IN a perfect world, a manager who has just overseen a major overhaul of his squad would be allowed time to integrate his signings into his side and receive forgiveness for any slip-ups which occur early in a new season.

Those, though, are not luxuries which Michael Beale, who has brought no fewer than nine new players in to Rangers in recent weeks, has at Ibrox.  

His team had to deliver a massive result in the second leg of their Champions League third qualifying round double header against Servette in Switzerland tonight despite it being just their fourth game together.

Reaching the play-off round was worth a cool £5m – a significant sum to a club which has wrestled with serious financial difficulties and struggled to break even in recent years.

Could James Tavernier and his team mates, as the mercury touched 30 degrees inside the Stade de Geneve, keep their cool and prevent the heat on Beale from mounting?

READ MORERangers player ratings: Danilo flops as Tavernier saves the day

They rose to the occasion on a demanding and often nerve-wracking evening and went some way towards silencing their detractors.

A narrow opening day cinch Premiership defeat to Kilmarnock on the artificial surface at Rugby Park was, with their city rivals Celtic already having wrapped up three points earlier, badly received by their notoriously demanding supporters.

Even the subsequent wins over Servette and Livingston at home last week had not convinced fans of the Glasgow outfit that the players who had been brought in during the close season were of a sufficient standard.

Or, for that matter, that the current occupant of the dugout has the experience and wherewithal to land domestic silverware and make progress on the continent.

The Herald:

But this new-look Rangers team suggested they have the mental strength, tactical nous and technical ability needed to enjoy a decent season at home and abroad by coming from behind, earning a 1-1 draw and prevailing 3-2 on aggregate.

A further improvement will certainly be required to overcome PSV Eindhoven, who beat Sturm Graz 3-1 in Austria to win 7-2 overall, in the play-off and reach the competition proper for the second season running. They continue to be a work in progress. But they can go into the meetings with the Dutch giants with increased confidence after this encouraging performance.

Beale made three changes to the starting line-up which took to the field in the cinch Premiership match against Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday; Connor Goldson, Ryan Jack and Abdallah Sima came in to the visitors’ defence, midfield and attack as Leon Balogun, Sam Lammers and Cyriel Dessers dropped out.

READ MOREThree burning issues as Rangers edge past Servette

It was a more defensive side than the one which had been deployed in the first leg six days earlier – but the man responsible for selecting it emphasised that he did not want his charges to sit back and protect their slender lead.

“We start at 0-0 again and try to win this game,” he said in an interview with the BBC beforehand. “We take each half in isolation – we try to win the first-half, we reassess at half-time and we go again. We have picked a strong team for tonight’s game and our focus and concentration needs to be at its maximum.”

Sure enough, Rangers went on the offensive straight away. They were, however, unable to engineer an opening in the final third. They had soon paid a high price for that lack of a cutting edge up front.    

Getting an away result in Europe is never straightforward regardless of the level of the opposition. But it is fair to say that Rangers were getting Servette at a good time. Their hosts had won just one of the seven matches they had played in the 2023/24 campaign over 90 minutes.

That said, they had edged out Genk of Belgium on penalties in the previous round and had the first sell-out crowd inside their 30,000 capacity ground in 20 long years roaring them on. They showed what a dangerous team they were in the eighth minute when they cut open their opponents’ rearguard.

Timothe Cognat ghosted in between right back Tavernier centre half Goldson and would have levelled the tie had it not been for Jack Butland. The goalkeeper correctly anticipated the midfielder would shoot to his right, got down quickly and denied the effort with his fingertips. He was perfectly positioned to deny Dereck Kutesa before half-time as well.

The Herald:

Butland has a difficult task replacing Allan McGregor in between the sticks – his predecessor is widely and correctly considered to be one of the outstanding players in his position in the entire history of Rangers.

However, the former Birmingham City, Stoke City, Leeds United, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and England man has impressed onlookers with his personal displays since moving to this country. He has been the pick of the summer acquisitions so far.

READ MORERangers learn Champions League play-off opponent after Servette win

He could do absolutely nothing about the shot that Kutesa curled in to the top right corner of his net during the first-half. The winger was given far too much time and space inside his area after being supplied by Jeremy Guillemenot.

Butland’s excellence was not matched by many of his outfield team mates in the first-half. Todd Cantwell was once again the brightest performer by far. Cifunetes, Danilo and Sima all struggled to impose themselves on proceedings.

Cifuentes was probably the most influential of the trio. He picked out Danilo with a fine cross after Rangers had fallen behind. The striker just had to get his shot on target. He somehow contrived to produce a miss which would have made Peter van Vossen blush. Great things are expected of the Brazilian. But the £6m forward has to up his game quickly.

Things were looking ominous for the Scottish side as they headed up the tunnel at the end of the opening 45 minutes. Whatever their manager said and tweaked in the dressing room worked wonders. Borna Barisic and Tavernier combined brilliantly just six minutes into the second-half to restore their advantage. Butland was relatively untroubled thereafter.

Beale made a double substitution before an hour had elapsed. Danilo and Sima were removed to Lammers and Dessers handed the chance to show what they were capable of. Could they fare any better than their fellow new arrivals? Dessers could have wrapped things up in the closing stages. But he hit the post. Lammers got an effort on target in injury-time.

The pair helped Rangers to withstand a late Servette onslaught and see out a hard-fought but richly-deserved triumph which has given their followers hope for the future.