WHEN asked if he believes the Rangers squad have learnt lessons from their return to action after the 2019 winter break Scott Arfield honestly admits only time can tell but says the resolve in the Rangers ranks could be the difference.
The Gers recorded their first win over Celtic away from home since 2010 last time out, after qualifying for the final 32 of the Europa League in the same month.
Arfield and his teammates now sit in a similar position to this time last season in the Premiership table but the Canada captain thinks the freshened up Light Blues’ squad are now a stronger unit to attack the second half of the season.
Speaking to RangersTV in Dubai he said: “Time will tell how it pans out but certainly I think the mentality is so much stronger.
“We did six months right up to getting in front last year, the hard work was enormous and then the first game, the first obstacle we fell short of the hurdle.
“That is something that we looked at last season, that the full of January probably wasn’t good enough and it was very detrimental to the end of May and the prize that we never got.
“This time the players are fully aware of everything and that has been reiterated right through, that we have done this hard work right up until now and I can only see us getting stronger.
“There is always external noise and everybody likes to talk about us and the mentality and the technical side to it.
“But for us it was all about getting over the line and I think anybody who watched the League Cup finally fully understands we should have got the prize but we never.
“The reality is we came up short in that game and we had a chance to put that right and I think we did that on the 29th.
“The next five months feels massive, as it did last year to be honest but I think we have got ourselves in a good position and we need to make it a great position.
“The biggest obstacle for us is to get over what we did last season and I fully believe that we can.
“We are a stronger group, we are tighter as a group and we probably have better friendships now being around each other so we fully understand each other.
“The manager keeps banging on the drum and the same message is echoed through the players and right through to the staff – I can only see us getting stronger.”
Arfield is also backing the Europa League to keep the Gers league form in tip top condition. Rangers face Braga in the final 32 of the competition and he thinks the opposition this season have propelled the team to a new level both in Europe but also and importantly, domestically.
He continued: “If we fell short in the Europa then the league games don’t come that quick. For us we have at least another two games to look forward to in the competition with packed houses and that is what you wanted to do when you signed.
“When you play with this club you need to be as successful as you can and certainly getting to this stage of the Europa is one better than last season but one that is also very welcomed.
“If you look at the teams we have faced in qualifying, in terms of technical ability, they have been far harder tests than what we were last season and we came through that.
“Then when we went onto the group stage it was probably stronger than it was last season so I think we proved to everybody that this is a proper team.
“We are only getting stronger and the tests we have come up against, particularly away from home in front of these big crowds and these big stadiums we have stood up to it and we haven’t come unstuck.”