John Lundstram has found Rangers identity as former hero points to 2008 scenario that gives Ibrox men title hope

Crunching tackles, barking orders and picking passes. John Lundstram looked right at home at Hampden as he ran the show to see off Celtic.

Kevin Thomson was blown away by the all-action display and having originally wondered how the Scouser would fit in to the Rangers line up – now he can’t picture his old side without the enforcer.

The 28-year-old was written off by some punters after a low key start to life in Govan.

Thomson reckons Lundstram was only a victim of his own versatility. He knew all about the Scouser from watching him on the box in England but he was being shuffled around positions and never seemed to find a berth.

Lundstram did the business in every role but he’s come in to his own in the midfield anchor role and Thomson believes he’s gone from fringe player to key man in his old club’s quest for glory at home and on the continent.

Thomson – who was part of the Gers side who marched all the way to the UEFA Cup Final in 2008 – said: “I questioned what he was when he first came to the club. I knew all about him from watching him on the telly with Sheffield United.

“When he was there he was about getting in the box, scoring goals and being a driving force.

“He came here and it was a different job and he has even found himself in a back three at times, like he did against Dortmund.

“It shows you how adaptable he is – but also it tells you a lot about his character.

“It’s all about the team.

“He has really found his niche in the market. He knows what he is good at now and his role in the team.

“I’m not saying he didn’t know his role before but he’s shown he can put his foot in, he can put out fires and he can get his foot on the ball.

“He’s a real protector for the back four. That’s vital at a club like Rangers because, especially in Scotland, you have a lot of the ball and are on the attack.

“But you can be vulnerable when it’s turned over and he does a brilliant job for the team.

“He’s become a really big player for Rangers.”

John Lundstram of Rangers celebrates after defeating Celtic in the Scottish Cup

It’s another really big week for Rangers.

Gio van Bronckhorst’s men have reignited their season with two monumental displays against Braga and Celtic to set up a Europa League semi showdown with Leipzig and a Scottish Cup showpiece with Hearts.

Thomson knows how tough it is to fight on multiple fronts after the Gers class from 14 years ago paid the price in the league for their heroics on the march to Manchester.

Gordon Strachan’s Celtic hauled in a seven point deficit that season but it’s Rangers on the chase as they look to reel in a six point disadvantage with just five games to go.

Thomson wouldn’t put anything past this Ibrox side though after the fight they showed at Hampden following a double dose of extra time.

He said: “It was unbelievable. Rangers actually looked the fitter team.

“Some people think if you have more time it’s the perfect scenario.

“But if it just shows if you bite down hard on the gum shield then anything is possible.

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“The effort to go 120 minutes in the Europa League quarter final and then do it again in the Scottish Cup against your arch rivals was outstanding.

“The players and the staff deserve a huge amount of credit.

“You ask any Celtic player if they’d like to be in the semi-final of a European competition.

“Listen, it’s tough.

“We sampled it in 2008 when our success in Europe was ultimately our downfall and we didn’t get what we wanted.

“Ideally you want to win them all but I wouldn’t change it.

“The title is not done yet. Look, the harsh reality is Celtic are in a really strong position. They have done very well domestically and they are the team to beat with five games to go.

“But there’s still an Old Firm game to come and all of a sudden these five games are a lot harder.

“They will be up against teams with a lot to play for, with things like Europe up for grabs.

“It certainly ain’t over. Rangers won’t give up until it’s mathematically over.

“You never know. It happened to us when we got pegged back when we were six or seven points ahead with five or six games to go.

“I think Celtic won eight or nine on the bounce to win the league (Celtic won seven), so it can be done.

“The hard thing for Rangers is they are running out of games.”

Thomson is convinced Rangers won’t give up on the glory chase and he reckons a trophy at the end of term would the least this Ibrox squad deserves.

Rangers’ John Lundstram (left) and Dundee’s Cammy Kerr battle for the ball during the Scottish Premier League match at Dens Park, Dundee. Picture date: Saturday September 25, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Dundee. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

He said: “Rangers have a chance of silverware this season no matter what. That’s a big deal because although it’s nice to see the fans enjoying big days in the cup and in Europe, the reality is you want to have silverware at the end to reward those efforts.

“That’s how you measure success. It would be a damp squib to come away from this season without a trophy but Rangers have given themselves a chance in all competitions.

“They will keep fighting in the league but they have a great opportunity now to lift the Scottish Cup.

“And as for Europe, they have done incredibly well to go this far and you can’t count them out going further again, which would be an incredible achievement.

“It could end up an unbelievable season.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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