Rangers are on the verge of ending major trophy drought: Steven Davis
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis will kick off a new Scottish Premiership season with Rangers next month believing the club are on the brink of a trophy breakthrough for the first time in eight difficult years.
In his first spell at Rangers, Davis (34) won three league titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups before departing for Southampton in 2012. He knew then that troubled times lay ahead as a financial crisis saw the club liquidated and starting over in the Third Division, but he admits he never envisaged a full eight years would pass without a major trophy landing back at Ibrox.
But now, with a squad strengthened by the arrival of new signings, including Northern Ireland team-mate Jordan Jones from Kilmarnock and Joe Aribo from Charlton, Davis feels Rangers are equipped to challenge for honours in Steven Gerrard's second season in charge.
"Winning trophies again would be huge for me," said Davis, fresh from pre-season training in Portugal. "That was the appeal for me coming back.
"I was going through a difficult period down at Southampton and I felt my time was up there. But the reason I wanted to come here was to win trophies before I finish playing.
"Anybody joining this club joins for a reason - to try to be successful and bring trophies back. Anybody coming here wants to be a winner. That's part of the appeal of joining Rangers.
"I'd far rather be fighting at the top end of the table than the bottom and I like playing under pressure.
"So when I heard Rangers were an option, it was the only one I wanted to pursue. The deal was done quite early in the window. I didn't even look at anything else.
"Are we on the cusp of something good here? I'd like to think so."
Davis continued: “The manager has brought in a lot of young players and you can see the energy they bring to training. It is infectious for the rest of the squad and there’s good quality there, too.
“There is a lot to be positive about. We know it’s going to be another difficult season but we’ve got to be confident that we can be successful. The aim at the start of every season is to go out and win trophies. This one is no different.”
With Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty on his way out of Ibrox, Davis and keeper Allan McGregor are the only players in the squad with experience of lifting serious silverware with Rangers.
“It is unbelievable that it’s been eight years since the last major trophy at Rangers,” Davis added. “In my time here before, the club was used to having success every season.
“Sometimes that first trophy can be the hardest to get. But I find once you get a taste of success, it leaves you wanting more. And as well as giving you a taste of it, you also learn how to do it.
“Back in my first spell here, there were experienced people like David Weir, Lee McCulloch and Barry Ferguson who led the way. Now there’s the likes of Allan McGregor and myself, who have been here before and tasted success, but there are other good leaders, too, in the squad.
“I’m sure all the boys here are aware of the importance of winning this club its next trophy. It’s not something we have spoken about at this point. But when we do pick up that first trophy again it will be all the sweeter.”
To do that, Davis insists Rangers must eradicate the inconsistencies that cost them dearly last season. Stopping Neil Lennon’s Celtic claiming a ninth successive title will be a big ask.
But Davis argued: “We’ve definitely got the ability to do it. Last year, we lacked a little bit of consistency. The reason we didn’t win anything wasn’t because of other teams. It was because of ourselves.
“You are not going to play well for the entire season. But when you are not playing well, you still have to find a way to win. There were games last season that we dominated but we were not clinical enough in front of goal.
“And at other times, we conceded silly goals from set-plays. These are the things we need to tighten up to make sure we can be successful next season.”
Davis, who has played 111 times for his country, was tipped by Pat Jennings in the Belfast Telegraph last week to overtake the goalkeeping legend’s record of 119 caps for Northern Ireland.
“The cap record is definitely an ambition,” said Davis. “It would be a nice thing to do but, more importantly, it would be great for Northern Ireland if we could qualify for another major tournament.
“That would mean a lot more to me.
“My international team-mates Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley played on for an unbelievable amount of time. Players now live their lives better than they did 10 or 15 years ago. You need to because the game is getting quicker all the time.
“But I don’t look too far ahead. I just want to be successful this year and play a big part for Rangers and Northern Ireland.”