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Borna Barisic adamant Rangers have more bottle this season

Rangers v St Johnstone – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Stuart Wallace)

Borna Barisic has hailed Rangers’ new-found strength of character as he insisted the days of Steven Gerrard’s team hitting the panic button are over.

The Light Blues found themselves under fresh pressure on Saturday as they fell 1-0 down to Motherwell just days after being shocked by St Mirren in the Betfred Cup.

But Rangers kept their cool and hit back with a Kemar Roofe double either side of Cedric Itten’s header to finally kill off Stephen Robinson’s stubborn Steelmen.

And Barisic, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s trip to St Johnstone, insists this season’s Rangers team are made of sterner stuff than the side which has failed to go the distance over the past two campaigns.

He said: “I think that we showed character because I remember last season and the season before when we would be 1-0 down, we’d always struggle to come back.

“We would start to panic and maybe we couldn’t come back. But this time we believed in each other on the pitch, didn’t panic and in the end I think we deserved that win.

“We again scored three goals and showed the team spirit we have and a very different character from last season and the year before.”

That win over Well opened up a 16-point lead over Celtic at the top of the table but while Barisic shrugged off talk that his side are now showing title-winning credentials, he did praise the speed at which Gerrard’s new recruits this season have grasped the enormity of what is at stake as they chase down the club’s first major trophy in a decade.

He said: “I cannot talk about the mentality of champions but yes I can say that the mentality is different.

“This is now our third season together and we’ve learned a lot about everyone and each other. There are some new players who have adapted very quickly.

“I think our mentality now is much different and I can see that especially in this last game (against Motherwell). I can’t remember a game (previously) where we were 1-0 down and that we didn’t panic and kept playing to our game plan so I think there is a much different mentality from our squad, which is very good and I think our results show that.”

Robinson has drawn scorn from sections of the Light Blues faithful after setting his team up in an ultra-defensive 5-5-0 formation.

And Barisic would not be surprised to see other Scottish Premiership bosses adopting similar tactics as they look to put the breaks on Rangers’ unbeaten title charge.

The Croatia full-back said: “You know that almost every other game the other team is happy with a draw actually. They just sit back and that’s not easy to play against teams like that. But I respect them and I understand that.

“That’s the challenge for us. We are Rangers and we have to find a way to beat that block but as you saw this weekend it’s not easy when they stay with 10 players around the 18-yard box and just defend.

“But we stuck to the plan, did everything really well and scored three goals. We’ll face this challenge almost every game so we need to find a way.”

Wednesday’s Perth trip starts a hectic run of four games in 11 days leading up to Celtic’s visit to Ibrox on January 2, but Barisic is not complaining about his side’s festive workload.

“The schedule is a little bit crazy eh?” he laughed. “We play every three or four days but we’ve been doing that since September, so of course sometimes it is hard.

“It’s hard to recover when you are playing so much for three or four months in a row like that. But that is why we play for Rangers and why we represent this club.

“There is no time spare to think about the schedule, we only think about the next game and how to recover. Believe me, we are fully focused so we will not have a problem with that schedule.

“We know that St Johnstone will be tough, especially when we play away as the weather now is not good, so the pitch won’t be perfect probably.

“The game will be hard for sure but we’re going to win there and we’ll give everything we need to win that game.”