At times last season Mark Warburton proved to be something of a hard-to- please perfectionist when assessing his team’s performance – even following games that had produced an emphatic win.
Not so on Saturday, however, for he was full of praise following the 2-0 defeat of Motherwell.
“It was a really pleasing afternoon’s work by the players and I thought their energy levels were superb,” Warburton beamed.
“During the first quarter-of an hour or so we really looked like a team in our first competitive game, sloppy and giving the ball away cheaply.
“After that we dominated the football, created chance after chance and especially in the second half we should have been out of sight.
“It was a very good finish for the first goal and then there were a couple of strange decisions shall we say that didn’t go our way… over the course of the ninety minutes there were some decisions – and a lot didn’t go our way – but the result was good and we were positive in our performance.
“In truth it was a really good afternoon – 2-0 flatters the opposition, it should have been more.”
The Ibrox boss also had praise for new signing Niko Kranjcar.
“We have mentioned before that he had 80-odd caps for Croatia but he recognises what he has to do and the fitness levels that he has to establish to really make an impact,” added Warburton.
James Tavernier opened the scoring at Fir Park, repeating the feat of the last campaign when he netted the first goal of the new campaign against Hibernian at Easter Road in the Challenge Cup – and the full-back spoke enthusiastically of the win.
“It’s a great start to the season,” he said.
“We’ve had a few weeks now of working really hard. To come to Motherwell and put in a great performance, looking really strong, is a great start to the season.”
Tavernier, however, acknowledged that the early stages were far from impressive.
“We’ve been quite lucky in the first half with Motherwell not taking their chances – but in the second half we created our own chances, which we should have put away.
“I’m obviously relieved that I could get the first goal and from there we could relax a little bit. It was similar to the kind of games that we played last year, where teams sit in front of the goal and try to catch us on the counter-attack.”
Next up for Rangers is the visit to Ibrox of Annan Athletic tomorrow night for the first home game of the season.
Warburton has promised the fans that they will get a first viewing of many of the summer signings, including Joey Barton.
“We have four games in nine days which isn’t ideal but we have to maximise it, recover well and push forward,” the Rangers boss said.
“Joey is working hard – you don’t want to rush any player – but if we can get half-an- hour on Tuesday then we will do it.
“I was delighted to get Josh and Niko involved – and they looked very positive, Michael O’Halloran came on and made a good impact on the right hand side and everyone got pitch time.”