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Will new-look Rangers challenge?

Frank Monkhouse | 28 June 2017

Bears a big price to win the Premiership

The 2017/18 Scottish Premiership fixtures have been released, with champions Celtic at home to Hearts on the weekend of 5th and 6th of August, while Rangers travel to Motherwell and last season’s runners up Aberdeen meet Hamilton.

Coral traders have set their prices for the campaign ahead, and it’s likely to be more of the same, in their view, with The Bhoys chalked up as 1/8 favourites. Is there any point in the other teams turning up? That price does pave the way for some cracking value if you fancy an upset.

Pedro’s overhaul is near completion

It has been a summer of change at Ibrox as Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha wields the axe, cutting out the deadwood left behind by previous boss Mark Warburton. A number of last season’s regular faces have been told they have no future in Govan, including Andy Halliday, Harry Forrester, Joe Dodoo and Rob Kiernan. Joe Garner has already been flogged.

The gaffer and his team have been working tirelessly to reshape the squad, promising to bring in up to 11 new faces, and have already made a dent in that, signing the likes of Bruno Alves, Ryan Jack, Eduardo Herrera, Carlos Pena and Alfredo Morelos. Will we see an improvement on the side that rolled over and played dead last year?

Fans hoping the glory days return

Fans will get their first glimpse of the future when facing Progres Niedercorn in the first round of the Europa League, and the Rangers support have been phenomenal, selling out the stadium as European football returns. It has been a difficult few years for followers, but they’ll be hoping that match represents the start of a return to the glory days.

A strong showing in Europe would be fantastic for everyone involved, but number one priority must be to compete in the Premiership, close the gap on Celtic, and take points off their rivals in the Old Firm derbies. There will, of course, be dyed-in-wool supporters who believe Rangers will win the league this season, but the majority would be happy for an improved effort on last term, and to, at least, make a nuisance of themselves. Second place is a must. They’ll want to be entertained on a weekly basis and they’ll want to see goals scored, something that was in short supply under Warburton.

Rangers new recruits in for a shock

Coral traders don’t fancy it however, and have knocked Rangers up at a chunky 7/1 to win the title. During August, they face away ties vs Motherwell and Ross County, while hosting Hibs and Hearts. A set of fixtures that could see them take maximum points, but it won’t be easy.

Hibs and Hearts at Ibrox will be big occasions, and the new faces in the dressing room could be caught in the headlights, with passions from the stands boiling over. Both winnable matches, but there can be no settling in period for Caixinha’s troops. Then there’s the road trips, from the likes of Mexico and Portugal to what passes for a summer in Motherwell and the Scottish highlands. That’ll certainly open the eyes to what lies ahead.

Keep us close for all the Scottish summer news and transfer rumours