THE significance of Rangers’ win over Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday was not lost to any of the home supporters in the 49,688 crowd.

The roar which went up around the stadium when referee John Beaton blew his final whistle showed they were well aware of the implications of the 3-0 rout.

If Philippe Clement’s team beat Aberdeen - who are poised to appoint Neil Warnock as interim manager until the end of the season - in Govan tomorrow evening they will move level on points with Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership table.

If the margin of victory is three or more they will edge ahead of their city rivals on goal difference for the first time in the 2023/24 campaign.

Yet, James Tavernier and his team mates are, in stark contrast to those who cheer them on from the stands on match days, oblivious to their league position.

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“I wasn’t actually aware of that,” said Rangers playmaker Todd Cantwell when he was told what the weekend results meant in the Scottish title race in the immediate aftermath of the Livingston triumph.

Clement has repeatedly stressed that he does not care about how close his charges are to the defending champions since replacing Michael Beale as manager back in October because he is concentrating solely on performances. That attitude has clearly rubbed off on his squad members.      

“The message inside is we are tunnel vision at the minute,” said Cantwell. “I think it is important to be. We were in a position where we were chasing and I think the most important thing when you are chasing is just to have tunnel vision. Don’t look around, you don’t need to know what is going on elsewhere, do what you can do and be in control of what you can be in control of.

“One hundred per cent, this fanbase deserve to be excited about things, they deserve to be fighting for every trophy that we are involved in, even the European one. We deserve to be excited about it because we are a good team, we have got good players. You know what football’s like, you can win anything, it is possible to do so. The fans deserve to be excited for that.

The Herald: “But I think as players you are professional for a reason. There is a lot of football left to play. We knew that when the manager came in. Listen, we are going to keep doing what we are doing and let’s see where we end up.

“It is for the fans to be excited about. We are obviously excited about it, we know what we want to do, we know what we set out to do at the start of the season. It didn’t start great for us, but I have said all along and I have heard other players say it, it is a long season. In that sense, what happens elsewhere is out of our control.”

Focusing on his own form has paid dividends for Cantwell. He has got back to something approaching his best in recent weeks. The second-half goal he scored against Livingston was the his fourth in seven appearances. So what has been the reason for his revival? He believes it is collective as much as individual.  

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“It is difficult to put a finger on something specifically for me personally,” he said. “But I think we are a different Rangers team, I think that’s clear. What it is for me personally is a real hunger and togetherness in the group.

“I don’t actually know if that comes from the manager, I think that comes from the changing room. The manager has obviously got that out of us because it wasn’t there at the start of the season. Listen, I think we are in a really good place. The boys feel it, we feel it. Like I say, we have just got to look forward to the next game.”

Cantwell continued: “Don’t get me wrong, the manager deserves massive credit because the position we were in and the changing room we were in were very different when he came in. You can feel the difference in there now. I won’t be the only player to say that. We are steaming up, that’s what we’re doing, we are heating up. It is great to be a part of it at the moment.

“It is a mentality. The mentality I think was always there. When you lose the first game of the season against Kilmarnock, it is a massive dull for us and it is a massive boost for them. We know how that works, let’s not be stupid.

“So at the start of the season it looked like it was a one horse race. It is really important what the manager has said from the moment he walked in, we are not interested about what is going on elsewhere. If we do what we do we will find ourselves in a really good position.”

Former Norwich City midfielder Cantwell has found himself in a really good position personally of late – the No 10 role which he prefers to play.

He was deployed on the right flank early on in Clement’s reign due to injuries and never looked entirely comfortable or effective there. But the emergence of Ross McCausland, whose pass he fired beyond Shamal George on Saturday, has seen him return to his favoured berth in the starting line-up.

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“I’m playing centrally as a No 10 now and I am giving out the numbers that I think I can do,” he said. “The manager knows what my best position is. His words to me were ‘when I first came in we had a few injuries we had a few complications in a sense’. Listen, I am playing in a position I like and I think I am showing it is my best position. I am thankful to the manager for giving me that game time.

“Listen, the thing that’s clear is I am playing as a different No 10 than I was before. It is a different style, a different way of playing the way we are playing just. You can see that I am not being asked to play the way I was last season.

“I see a lot of comments. Todd’s not getting involved. Todd’s not doing this. But I am being asked to play differently and it is working. The numbers are coming through, I am enjoying myself so let’s just enjoy it.”