Fixing the Football – 3 Simple Rules

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As much as it has been difficult
in the past 18 months to keep Ibrox business strictly to the pitch, when
commentary of that most fundamental
tenet of the club has taken place the overriding observation from supporters
has been of excruciating disappointment.
Ally McCoist’s men may have won
the Irn Bru Scottish Football League Third Division by a country mile, but not
with style. Quite simply the standard of football last season was generally
abysmal, and it took many months before Rangers even won away from home. By the
home straight the gap over Peterhead may have ended up at 26 points, but the
quality of football which propelled Govan’s finest to such heady heights did
not correlate.
At times, in fact it was abject,
with players underperforming, inadequate tactics, and a complete absence of
leadership. Let us take a look at each aspect here and examine how we would
envisage an improvement next season.
Underperformance.
One of the biggest crimes for
SPL-quality fare like Dean Shiels, David Templeton, Ian Black, Francisco
Sandaza and Kevin Kyle was to fail to display their prowess for the majority of
the season. Even veteran stalwarts like Lee McCulloch (despite his impressive
goal tally), Lee Wallace and Neil Alexander struggled in the bottom flight and
did not show why they were being paid £4000+ a week. Ian Black in particular
became a target for negative criticism; as an apparent dominating CM who could
control games, the problem was he failed to do so, being anonymous more often
than not. He was completely outclassed in the middle of the park by young 18
year old starlet Lewis MacLeod. Kyle Hutton is another who was posted missing
too often, 4 years MacLeod’s senior yet not in the same league of ability or
maturity.
It was not any better at the back;
Rangers’ defensive woes are becoming a story of legend now. With the tame
Argyriou and the meagre Cribari, not to mention the weak Perry, Rangers’
defence was a subject of constant criticism. As previously raised, even the
Scottish international left back Lee Wallace did not have a particularly
impressive season.
Up front was probably Rangers’
strongest area of performance, although the goals away from home took some time
to come by. Andrew Little, Barrie McKay, Lee McCulloch and David Templeton did
net a fair number of strikes even if the attacking quality was patchy.
The improvement we hope to
witness over the whole park is tenfold. We need a defence we can trust, and
with the signings of Ricky Foster and Steven Smith we now have some distinct
quality in the full back areas along with young Mitchell and aforementioned Lee
Wallace. Two decent CB’s are required to complete the job here.
In midfield McCoist has brought
in two notable midfielders in Honduran DM Arnold Peraltas and Englishman Nicky
Law; they have to contribute to a midfield which really struggled without
MacLeod last season, a midfield that requires to dominate games as it should.
And up front Nicky Clark has been
signed. The 40-goal man from Queen of the South will help add to the goals the
likes of Little and Templeton scored last season, meaning there really should
not be a shortage of firepower.
Tactics.
This is solely the area for Ally
McCoist, and there can be no blame on the part of anyone else if Rangers line
up at home with 5 in midfield and one up front. Especially if valid strikers
are unused on the bench. Without expressing arrogance, Rangers are the best
team in the division, and a Champions League-esque formation against East Fife or Stranraer, with all due respect to both, would
be completely unacceptable. McCoist now has a pretty rich squad, in terms of
the level Rangers are playing at. Aside some appalling injury or suspension
epidemic, one man up front is inexcusable this season.
The number of times McCoist
fielded one sole striker at home last season was bordering on farcical given he
had spare strikers on the bench. Rangers fans expect a lot more than this.
Without expecting play on the level of Bayern Munchen, free-flowing creative
football with the assets at our disposal seems a fairly reasonable request to
make.
Leadership.
A real problem last season was
the absence of leadership. McCulloch may have a great deal of support from
within the club and the fanbase, but he is not a good captain and was unable to
inspire his team mates – there was a lack of authoritive communication from
him, and that was mirrored elsewhere in the side. Defence in particular had
zero vocals being exchanged, despite the apparent ability of Cribari to speak
English. I mooted Wallace for a leadership role at the back, but unfortunately
he is no leader and you cannot always make a good commander from a soldier. Add
the final insult of Argyriou looking bewildered most of the time and leadership
was a scarce resource in all areas of the park.
Going by the rather assertive
personalities Rangers have signed, particularly in the colourful Nicky Law,
there may well now be some voices in the park who team mates can listen to. The
experienced Ricky Foster and Steven Smith at the back will also be able to lend
a hand to the younger ones in terms of instruction, and hopefully there will be
an end to the lack of rudder.
Pre-season is well underway and
2013/2014 is still some way off. But McCoist has hopefully identified the
weaknesses I have described from last season on the park and is putting into
effect his solution.
So far the signs are generally
quite positive – here is hoping that continues.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good piece though disagree with your thoughts on wallace's performances of the season he was a standout most games(in a poor side) and collected many mom awards otherwise spot on

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