Rangers midfielder Todd Cantwell says he’s enjoying his time in the Ibrox side so far – but believes the fans have yet to see his best form.
Cantwell joined Michael Beale’s side in January and has impressed supporters with his performances since coming into the team.
The playmaker has made a contribution with two goals and four assists in his ten league games so far and become a key part of Rangers’ attack.
That has brought plenty of praise for the club’s support and Cantwell is already feeling a bond with fans that he says can only help him.
“I’ve just played the way I want to play,” he said. “I’ve worked the way I want to work and it’s fantastic to have that feeling the fans like you and they want you to be in the team.
“It is powerful for me, as a player, to have that sort of connection and it’s something that is definitely special about Rangers.”
Cantwell had fallen out of favour at Norwich and said that discussions with Rangers boss Beale about his role at Ibrox had been key to him making the move to Glasgow.
He says the liberty he has to affect the game from where he wants is an important part of how things have worked for him so far and believes he can get even better.
“The reason I came here was because of the manager really,” he said.
“I have a little bit more freedom and bits and pieces like that. It’s exactly what we planned for.
“I know that the best of me is still to come, but I’m enjoying myself at the moment.
“The manager has given me the freedom to play the way I want to play. I think you’re starting to see that at the moment where I’m starting to pick up the ball in lots of different places and try and contribute to the team.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself. The size of the club is massive and the responsibility is something you only hear about.
“You feel it now that I’m here and I’ve settled. I’m really enjoying myself, I’m really enjoying playing at Ibrox and really enjoying the responsibility that’s on my shoulders at the moment.”
Though Rangers’ hopes of pushing Celtic for the title have slipped further since Cantwell arrived, the team is still intent on making a successful defence of the Scottish Cup. They go up against their city rivals next weekend, having lost 3-2 at Celtic Park when the teams last met.
After that result, Cantwell attracted plenty of attention after a social media post that said Celtic “didn’t win” the game. He later said there was no disrespect intended by the comment and now says the reaction is just part of being online.
“For context, it was more our mistakes I felt gave them the win,” he explained. “I felt that was quite obvious but it’s quite easy for people on Twitter to have their fun with.
“The fans were obviously disappointed with the result, as we were. For me, as a player, I just wanted to make sure that I hadn’t gone silent and have a ‘we didn’t win so I won’t say anything’ attitude.
“Win, lose or draw, I think you should always interact with the fans.
“The backlash doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t faze me at all. It’s easy to sit here and say but if it really bothered me I wouldn’t have posted in the first place.
“Social media is an interesting place but there’s a lot of people who make a living off just quoting little bits and pieces. If you don’t say anything then you’re hiding and not interested, if you do say something it’s the wrong thing to say.”
Now, the 25-year-old is focused on a strong end to the season, beginning with Sunday’s trip to play Aberdeen at Pittodrie. He’s been enjoying linking up with Nicolas Raskin and Malik Tillman to make things happen for the team, and says that can develop the more chances they are given to link up.
“I think we can be really good together,” he said. “We get on off the pitch, which is important. We haven’t had loads of opportunities to play with each other but I think with each game we’re looking stronger.
“At times we’ve got to take a little more ownership on dictating games ourselves and we all like to play together so we’ve got to show that and give the belief to the manager in that sense.”