It is safe to say that Michael Beale could be doing with a break right now. A pre-match press conference is the least of his worries, but he did find himself out of the firing line on Tuesday as Neil Banfield sat in the hotseat ahead of the visit of Livingston.

The assistant manager had the unfortunate task of confirming that Rabbi Matondo will be out of action for around six weeks after sustaining a knee injury in the win over Motherwell on Sunday. That is the latest blow that Beale could have done without.

The Viaplay Cup quarter-final is a potentially defining one for Beale. He will be fully aware of the ramifications of a defeat in front of an Ibrox crowd that have an even shorter fuse than usual right now and Rangers are in desperate need of a performance and a result to take the heat out of a situation that has threatened to boil over on more than one occasion recently.

The three fixtures in a week factor

Banfield repeatedly made reference to the schedule and the cycle that Rangers are in as they compete across domestic and European fixtures. It may be a factor, but it cannot be used as an excuse and Banfield was eager to draw a line under a weekend win and focus on the next fixture.

He admitted that there are ‘certain aspects of it that we could do better’ and revealed that the ‘group is harsh on themselves’ as performances and results are assessed and analysed.

Banfield was asked about supporters waiting on a ‘big performance’ coming from Rangers and what it would do for the players and the punters if it was to come against Livingston.

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“Did you not think Real Betis was a big performance,” was the rhetorical answer. “We played PSV and drew 2-2, was that not a big performance? We have got them in there, it’s sustaining them all the time. We are moving forward and we are going places, I think we’ve shown that without a doubt.”

The assertion that it has been a case of one step back and two forward will spark a debate of its own, as will Banfield’s insistence that the process had to be worked through while a successful side was being built. Time will soon tell what path Rangers are striding down this term.

Opportunities await in the League Cup

Banfield dismissed the notion that there is more pressure on Rangers to win this competition given that Celtic are already out of it. He insisted that the demand for trophies is just life at Ibrox, and what Beale’s side ‘are about’.

“When you look at it, running on four competitions is great,” Banfield said. “We had the league last Sunday, we had Europe and we have got the League Cup on Wednesday. It is fantastic.

“That is what we all came here for and what we want to be involved in. We prepare exactly the same for every game and we are focused on winning the game on Wednesday night with how tough it is going to be for us.”

There is, though, no getting away from the significance of this fixture and what a defeat would mean for Beale. Quite simply, it is win or bust for the Englishman, both in terms of the League Cup and his position at Ibrox.

The final at Hampden will not be played until the middle of December. In more ways than one, Beale must make sure that he gets there first and foremost.

The message to the supporters

The reaction from the Ibrox crowd at the final whistle spoke volumes as a deflected effort from Cyriel Dessers secured a narrow win over Motherwell. It was a victory that wasn’t exactly well-earned, and one that was arguably not even deserved after a wretched showing.

Beale was open and honest when he spoke in the immediate aftermath and he cut a frustrated figure throughout his post-match press conference. A couple of days on, it was down to Banfield to try and turn the tide and change the mood.

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He insisted that the intensity of Ibrox hadn’t come as a surprise to him or taken him aback during his time in Glasgow but admitted that Beale was fully cognisant of the scrutiny that was on him.

“Just keep supporting us,” Banfield said when asked what his message was to the supporters that booed Rangers off on Sunday. “I come out every time through that tunnel and it’s fantastic, you can hear them cheering. They will cheer us on again [on Wednesday] night. We’re working for them to be successful.”

Anger is one thing at Ibrox, but apathy is quite another and is arguably more dangerous. The reaction before, during and after the Livingston fixture will be telling.

Squad are behind boss Beale

The opinion of the support is split on Beale. Some believe his time is up, others will give him the chance to turn around Rangers’ fortunes.

There will naturally be a section that is in the middle at present and Beale needs to sway those floating voters into his camp sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t, the weight of public perception will be too great a burden on his shoulders and the Ibrox board will be forced into acting.

There are a handful of problems that have undermined Rangers so far this season. Yet the accusation that Beale’s side are no longer playing for him has rarely come from a disgruntled crowd and those that the manager has put his faith in must repay the backing in the coming matches.

As ever in these situations, it is a case of actions speaking louder than words. The summer investment has not paid off so far for Rangers but there is still a confidence within the camp that Beale’s side are on the right track individually and collectively.

“Always as a team and behind the manager from the day he signed till now,” striker Kemar Roofe said when asked how united the team were behind Beale. “We worked massively in the off-season and pre-season with the new players to learn the system and having to adapt to a club like this and new surroundings.

“It’s all coming together, I’ll just repeat myself. It is difficult at a club like this you get high expectations and every day you have to match them. Some days you won’t, it’s not realistic but we are trying our best.”

Roofe sticks to his personal plans

There have been few individual success stories so far this season but Roofe can lay claim to being one of them after returning to full fitness and quickly becoming an integral part of the Ibrox attack.

Roofe’s quality or his character have never been in question. His fitness has more often than not over the last couple of seasons but those fears are being allayed on a weekly basis.

Roofe was called upon from the bench against Motherwell at a time when Beale didn’t want to have to pitch him into the action. It seems certain that he will come back into the starting line-up against Livingston and the forward detailed the blueprint that has helped him work his way back up to full fitness after undergoing surgery earlier in the year. Soon, he will be playing three times a week.

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“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Roofe said. “I didn’t play many games in pre-season because it was still part of the build-up of my rehab. I haven’t been able to play three games in a week for a long time but every stage my body has to adapt and I have to get used to it.

“So I’ve played 90 minutes, I’ve played two or three days after the 90 minutes and nearly played another 90 minutes. The third game, ‘Okay, let’s calm down a bit, let’s not get carried away, let’s be sensible. Come off the bench if needed for then to go again the next game.’ So it’s having to adapt, let the body get used to it and then eventually after an amount of time I should be fine to deal with the three games.