SOME people are on the p***! They think it’s all over! But is it now?

There were joyous celebrations in the East End of Glasgow as well as in Dingwall yesterday afternoon as Rangers crashed to an unexpected and potentially catastrophic cinch Premiership defeat to second-bottom Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium.

The 3-2 loss left the Ibrox club four points behind current leaders Celtic with six matches remaining and gave - even though they have a game in hand against Dundee at Dens Park, or McDiarmid Park if the pitch is waterlogged again, to play on Wednesday night – the defending champions the upper hand in the title race.

If Philippe Clement’s men win all of their remaining league outings they will still finish first. However, they have to travel across the River Clyde to play their city rivals at Parkhead in the coming weeks. They have not won there since way back in 2020.

On that occasion, too, there were no supporters inside the stadium because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their opponents will have 60,000 of their fans roaring them on during the next Old Firm derby. They will have none. It is very much advantage Celtic.

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It is little wonder, then, that their jubilant followers were uncorking the champagne, getting the beers in and ordering up trebles as Don Cowie’s plucky charges produced the shock result of the season at the weekend. Altogether now! Here we go to Three-In-A-Row!

Nobody who was present in Dingwall yesterday or who watched the action unfold at home on Sky Sports will fancy Rangers’ chances of coming from four behind with six to play and prevailing. They were porous at the back, outclassed in midfield and toothless in attack. They were outfought in every area of the park.

The Herald: James Tavernier and his team mates were fortunate to only concede three. Their hosts passed up a raft of gilt-edged scoring opportunities in the final third and Jack Butland pulled off a few fine saves during the course of the 90 minutes. In stark contrast, the visitors only netted because Jack Baldwin put the ball in his own net early on and they were awarded a late penalty after a VAR check.

Clement and Tavernier made all the right noises in their post-match interviews afterwards. The performance fell some way short of the expected standards. The supporters were badly let down. There will be a reaction to the result.

But neither of them offered any insight into how Rangers can resurrect their faltering title challenge. So can they come from behind, leapfrog a resurgent Celtic and lift the Premiership trophy? And, perhaps more importantly, how can they?

Getting Ridvan Yilmaz back fit as soon as possible would help their cause. The Turkish left back was one of Clement’s most consistent and influential performers before he picked up an injury during the international break last month. Dujon Sterling and Borna Barisic, who have deputised for him against Hibernian, Celtic and County, have not made the same impact.

Dropping Connor Goldson would be a huge call by the Belgian. The centre half is his vice-captain and has long been one of the first names down on the team sheet before kick-off. But the Englishman is currently on a desperately disappointing run of personal form.

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Does his manager just persevere with him in the hope that he comes good again? Goldson has played an awful lot of football and would perhaps benefit from a rest. Only Jack Butland, Tavernier and John Lundstram have featured more in the first team this term. Maybe, though, renewing his partnership with Leon Balogun would enable him to get his mojo back.

Leaving Tavernier out of the Rangers side is unthinkable. The skipper took his tally for the 2023/24 campaign to 24 with his well-taken spot kick yesterday. He is the leading scorer and, despite being a full-back, main attacking threat. Still, defensively he was suspect against County. He needs to have his responsibilities driven home to him there in no uncertain manner during training at Auchenhowie. 

The Herald: Further forward, who is best placed to partner Lundstram and Cantwell in midfield while Mohamed Diomande is absent? Kieran Dowell was underwhelming on Sunday. Tom Lawrence was anonymous in the derby seven days before that. But Sterling shone in the middle of the park when he was given an extended run there because of injuries earlier this season. Could that experiment be worth revisiting?

Would it, too, be worth giving Nicolas Raskin a chance? Players who are not starting on a weekly basis instantly become far better than they actually are in the eyes of supporters when the team is not performing. But he impressed in the second half of last season and has now recovered from the ankle issue which kept him out in November and December. He will certainly be fresh.

Up front, Clement has suffered from the absence of Oscar Cortes and Danilo. He has a distinct lack of options even with Abdallah Sima returning to the fray. But could moving Fabio Silva into his favoured berth through the middle and deploying Rabbi Matondo on the left flank give Rangers more pace, invention and penetration going forward?

Cyriel Dessers, who squandered some good opportunities against County, is another who perhaps needs removed from the front line. The £4.5m summer signing is a mercurial talent, brilliant one minute, bloody awful the next. A great deal has been asked of him in the second half of the season and it is showing.

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Clement and his coaching staff have much to ponder and many big decisions to make. Do they have the quality they need in the squad to catch and overtake Celtic? The coming weeks will tell onlookers a great deal about their mentality and ability. They have much to do to prove their doubters wrong and complete the second leg of a potential treble.

But one thing is absolutely certain right now – they need to beat their sixth-placed opponents Dundee at either Dens Park or McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night and get their Scottish title challenge firmly back on track.

If there is any repeat of the abject showing in Dingwall and any more points are leaked then it really will all be over for Rangers and the party in the green and white half of the city can get underway in earnest.

The Herald: