A great club never falls into oblivion. He may stumble, but he will always get up. This is the case of Glasgow Rangers, holders, with their 55 Scottish championship titles, of the world record for national championships won. Having also gleaned 27 Scottish League Cups and 33 Scottish Cups, The Gers are an absolute reference in their country, but also throughout the United Kingdom, because Rangers are the first British club to have reached a European final. . It was in 1961 when they lost to Fiorentina in the Cup Winners’ Cup final. They also won this trophy in 1972 against Dynamo Moscow, after losing a second time in the final in 1967 (against Bayern).
A fallen leader
Accompanied by their loyal supporters always ready to return to the mythical and incandescent Ibrox Park – which, for the record, brought together 118,567 people on February 2, 1939 during the Old Firm against Celtic, a record for a British championship match – the Light Blues could not prevent, despite this national and international pedigree built up over a long history, the demotion of the club to the fourth division due to excessive debts with the British tax authorities. Sent to play across the Highlands just a few years after playing but losing to Zenith Saint Petersburg in a UEFA Cup final, forerunner of the Europa League, Rangers were wasting no time in their quest for glory lost.
Logically, before starting an incredible climb, you have to be at the foot of the mountain. The Rangers therefore fell from their summit in a way that was as sudden as it was extreme. Indeed, the problems began seriously during the 2011-2012 season, when the club had accumulated colossal debts, up to 166 million euros, including 115 with the British tax authorities. In February 2012, Rangers sought receivership, but after liquidation, asset sales and a rejected consortium, The Gers, who had only known the Premier League since joining in 1890, were sent, after the vote of 25 of the 30 professional clubs, in the fourth tier of Scottish football.
An express ascent
Starting the 2012-2013 season in League Two by being banned from recruitment, the Teddy Bears, nickname given for the rhyme with the word Rangers pronounced with a Scottish accent, managed to build a competitive workforce. While only three players agreed to accompany the club from D1 to D4, the team was made up of young people trained at the club, players without a contract wishing to relaunch their careers, or lovers of the club wishing to help it regain its former glory. The first two seasons went off without a hitch since the club went on two consecutive climbs thanks to a level of play superior to that of its opponents, and to the always infallible support of the Glaswegians, who were nearly 50,000 at Ibrox for a D3 match. . A world record.
After being beaten in the race to the rise by Heart of Midlothian in their first season in the Scottish Championship (D2), Rangers became the following season the first Scottish club to win the title in the first four divisions. They therefore returned to the elite at the end of the 2015-2016 season, after four years of absence. The first two years were correct: the club finished each time on the 3rd step of the podium. However the rival, Celtic Glasgow, still largely dominated the debates. Aware that something had to change to stimulate a new cycle, the management then placed the legend of Liverpool, Steven Gerrard, on his bench. Thanks to his aura, the former midfielder managed to convince seasoned players like Jon Flanagan or Jermain Defoe to join him in the south of Scotland.
Back on his throne
After finishing second in the championship in his first season on the bench, the current manager of Aston Villa saw his second exercise being stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Championship was stopped and never resumed, leaving Rangers to finish the season once again in second place behind Celtic. However, the hegemony of the Bhoys came to an end the following season, during the 2020-2021 financial year. Indeed, despite being behind closed doors all season, Rangers had an incredible exercise in which they did not lose a single game, even if they did not manage to repeat the feat of 1899 and 100% wins. Led in particular by Alfredo Morelos, Kemar Roofe, Ianis Hagi, son of Gheorghe, the Maradona of the Carpathians, and by their captain and very attacking right-back, James Tavernier, The Gers finished the championship 25 points ahead of their rivals.
While this season Celtic reclaimed their crown, Rangers focused on the European Cup, which could have been the Champions League had they been able to get past Malmö in the third qualifying round. After eliminating Armenian club Alashkert Yerevan in the play-off, the Scots found themselves in Group A of the Europa League along with Lyon, Sparta Prague and Brondby. After losing their first two games against the French and the Czechs, the men of Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, who arrived in November to replace Gerrard who left for Aston Villa, managed to finish second in their pool thanks in particular to victories against Prague. and Brondby.
The European epic
When in 2007-2008, The Light and Blues were drafted into the UEFA Cup after finishing 3rd in the Champions League behind FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais, they then successively eliminated Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen, Sporting Portugal and Fiorentina to reach the final against Zenith Saint Petersburg. This season, their journey has been just as beautiful. Not losing any home game in the knockout phase, they eliminated Dortmund in the round of 16 after a fine victory at Signal Iduna Park in the first leg (2-4), before successively defeating Red Star of Belgrade then Sporting Braga after a defeat in the first leg against the Portuguese. Defender Leon Balogun also revealed after the victory against BVB: “With this relegation, we know what people have endured here, they defend their club, no matter the conditions.”
Opposed to the Germans of Leipzig in the semi-finals, the Rangers lost (1-0) in the first leg but completely reversed the trend when they returned to Ibrox Park once again ready to explode (3-1). They will thus find in the final a third German club this season, Eintracht Frankfurt, for a remake of the half of the Champions Club Cup of 1960 won by the Germans. Winger Ryan Kent, at the club since 2019, told Skysports the state of mind that drives his team: “this trip has been a great struggle, each year we wanted to progress further than the previous year and we managed to do so by reaching the final. We will approach this match with the same state of mind that has animated us throughout the competition. We have faced top-notch opponents and nothing changes until the final.” The objective is announced: to leave Seville with the second European title in the history of the club in order to satisfy all their loyal supporters.