Kranjcar predicts bright Scottish Premiership season for Rangers


Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers midfielder Niko Kranjcar says he still believes his side have a good season ahead of them after they ended a four-match winless run with a 2-0 defeat of Partick Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday.

The Croatian midfielder capped his best performance for the Ibrox club with his first league goal to open the scoring in the 33rd minute before Andy Halliday added a second seven minutes later.

It was far from a polished performance from the Glasgow giants who move up to fifth in the table and continue to trail league leaders Celtic, who defeated Dundee 1-0 earlier in the day, by seven points with their Old Firm rivals having played a game less.

It was Rangers’ first victory in the league since August 20 as they struggle to adapt to life back in the top flight following a four-year absence. 

“When you’re coming into a game which is a must-win so early in the season then nerves are going to kick in and the most important thing was we got the three points,” said former Croatian international Kranjcar.

“I think at the moment we shouldn’t think about a title challenge. I think we should think about winning the next game.

“It’s not in our hands in respect to the points we’ve dropped already. We’ve learned that the most important game is the next one coming up.

“Obviously we have the international break coming up and we have to work hard to get ready and pick up three points away to Inverness.

“Then we can talk come Christmas or January where we are in the title race.”

Kranjcar has come in for some criticism for his level of performance and fitness since his arrival from the New York Cosmos in the summer.

However, Rangers assistant manager David Weir praised the veteran midfielder for his work in training and on the pitch.

“From day one the manager has said he is catching up. He’s a top level player. You don’t play 81 times for Croatia playing in World Cups and European Championships without having a level of ability,” Weir said.

“It’s up to us to get him back to that level of fitness and consistency. But he showed today, and he has done in flashes throughout the season, the level that he has.”

Despite the joy on the pitch, Rangers’ victory was overshadowed by a coach crash which left one of their fans dead and 17 injured.

The road accident happened when the coach, carrying 36 fans plus the driver, overturned in East Ayrshire to the south of Glasgow en route to the afternoon match.

Witnesses said the vehicle swerved near a roundabout before it overturned on a grass verge.

The 18 injured were taken to hospital, said a police spokesman, who confirmed that a 39-year-old man had later died of his injuries.

“Obviously there are things more important than football and our thoughts are with the people and families involved,” said Weir.

“I’m sure the club will be very supportive in regards to anything they can do to help the situation.”

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