So, Rangers were knocked out of the Scottish Cup yesterday. I didn't really see that one coming, although perhaps I should have.
And with that, it really looks like the season is over. See, it wasn't just them getting knocked out that was important; that was just one match and not really all that important. But the manner of the defeat was really quite shocking. Bluntly, Rangers deserved to be beaten, were lucky to lose only 2-0, and were made to look frankly ordinary by a Dundee United team who played well but who are, also frankly, not particularly strong themselves.
So, Rangers have now been knocked out of four competitions since the start of the season. They are a point behind in the league, with Celtic having a game in hand. They've allowed Celtic to close a very large gap in the last couple of months. They've sold their top goalscorer (and best player), while their next top scorer is injured. And they're playing really badly.
Surely Celtic can't fail to win the league from this position?
From Rangers' point of view, there are two questionable bright sides to all of this. On the field, they are now in a position where the only thing they have to worry about is the league. There are no cup matches to worry about, so they will have at least some opportunity to rest their players. Given the size of the squad, that should be welcomed. And, likewise, now that the transfer window has closed, there's no longer a risk of losing the few top players who remain.
Off the field, there was something of a scandal broke last week about loans taken out on future season ticket sales. Between that and the sale of players, it looked like Rangers should have vast reserves of money available to strengthen the squad, and yet... nothing. However, that looks to me like the owner is probably in the process of building a large financial cushion for the club. If they lose the ongoing tax case, that money may well prove to be enough to prevent administration. If they win (or lose, but not badly), it would of course put them in a great position for next year.
There's a lot of anger amongst Rangers fans at the moment, but that looks like it could actually be an upside - yes, they've sold the season (and perhaps the next few), but if it secures the future of the club then surely that's worth it?