It's fair to say when this season started way back in late July of last year, most Rangers fans didn't have any idea of what lay ahead. We had a new manager and a variety of new players, several of whom few of us had heard of. I'd guess it's also accurate to suggest that when Hibs went 1-0 up in our first game, any pre-season confidence we did have was replaced by nail-biting. Fortunately, by the end of that game a 6-2 win was secured and an early marker for the new campaign was demonstrated. Suffice to say, we've fulfilled the promise shown that day and, some disappointing results and periods aside, have deserved all the plaudits, trophies and awards we've won since.
As well as securing the Championship title early last month, the Challenge Cup was won at Hampden and the opportunity of doing the same with the Scottish Cup was offered with an excellent win over Celtic a week after that. Add in a Manager of the Year award for Mark Warburton and various other accolades for Lee Wallace and Barrie McKay, there's no doubt this has been a successful season for all concerned. Given the huge numbers that have followed the team, I think it's fair to say the Rangers fans have got what they deserved in that respect. Let's hope the Scottish Cup (and European football) follows later this month...
In the meantime, with the league campaign now finished - albeit with some fairly poor recent form - it's time to vote for the Gersnet Player of the Year. Before we open up the poll though, it's worth taking a quick look at each individual player and offering a site editorial rating to hopefully help you make your choice. As such please check out the comments below and cast your vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.
The first of over ten débutantes this season has been an ever-present in goal. Clearly brought in because of his impressive talent with the ball at his feet, the Englishman's contribution to the possession-based system we use should not be under-estimated. Unfortunately, his goalkeeping skills have been less consistent with his largely fine year occasionally blotted by silly mistakes.
Score: 7 - Potential is certainly there but could do more to command his area.
Another new signing who made an instant impression, the former Wigan right back has also been a mainstay in the team. With 15 goals and over 20 assists from an extremely successful season, it's perhaps been a surprise he's been over-looked for many of the award ceremonies. Although his defensive work hasn't always been quite as notable, Tavernier is likely to be a key player again next season.
Score: 9 - Defensive doubts aside, the right back has been a joy to watch and clearly a vital team player.
Also brought in from Wigan last summer, this ball-playing centre half has had an up and down year. Although he's generally been reasonably reliable at the back, there have been some games where he's looked less than assured but a superb game against Celtic last month showed just how useful he could be as he develops.
Score: 7 - Still only 25 and can be happy with his overall input to our campaign.
Now in his second spell at the club, it's easy to forget Wilson is still only 24. After moving to Liverpool in 2010, he struggled down South before a successful two year period at Hearts resulted in him returning to Ibrox last summer. Unfortunately, doubts over his pace and lack of concentration have prevailed this season and Wilson will need to improve substantially next season if he's to retain his first choice status.
Score: 6 - A poor start and finish to the season has spoilt a largely decent contribution overall.
Rangers' club captain has also started every game this season and is one of few players who remain from the pre-administration era. With nine goals and 13 assists, he's perhaps not been quite as effective in an attacking sense as Tavernier but is usually more dependable in defence. Can it be argued that he's too passive at times though? Crowned PFA Championship Player of the Year last night and also the club's official Player of the Year, will he add to his haul from Gersnet readers?
Score: 9 - It's difficult to argue with the awards he's won and Scotland's international side are well off if they can afford to ignore Wallace's consistently high level of performance.
Brought in from Bradford City on a free transfer, the left-sided Scottish midfielder was perhaps more familiar to some Rangers fans given he's 'one of our own'. And by only missing two games over the course of the season, he's proven himself extremely reliable whether it be in his more usual deeper position or further forward. However, there have been occasions where his standard has dropped and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a higher level next season.
Score: 8 - It's been a successful home-coming year for the Scot and he's helped drive the team forward throughout.
Primarily used as an under-study at centre-half or, often more effectively, in a defensive midfield position, the on-loan Spurs youngster has impressed after his move North. It perhaps says it all that Mark Warburton wants to extend his loan and there's no doubt the reliable versatility Ball brings would be extremely useful.
Score: 7 - Given the lad has been in and out of the team more than most, he deserves a lot of credit for his consistent displays.
A surprise signing from Hearts, Holt has thrived in Rangers' expansive attacking system and has repaid the faith offered in him with ten goals and eight assists. It can be easy to overlook the attacking midfielder's contribution but his hard-work and space-finding/creative talents have been essential up against teams who often sit very deep.
Score: 8 - Holt's form has arguably declined towards the end of the season but it's only when he misses games that you realise his importance.
Primarily used from the bench, the Ulsterman has never quite been able to secure a place in the manager's first XI. This is perhaps reflected by the club apparently allowing his contract to run out this summer. If he does leave, Rangers fans will remember some important goals and hard work during his four years at the club.
Score: 6 - His 42 games played shows Shiels has been a vital squad player but surely more quality will be required next season?
Brought in on loan from Arsenal in late August, the young American has had a somewhat stop-start year. There's no doubt his ability to receive, shield and recycle the ball is impressive but many fans continue to suggest he flatters to deceive. No matter, I'd argue we've seen some improvement in his development but, on the other hand, he may not be a luxury we can afford in the Premiership.
Score: 6 - Injuries and international duties may have curtailed the appearances of a talented, though still rather raw, young player.
As with Shiels and Zelalem, Law has struggled to get into the team and when called upon he's also been inconsistent in terms of his contribution. Despite a disappointing season last year, it was hoped his eagerness on the ball would be improved under Warburton but Law has never really grasped any opportunity. Unlikely to be offered a new contract but will leave the club with thanks from the fans for a reasonable three years in the lower leagues.
Score: 5 - Always a useful option from the bench but has struggled to show himself capable of making the step up.
An unexpected New Year signing from Doncaster Rovers, the creative midfielder initially struggled with fitness and sharpness. However, he was able to quickly develop whether used in a wide or central role and his goals during the course of February and March proved vital on Rangers' march to the title. Signed a much-deserved new contract before a hairline fracture of the leg finished his league season against Peterhead.
Score: 8 - Played less than a third of our games this season but has been badly missed of late.
Perhaps the most interesting story of this season has been the transformation of the young winger from bit-part prospect given his début four years ago in Rangers' first lower league game to key creative outlet in a superb full season. Like Forrester, McKay can play wide or centrally and has proven himself a threat wherever he features. Can he continue his form for club (and country) next season?
Score: 9 - Not only does he provide chances for others, McKay can score goals from anywhere on the pitch. A key player throughout season 2015/16.
Another surprise signing from Hearts; this time on loan in January, the winger has made a reasonable contribution when called-upon. Unfortunately, by being cup-tied this has meant a stop-start three months at Ibrox though he's shown glimpses of useful form throughout. Also scored a vital injury-time goal on his début as a sub against Falkirk.
Score: 6 - Perhaps a useful option to retain going forward but remains to be seen if a permanent deal can be struck with his parent club.
Finally signed on transfer deadline day from St Johnstone for £500,000, the right-sided attacker has largely struggled to adapt to life at Rangers. As with King, he's been cup-tied for various games which has stifled his ability to nail down a starting position. Nevertheless, he's also scored a few important goals and will be keen to make an improved impression next season.
Score: 5 - It's difficult to criticise too much but the player has lots of work ahead if he's to have a successful Rangers career.
After a largely unsuccessful few years drifting around lower league teams in England, the signing of the former Leicester City striker has proven a real coup for Mark Warburton. Dangerous right across the forward line, Waghorn is not only capable of scoring goals himself, but is strong on the ball and a vital link player as Rangers attack in general. His fellow Rangers players recognised this with the club Players' Player of the Year award.
Score: 9 - If it wasn't for his knee injury in February, Waghorn would be undisputed Player of the Year. Could still yet score 30 for the season if he plays in the Cup Final.
Still unappreciated by some Rangers fans, the 36 year old has had an extremely effective season. Decent enough in the first half of the campaign, it wasn't until Waghorn got injured that Miller really showed his worth. Playing slightly deeper in a false nine role, the veteran striker has still scored 20 goals and created 12 more to show he remains a useful option in attack.
Score: 8: Perhaps slightly less effective than one or two others but it's been a sterling year for Miller and it's no wonder the manager thinks so highly of him.
Another player used mostly from the bench as deputy for others, Clark has also proven himself useful over the course of the season. Although, usually dangerous in attack, unfortunately, he doesn't perform consistently enough to warrant first choice selection. As with Shiels, Law and others, this may mean no new contract this summer.
Score: 5 - It's unfair to be overly critical of players who don't get enough football to really judge their performances. Clark is one such player and he'll leave with our thanks for helping get the club back to the top division.
Cammy Bell, Fraser Aird, Jordan Thompson, Liam Burt, Tom Walsh, David Templeton, Nathan Oduwa and Ryan Hardie
All the above have only played a small part in our season but deserve to be recognised for this. Thanks to all for their contribution and we may well see more of each next season and beyond.
Mark Warburton and David Weir
I think it would be remiss of us not to mention the management team in this article. OK, they're not contributing on the pitch per se but it cannot be denied the positive effect these guys have had on our season. Quite simply, they've turned around the fortunes of the football operation in a qualitative sense and ensured watching our team play is no longer a chore but a genuine pleasure. Our appreciations must also go to the rest of the coaching team who've helped deliver promotion and the chance of a Scottish Cup win. Of particular mention must be the fitness/medical staff who appear to have done an amazing job of keeping the squad fit and well throughout. Thanks!
Gersnet Player of the Year 2015/16
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