It’s fair to say Rangers fans are fairly pleased with the start to life under Steven Gerrard. The squad is night and day from that which Mark Warburton led into their first season back in Scotland’s top flight. Let’s look at where five players from that squad currently find themselves.
There was quite some promise in that Rangers team, or so was thought. That thought came crumbling down almost as soon the final whistle blew on an opening day 1-1 draw with Hamilton Accies. If not then, it was probably after the whole Joey Barton fiasco and a thrashing at the hands of Celtic that Rangers supporters realised they wouldn’t catch up with their rivals all that quickly.
With what seems like a promising and exciting project well under way at Ibrox this term, casting back three seasons and the playing squad looked fairly different. Just five current first teams player are retained under Gerrard, so it seems a good number of players to look into from the squad Warburton began with.
Beginning with Danny Wilson, the 25 year old that certainly has an interesting story.
Once one of Scotland’s biggest prospects, a failed move to Liverpool saw Wilson looking to rebuild his career back north of the border.
Following playing for, and captaining, then Championship rivals Hearts, Wilson exercised a release clause in his contract to allow a return to Ibrox. After helping his boyhood club to promotion, it appeared Wilson would play a crucial part in Rangers return to glory, making 25 appearances in 16/17.
Wilson’s found himself on a reduced role last season when Pedro Caixinha looked to overhaul the playing staff. With his Rangers days looking numbered, Wilson made what is becoming an ever more common move for Scottish players. The five time Scotland cap joined Colorado Rapids in the MLS this January. He has since made 23 appearances in Major League Soccer.
Forrester was still an option when Steven Gerrard arrived in the summer – albeit not a likely one, having spent the previous season on loan with AFC Wimbledon.
Formerly of Aston Villa, Brentford and Doncaster among others (including a 2010 loan spell with Kilmarnock) Forrester also arrived in Rangers Championship winning season – signing half way through and contributing four goals and four assists in just 11 games.
An assist and two goals in his first three Premiership games might have provided the illusion that Forrester was capable of the step up to Premiership level. Unfortunately just one of each followed over the course of the rest of the season and following Caixinha’s arrival, the Englishman was essentially frozen out.
A mixed spell at Wimbledon this past season wasn’t enough to convince the League One side to make the move permanent. Steven Gerrard allowed Forrester to leave and he made the slightly obscure choice to join Antony Stokes in moving to Iran with John Toshack’s Tractor Sazi.
Just two appearances in, Forrester has joined Tractor’s city neighbours Mashin Sazi on loan. What an odd career timeline – which appears like it will only get more complicated.
At just 23, Jon Toral has certainly racked up a few clubs (Mostly on loan). Although he’s probably not totalled as many air mile as well travelled Harry.
Having spent time as a teenager at both Barcelona and Arsenal, Toral was tipped for some big things. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, his career hasn’t quite taken the same trajectory as Cesc Fabergas.
Joining half way through the 16/17 season, in the January transfer window. Still a signing of Warburton, Toral spent far less time under the former Brentford manager than the other’s on this list. Warburton was of course sacked on February tenth.
Toral’s loan spell wasn’t a disaster but it also wasn’t a roaring success either. Three goals across 15 appearances for the midfielder – who’d previously had a spell under Warburton at Brentford, as well as other loans with Birmingham and Granada – wasn’t enough to earn Toral a return to Ibrox the following summer.
Toral did secure a permanent move from the Emirates however, joining Championship side Hull. Hull’s struggles haven’t helped but 23 year old hasn’t even nearly lived up to his potential.
At just 24, centre back Rob Kiernan made Rangers his 12th club.
Most of those clubs had been via loan (Including a spell with Kilmarnock) but it was clear Kiernan had struggled to hold down a starting spot anywhere. After helping the Gers back into the Premiership, it was clear among many supporters that Kiernan was unlikely to stay for the long run.
Despite gaining promotion, Kiernan and his centre back partner Danny Wilson were often criticised, especially after the Scottish Cup final loss to Hibernian. It was expected by many that Kiernan may not be capable of making the step up.
The Irishman managed 24 league appearances in the 16/17 Premiership season as all three managers who took charge struggled to decide on a regular centre half pairing. Kiernan, Wilson and veteran Clint Hill were all rotated between.
The summer following Ranger’s return to the Premiership, as Pedro Caixinha made wholesale changes, Kiernan too was ruled surplus to requirements. Kiernan made a return to English football, joining Southend for an undisclosed fee.
It’s been a bit of a nightmare for Kiernan since the move.
A serious knee injury on his debut ruled Kiernan out for the rest of his first season at Roots Hall. He’s yet to make his return to football, and is still awaiting a second appearance for his new club.
You just knew he’d be in here, maybe it’s a little false to include him since he didn’t even nearly last the season, but we will do so anyway.
If you thought some of the other players on this list have an interesting career timeline, Joey Barton blows it out of the water. Gambling bans, a prison stint and playing for QPR, I’m not sure what the low point of a very interesting career would be.
Nonetheless, Barton signed a two year deal at Ibrox following helping Burnley to promotion to the English Premiership and being named in the Championship team of the season.
Of course the one time England international made all sorts of promises upon his arrival in Scotland. That didn’t work out all too well.
Five league appearances, an old firm skelping and a massive row later, Barton was on his way out of Scotland back to Burnley.
It was all going quite well for the former Manchester City player back at Turf Moor, until his suspension for gambling that is.
Barton decided to call it a day and go after a career in management. This summer Joey took on his first role with English League One club Fleetwood town. It’s not been a bad start either, with Fleetwood currently sitting three points outside the playoff spots.
Okay, now we are finished giving Mr Barton a hard time, that’s our list. Any Rangers supporter will tell you to get to this point under Stevie G, they’ve had to watch a few diddy’s “grace” the famous Ibrox turf. Who do you think is the most infamous?