Saturday, 8 August 2015

The best football at Ibrox since Advocaat

Three competitive matches – three (poor) goals conceded.

Twelve scored. That is a full dozen. Rangers, against fellow title rivals St Mirren and Hibernian have already managed nine goals, with that other three against Peterhead.

To say this Rangers team is starting to look like the real deal is the understatement of the year. 49,216 fans (including a few hundred Buddies) packed out a completely full Ibrox stadium to witness the Mark Warburton era deliver on its pre-season promise and provide a scintillating 90 minutes where it put its money where its mouth has been.

Pre-season is always an odd animal, one where fans are rarely able to accurately judge the merits of a team based on those friendly results. Even here, where two completely valid competitive matches were played in the normal pre-season period, there was doubt as to how accurately pummelling Hibernian and dispatching Peterhead actually reflected the progress Warburton has made.

League business is always such a different animal. But after 25 minutes of non-stop Rangers pressure including two excellent goals from captain Lee Wallace (who was absolutely colossal, incidentally), it was evident the promise was translating over to delivery.

This site said, and I quote:

"The only glitch is that slow starting – but even that is showing signs of getting better. Versus Hibs it took 30 minutes to start to click, and strictly speaking Tavernier’s brilliant equaliser. Then v Peterhead it more or less clicked from the start, but the home side just could not finish. The hope is when St Mirren come to Govan on Friday, that will progress further to managing a goal or two which will confirm superiority, rather than just possession and shots."

It did. Finally those fast starts are being rewarded with what they deserve – goals. Yes, St Mirren got one back quickly thanks to a defensive lapse, and yes they really should have equalised when Tavernier clumsily felled McMullan in the box. Captain Steven Thompson’s penalty was something beyond abysmal.

But when Dean Shiels put the third away late on, it was a more accurate reflection of Rangers’ vast superiority over the 90 minutes. 63% home possession sums that up, along with 25 shots, 10 of which were on target.

Rangers dominated this match, and fully deserved their victory – the quality of play was frankly outstanding, and that off-ball running, pressing, one-twos, individual skill and overall unity appears to be growing with every match. It is easily the best quality of play Rangers have performed since the days of the Little General, with compression in midfield, marauding wingplay, threaded defence-splitting passes and shot after shot.

Yes, there was a bit of a lull after Howieson made it 2-1, and Rangers did rather fail to rediscover the overall rhythm as fluidly as before, but St Mirren, those two chances aside, just were not in this match and the Ibrox men were frankly comfortable.

If this is only going to get better, Rangers fans are in for a treat this season.

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