It took Giovanni van Bronckhorst a while to be convinced by John Lundstram but when he was, the midfielder produced a spell of form which elevated him to "best on earth" status at Ibrox.

The midfielder had to wait for his chance, however. It took a heavy defeat at Parkhead before Lundstram would grasp his opportunity.

Once he established himself in the team Rangers didn’t look back. But as Gio’s reign got into deep water Lundstram's form nosedived and the standards set earlier that same year began to falter. Earlier this year, he took umbrage when I asked him whether a contract extension beyond this coming summer was likely. 

Following Michael Beale's arrival Lundstram was part of a squad that produced results but not performances. Indeed, at moments this season, when Rangers had supposedly spent the summer getting fitter than ever, the midfielder had looked like he was pulling a caravan with painful performances in the engine room.

Lundstram's performance in Cyprus was woeful as Rangers gifted goals away and his part in the second was excruciating to watch.

But in four weeks under Philippe Clement, he has arguably been the top performer in almost every match. His form has improved so much that we even heard a rendition of his famous song during the recent win over Sparta Prague.

It’s a relationship that required some healing but now, everyone can see the improvement in his game.

So why has that happened?

Is he fitter? Well, it looks like it. He’s gone from lagging behind and not tracking runners to bursting forward and winning sprints on the left wing as we saw against Hearts at Hampden recently.

Has his game been simplified? In his own words, yes. He’s part of a recognisable structure in a midfield double pivot. His role is to cover space, win his duels and get the ball forward at a far quicker pace than before.


So, given his upturn in form, should Rangers be considering a new contract? The answer to that is absolutely, but also not yet.

I want to see a sustained level of performance from Lunny before we think about any new deal. He’s more than capable and if he can continue to get fitter and maintain his level of performance then come the spring a new contract should be on offer. Even then it ought to be shorter than the player may like himself. 

I think, much like the rest of the team, Lundstram is capable of even more under the new manager and ultimately the next six weeks will define our season. Rangers are not in a title race yet, but they aren't out of one either. One result could really swing things either way and the players must respond to that pressure. There is also the small matter of a League Cup to finally be brought back to Ibrox. 

Another player who has impressed of late and could be a key figure in the next 12 games is Leon Balogun.

The big centre-back has come in from the cold and looked as though he’s never been away. When he returned this summer most were content at the prospect of Balogun enacting an emergency backup role within the squad. However, as Rangers head to Pittodrie and with big matches ahead in the upcoming weeks, the Nigerian is my first pick to partner Connor Goldson. 

He’s strong in the air, capable of winning duels and quick on the deck. Balogun is naturally comfortable on the left and, more importantly, is a natural partner for Goldson who has, in turn, begun to look more comfortable.

John Souttar and Ben Davies have both made mistakes at times and struggled whereas Leon’s performances have brought a sense of calm into the defence. It's no coincidence our backline has looked more solid in the last few weeks.

Why have both Balogun and Lundstram performed to better levels? It’s hard not to look past the manager who has simplified players' tasks and instilled them with confidence. He’s given them a platform and they have all responded, not just those two but Danilo, Scott Wright, Abdallah Sima and many others.

Can this squad build on the promise shown recently? Their form over the next six weeks is vital to show that this isn't simply a new manager bounce, but a sustained step in the right direction. 

This season depends on it and Ibrox futures do too.