Don’t worry Rangers fans, it’s almost safe to come out from behind the couch.

With only one game to go, a stressful campaign in the top tier of Scottish football is mercifully nearly at an end.

Life hasn’t been easy for the club’s support over the last few years.

Beginning their self-proclaimed ‘journey’ back in Brechin five years ago, their passage to the big time was beset with more obstacles than the Raith Interchange.

On the field far off outposts such as Forres and Peterhead were ticked off without much conviction, the mighty Albion Rovers only being overcome in a Scottish Cup replay at Ibrox.

On top of that, there was Charles Green, Mike Ashley, and Ally McCoist off to a garden centre. Or something like that.

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What those supporters on the way back from Balmoor celebrating a 2-2 draw would have given to be back at Ibrox, in the big time, losing 2-1 to Aberdeen.

Let’s be honest, this season hasn’t been great viewing for Rangers fans. In fact it’s been honking for the most part. There are fans of practically half the league clubs who will surely sympathise.

It shouldn’t have come as that much of a shock, then, that this Rangers team under Mark Warburton failed to blow teams away. They may have won the Championship by a canter in terms of points, but those flocking to Govan every second week have been starved of scintillating football for some time now.

Rangers are a club with an identity complex. On one hand they are the Glasgow superpower with the weight of hundreds of thousands of fans’ expectation on their shoulders, yearning to be back playing Champions League football with more silver in the trophy cabinet than Long John’s family tree.

On the other they are a team with Joe Dodoo.

The writing was on the wall from the very start for this Rangers team in the Premiership. Despite impressing in the Betfred Cup group stages against Motherwell, Stranraer, East Stirling and Annan, the failure to beat a Hamilton team tipped for relegation - a premonition which could come true today - should have been the first red flag.

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The lack of fitness of Niko Kranjcar, the kamikaze mindset of a defence which can’t defend or the general theatre surrounding Joey Barton - remember him? - were all alarm bell moments.

In truth, for a team coming into the top flight in the condition they were in and with the signings that were made, Rangers have done well to finish third.

Celtic and Aberdeen have improved this season, but even compared to last year’s final tally Rangers are still over 20 points behind Celtic. With a game to go they are not even in third compared to Hearts’ total points (they will leapfrog Hearts if they win tomorrow).

The fact is this Rangers team was never ever good enough to get near even Ronny Deila’s Celtic, let alone the turbo-charged Mk2. How many of the players in a light blue jersey would you take right now over the ones filling an Aberdeen jersey, let alone a Celtic one?

Evening Times: Mark Warburton and David Weir watched Rangers lose 1-0 to Burnley at Ibrox

Fans can be angry, and they should be. But the frustration should largely be directed at the man currently talking in riddles somewhere in Nottingham.

Pedro Caixinha is not the man to blame for a team which scrapes wins against Partick Thistle or is soundly beaten by a stronger Aberdeen at home. That lies at the door of not just Warburton, but those who trusted him and his backroom staff to get their recruitment right. They didn’t.

It was always going to be a long, drawn out recovery for Rangers. The foundations laid by Warburton now need ripped up and done again by his Portuguese replacement. Next season may not be a barrel of laughs either.

Where Rangers go from here is what matters now. Attempting to keep up with Celtic, or even have what they do on their radar, should be put out of mind.

In the short-term, it’s of no relevance.

Evening Times: Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha in Old Firm action. Picture: SNS

Instead, the focus for Caixinha and the director of football - whoever he may be - has to get their recruitment right early on and recognise the strides which now have to be made this summer. If that happens, the gradual progression of this time will take precedence, and hopefully the club’s support will recognise that.

With the news that 35,000 season ticket holders have renewed comes an expectation - or hope - that next year will be different. This time, it will be better.

The blame up to this point is not pointed at Caixinha. Rightly or wrongly, another year of more of the same, and another third-placed finish, and he may not be there to see it out.