

I also pointed out that a Hampden defeat would have left him with three straight Old Firm defeats and heading to Parkhead in just over a week. That’s difficult for any manager to overcome so this was huge for him. He went with the same outfield players as Thursday which was a big call but he managed the substitutions perfectly and got the reaction from all of them.

One of the biggest questions recently has been whether these players are playing for the manager but the last two games has shown this is now not even a legitimate question. Furthermore and this is absolutely massive, he’s bought himself some trust and time. Of course, he has to now go on and deliver the Scottish Cup at a minimum but he has given himself an opportunity to build a platform. The cup doesn’t correct what's happened in the league but it does show Giovanni has the ability to get big results.

Tactically he has made some big calls and the decision to use Calvin Bassey in an advanced man-marking role on Tom Rogic was a stroke of genuine genius. Celtic were stopped in their tracks immediately and the wave of pressure never really came, the fact we outpaced them in terms of fitness is a huge marker laid down by our squad. Gio got it spot on.

The big call of the day came in goals but the reality was it wasn’t a huge decision at all. Jon McLaughlin produced a performance of calming authority. In a season where cross balls have troubled us at every turn, McLaughlin commanded everything before him. In fact, he made it look almost simple. Many will have read and heard my views on this and some will say it's easy in hindsight, but the truth is for several months I have been saying that McLaughlin is the more suitable goalkeeper for what we need.

Is he better shot-stopping wise or capable of that moment of magic like McGregor? Doubtful, but in reality not many are. He is better commanding his box, better on the ball and therefore a calming influence on a defence that has struggled to deal with aerial attacks. He’s everything that we need.

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It goes without saying how good McGregor has been but I’d argue the league would look a lot different if Giovanni had made that switch three months ago. As I said at the time, Ross County away at the end of January should have been the catalyst for change in the goalkeeping department. It’s an argument that is at very least worth exploring.

Gio now has an even bigger decision because that’s the best Rangers have looked defensively against Celtic since he came in. In fact, this season both McLaughlin and McCrorie have steered Rangers to victory. Allan McGregor has made big errors in both games and yet to taste anything but defeat. Dropping out at this stage would be harsh on Allan but the reality is we must do what’s best for our team, it won’t change the legacy or the argument that he may just be the best we have ever had. But it may just be the difference in the coming weeks and it’s a decision that Giovanni must now make. In many ways it’s similar to what happened with a misfiring legend in Dirk Kuyt at Feyenoord. Jon McLaughlin finishes the season as Rangers number one for me and he cements the position ahead of the new season.

The summer overhaul is coming and there's no doubt that this squad has proven how capable it is. There is the possibility of an amazing end to this season which would be a fitting legacy to a group that delivered 55 so emphatically.

It’s a legacy they deserve to build on and one that would put them into the realms of genuine club immortality. Europe is there for the taking. Yes, Leipzig are a massive hurdle and actually delivering progression will be a huge task but we at very least have a puncher's chance.

The ecstasy of Sunday’s Hampden heroics could just be the beginning of a feel-good end of season that this squad deserve. We will return to Hampden for a huge challenge against a very capable Hearts side and we will head to Germany in less than a week for a massive date with destiny in the Europa League.

For all the criticism this squad has been given for the league collapse they have the chance to gain that legacy I continue to scribble they deserve.

This last week has been glorious but the bar is set. This is what it takes at Rangers and these are the levels we must hit to try and achieve anything as the season gets to its crescendo.

We said April might be everything we wanted - well they have turned it into something that might bring us joy beyond all joy.

Finish strong and we might have something that we can cherish forever. At the very least this squad will finish the season with an opportunity of something shiny, something to add to the legacy of 55.

If we get the efforts of the last week we won’t be far away. Well done Gio and all the team.