Sun, signings and Stevie G: Rangers recharge in Tenerife
STV's Oliver Dickinson goes behind the scenes at Rangers' winter training camp.
It's easy to see why Rangers picked Tenerife as their warm weather winter training destination. It's far enough away to feel like an adventure, close enough to be practical, hot enough to be different, not hot enough to be uncomfortable.
The city itself is the same as most Spanish resort destinations - a mixture of British and Irish bars and pubs, steak houses and Chinese restaurants back on to long sandy beaches and walkways lined with palm trees.
The break comes at a critical time for the squad, even if they won't be spending much if any time walking the beaches and sitting around the pubs. They have fought their way to be level on points with Celtic at the top of the table (although Celtic has a game in hand). If the team is to challenge for the title, this opportunity to recharge and refocus needs to be seized.
Walking around Costa Adeje there are plenty of fans in Rangers tops. On the plane over to Spain, a wide-eyed youngster in the row behind asked his dad about 20 times whether manager Steven Gerrard would be in the city when they arrived. Gerrard may have proven himself popular with fans, but it's still surprising how many people have decided to build their holiday around the Rangers training camp.
The bars down by the beach are full of football fans wearing a huge variety of jerseys, living in some sort of sunshine-fuelled harmony. The training base where the squad will spend the week is along the coast. Set against the traditional whitewashed stone buildings and rugged hillsides, the training facility, with its tall metal floodlights, contemporary buildings and high-wire fencing stands out among its surroundings. The futuristic-looking facility has a smooth green pitch almost like a bowling green, desperate for football to be played on it.
As other clubs look to bed in new signings and teammates get to know their new colleagues, Rangers have a different task. Many have come and gone from the club since new signing (and former Rangers skipper) Steven Davis was last here, but with more than 200 appearances with Rangers, he knows all about high expectations.
As he arrived to join the team Monday, a throng of Rangers fans made their way to the airport hoping for a glimpse. Others coming and going on their holiday must have wondered what was going on - one confused husband told his wife "there must be a pop star or something."
The other big signing - Jermaine Defoe - might be a fresh face but his record speaks for itself. As midfielder Scott Arfield noted, many, including the manager, have played alongside or against the England striker.
Gerrard said the 36-year-old Defoe is in a "very young body" and in "fantastic shape." He seems genuinely excited to add the striker and former teammate to his squad.
Away from the pitch, the players are being well looked after. Their hotel is the kind of place you'd use as a backdrop for a glossy magazine shoot or a music video. It's glamorous and relaxing - exactly the kind of place you'd expect to find a top football team recharging their batteries after a long first half of the season (journalists are kept in slightly more austere surroundings about 20 minutes away).
Perhaps it's the sunshine, but everyone seems more relaxed, the mood is focused but lighter. The players seem to be enjoying themselves, walking around laughing and joking.
They'd best enjoy it while they can. They'll crash back into action against Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup tie on January 18 before facing a resurgent Kilmarnock squad in the Premiership on January 23.