RANGERS fans celebrated wildly before James Tavernier and his team mates had so much as kicked a ball this weekend.

They rejoiced en masse as Celtic suffered a second successive cinch Premiership defeat at the hands of Hearts at Parkhead on Saturday.

But the Ibrox club’s players did not, even though the 2-0 loss their city rivals slumped to handed them the chance to go top of the league table, talk about either the result or the ramifications of it in the build-up to the Viaplay Cup final.

Connor Goldson, who helped Philippe Clement’s side to keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday, yesterday stressed that he and his fellow players were only concerned with the task which lay ahead of them as he looked back on the hard-fought victory.

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“We never thought about it at all,” he said. “I didn’t hear one person say anything about it on Sunday morning before the final. Don’t get me wrong, we all knew it had happened, but I didn’t hear anyone mention it.

“The focus was on Sunday. We were in the final of a different competition and we had to go and win that. I didn’t feel any extra pressure. The pressure was on ourselves going into a cup final we were the favourites for.The Herald: Rangers captain holds aloft the Viaplay Cup at Hampden last night

“We had to win for the group, for the fans, for the club. It was 18 months since we’d won a trophy and we have to deliver more for this football club.”

The centre half, though, is optimistic that Rangers can now tap into the feelgood factor which their first League Cup triumph in 12 long years has generated both in the dressing room and in the stands and go on and enjoy even more success in the 2023/24 campaign.

The Govan outfit, whose chances of prising the Scottish title from the grasp of the defending champions had appeared to be non-existent when they were trailing by seven points after seven matches, are now just five points behind the league leaders with two games in hand.

Goldson, who is now in his sixth season in Scotland, has previously won the Premiership, lifted the Scottish Cup and reached the Europa League final and has seen first hand what a positive impact good results can have on both morale and form.

The Englishman always felt that Rangers, whose former manager Michael Beale brought in no fewer than nine new signings during the summer, could recover from their disappointing start and is quietly confident they can go from strength to strength now that they have landed silverware.

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“I understand what it means to win at this club,” he said. “I told the new boys that at the start of the season when things weren‘t going well. I said, ‘If you lose at this club it’s one of the hardest places to play, but if you win at this club it’s one of the best places to play’.

“I’ve been through both and I understand what these days mean to everyone concerned. They don’t come along often and you have to enjoy them when they come.”

The Herald: Rangers players celebrate James Tavernier's goal against Aberdeen at in the Viaplay Cup final atGoldson added: “You never wrote the season off, it was really early. At the same time, we knew we were dropping too many points in the league. But look at the way it’s turned around.

“We have to keep the hunger, keep this group together and go on a run. If we go on a run we can have a really successful season.”

The 31-year-old dovetailed well with Leon Balogun once again on Sunday – but he has played alongside both Ben Davies and John Souttar in the heart of the Rangers defence this term and is happy whoever he is asked to partner.

He feels the options which Clement has in his position will be invaluable in the coming months as they attempt to add the Premiership and Scottish Cup to the trophy cabinet and progress in the Europa League. 

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“It doesn’t bother me who I play with,” he said. “It’s been the same for a number of years. We’ve got real competition in that back line. If you look at the group we’ve got John, an internationalist, Ben, who has played at the highest level, Leon, another international, and myself.

“So we’ve real depth in that area. We all know when we get the shirt we know we have to go out and perform because there’s people waiting behind us - who probably have the same ability - waiting to go out and perform if we don’t.

Goldson knows that his good friend Tavernier, who scored the winning and only goal in the Viaplay Cup final, will continue, barring illness, injury or suspension, to be selected at right back for Rangers regardless of who else in the squad can slot in to his berth.

“I’ve said many times, he won’t be appreciated until he leaves this club,” he said. “Yes, he gets criticised. He’s the captain of the team and when the team doesn’t do well the weight of that falls on his shoulders. But, at the same time, he’s got real balls, put it that way.

“He turns up every single game. Big moments belong to him whether it’s free-kicks, penalties or goals from open play. He delivers for this football club, and for a right-back to do what he does, not just this season but year in year out, is amazing.”

The Herald: