There hasn’t been much positivity surrounding Rangers in the last 18 months or so, the eventual liquidation of the holding company Rangers Football Club Ltd, along with the demotion to Scotland’s fourth tier, has meant the Rangers fans haven’t had the best of times supporting their club.
This led to many of the top players and even several highly regarded youngsters leaving the club for nominal fees and in most instances for free. The most notable of those being Allan McGregor, who left for Beskitas JK in Turkey - now with Hull City - and midfield talents Rhys McCabe and Jamie Ness, who joined Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City respectively.
Due to membership issues with the SFA, Rangers were unable to play any pre-season matches and only eight senior players turned up for training under manager and goal scoring legend Ally McCoist.
Despite being able to add experienced players such as David Templeton and Ian Black from Hearts and Dean Shiels from Kilmarnock, it was one of the Auchenhowie youth academy who broke into the side and got the support talking.
18 year-old central midfielder Lewis Macleod quickly settled into the side and at times looked more like a 28-year-old in his prime rather than a young kid from the academy - due to the maturity of his performances.
Macleod managed to notch up 19 appearances scoring three goals as he became a vital cog in Ally McCoists’ Rangers machine as they look to get back to the top of the Scottish game.
One match sticks out with regards to the qualities of Macleod’s abilities - the 2-0 victory at Ibrox over Motherwell in the League Cup, despite that fact the experienced Lee McCullouch and Dean Shiels who grabbed the headlines by finding the net for the light blues Macleod simply bossed the midfield for the 90 minutes, he was playing up against Keith Lasley and now of Rangers Nicky Law and at the time you would have never known which player belonged to the SPL league leaders.
He picked the right passes at the right times, battled well and showed very good strength against players almost doubled his age, and of course his trademark forward runs to try and get on the end of the crosses of Lee Wallace and Fraser Aird.
I’m sure every Rangers fan leaving the stadium that night including myself knew we had possibly seen our best midfield prospect since Barry Ferguson broke through in the 90’s. He got unlucky with injury you noticed the two-months he was out the side how important his energy was to the midfield, as it was mostly static in his absence.
Now with a full season under his belt and a 3rd Division Championship medal with his boyhood heroes, his performances impressed the fans so much he won Rangers' Young Player of The Year award for season 2012/13.
Macleod will be looking to produce once again and become better with the inclusion of Nicky Law and Honduran Arnold Peralta to the squad over the summer, and the competition for places will do him good.
Macleod also got a call up for the recent Scotland U21 international friendly against England. It’s up to him to maintain his performances and attitude of last season if he’s to become as many predict and again I include myself a cornerstone in Rangers’ journey back to the pinnacle.
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