Anything but Ace at Ventura County


The oldest cliché in the book
about friendlies is ‘they are only friendlies’. A chance for managers to
experiment, to tinker, to field new players and try different formations to see
what works, and what does not.
Last night Rangers took to the
‘field’ (and I use that term loosely) at Vermont
College, California as the USA tour began
in earnest. Playing on what looked more like a Grid Iron pitch complete with
pot-holes and touchlines, it is safe to say this was far from a normal friendly
against a team who currently ply their (amateur) trade in the fourth tier of
American ‘soccer’.
They are the American equivalent
of Glasgow Caledonian University’s
football team.
Before I continue, it is worth
pointing out Rangers’ pre-season started with a 3-0 victory over Buckie
Thistle, before downgrading to a struggled draw against Brora Rangers, and if
that pattern was to continue this one would end in a defeat.
But given the opposition was the
football equivalent of a Sunday League team’s reserves, that would not be a
problem for the Ibrox men…right?
Rangers started with a thoroughly
bizarre formation. Thankfully McCulloch was nowhere to be seen in the defence,
with a back three composed of new boys Marius Zaliukas and Darren McGregor
alongside Bilel Mohsni. They were complimented by Richard Foster and Lee
Wallace on the right and left wings respectively, but midfield was where things
got complicated.
McCulloch was here, well, he has
to start somewhere, right? He sat behind Ian Black & Nicky Law with Lewis
MacLeod ahead of all three in a curious type of ‘diamond’ formation while Kenny
Miller sat up front. Alone. Versus the might of Ventura County Fusion.
Effectively five defenders and
one up front against possibly the weakest side Rangers may ever have played. To
call this formation defeatist and laughable understates just how absolutely
bewildering it was.
90 minutes later and Rangers were
left reeling from a pitiful display where, having been defeated 3-1 by Ace
Ventura’s Pet Detectives, it dawned on everyone that the Ibrox giants mustered
literally two shots on target the entire night. One, a goal from Mohsni, the
other tipped round the post.
It is true that ‘friendlies do
not mean anything’. But only if you win. The older cliché ‘you learn more in
defeat than you do in victory’ is very true, especially in a friendly. And Rangers and Ally McCoist last night
learned that this team is currently beyond atrocious.
McCoist has to take a hell of a
lot of the blame. The formation was ridiculous, and his continued insistence on
starting McCulloch every match come rain or shine in whatever position is
starting to take on a slightly surreal feel of parody. When then-captain David
Weir went past his shelf life McCoist was quick to freeze him out – said player
left six months later. Yet McCulloch remains selected every match, giving one
the inescapable feeling he will play till he retires.
The formation itself of 3 at the
back with two flankers I actually like, but the mess in midfield where MacLeod
looked completely lost, Law had no impact and Black was anonymous was simply a
joke. And one up front? Beyond absurd.
McCoist is under huge pressure to
get it right next season. Rangers will not be facing part-time carpenters they
will easily roll over. Next season Rangers face real teams, and if the current
evidence of McCoist’s tactics and selections are anything representative of
what fans can expect, relegation, and not promotion is what the Club will
suffer in 2015.


  1. I am a Celtic Fan, living in Canada. I miss old firm games badly, and am anxiously waiting for their return to the SPL. I I can't comment on the quality or lack of that has been opposition so far during thi pre-season but I must remark that although I am a football fan living in Canada I had never heard of the Ottawa Fury. Rangers need to up their opponents, or they will in hard, once the real schedule begins in Scotland.

  2. never mind it will be all right on the night our fearless referees will not allow this type of freedom, opponent's will be called offside, when clean through on goal, and might even be sent off for dissent or some other reasons will be found to give the advantage back to the People!

  3. mcoist should more time on our defence rather than trying to defend the undefendable david murray im fed up of hearing him go on about murray lets face it we all know the score there how he can let this overpaid mob embarress us makes me so angry but lets face it he is overpaid as wellas his coaches

  4. does mcoist think putting up a smokescreen about murray will deflect us from that result against a reserve pub team he.s not on 800.000 a year hes as much to blame as the rest

  5. A bit early to sound the alarm bells no? Pre-season counts for nothing and in Zaliukas, Miller and Boyd there is enough been added to this team to go beyond the Championship, even with the Edinburgh giants around.

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