The 2023/24 season finally gets underway on Saturday evening when Michael Beale leads his new-look side to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock aiming to kick off a vital week with three points – as Rangers summer signings get their first taste of Scottish football.
The Ibrox boss has wasted little time in revamping the squad over the summer with Thursday’s arrival of Ecuadorian international Jose Cifuentes from LAFC the ninth signing ahead of the new campaign.
While the Premiership clash with Kilmarnock is only the first in a long season that will hopefully culminate in James Tavernier hoisting the league trophy into the Govan sky, there’s no time for early teething problems for Beale’s Rangers.
A Champions League qualifier against Servette looms large on the horizon for Rangers and, with last season’s CL shambles still fresh in the memory, the Light Blues need to start the season on the front foot.
Rangers’ summer signings have fans excited ahead of new campaign
Despite some grumbles over performances during pre-season, there’s little question that the Rangers support is looking forward to a refreshed Gers side challenging for the title and trying to make their mark in continental competition.
Danilo and Cifuentes, in particular, have been greeted with an enthusiasm not really seen for a new signing in years, and the prospect of a Brazilian striker – as risky as it might seem in the SPFL – does have a certain something that’s hard not to be excited about.
Jack Butland looks like a solid acquisition to replace the now-retired Allan McGregor while there’s no question that the attacking options at Ibrox have been bolstered with Danilo joined by Sam Lammers, Abdallah Sima, and Cyriel Dessers in arriving over the summer.
The exits of Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent – or at least the lack of any fee when the duo left – will remain a sore point for a while to come but there’s a real feeling of excitement at what Danilo, Dessers, and co can bring in their place.
Patience is key as Rangers summer signings bed in at Ibrox
However, a slip-up against Kilmarnock on day one of the Premiership season won’t be cause to start panicking and declaring the summer transfer business to be a waste of money.
Beale has been backed financially to build the side he thinks is capable of bringing the title back to G51 – but it doesn’t guarantee instant success.
Having been here for 55 and the years prior, Beale will be acutely aware of the expectations on him now he’s in the top job.
Few supports anywhere in football are as demanding as ours – with good reason – and Beale and his players will have to step up and be counted this season.
Beale’s starting XI likely to evolve over the coming weeks
The visit to Rugby Park may well be the first competitive look at Rangers summer signings this season – the XI that take the field in Ayrshire is unlikely to be the ‘settled’ side.
Jose Cifuentes only arrived on Thursday while Danilo only has an additional week as a Ranger under his belt, and both may find themselves watching from the bench as proceedings get underway on Saturday night.
With a few weeks until the transfer window closes, there’s also the potential for further arrivals depending on outgoings; centre-back still being an area of the side many feel needs strengthened.
Saturday’s result will be far from decisive in the title race and win, lose or draw, there needs to be some leeway given should Rangers fail to deliver the three points.
Equally, should the Gers blow Killie away it’s still far too early to get carried away – although we probably will anyway.
One thing, though, is for certain; we’re in for a helluva ride this season as Beale looks to wrestle the title back and kickstart the Revolution that Rangers have promised this season.