An important pre-season for Rangers’ winger Michael O’Halloran

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It would not be the most unfair assessment to make of Michael O’Halloran last season that he did not quite live up to the hype of his transfer saga nor the value of his fee. Indeed, the winger struggled somewhat to adapt to Mark Warburton’s play style, and was frequently isolated in matches, with only the home fixture v St Mirren giving him a real chance to show his talent.

Many fans have given the former St Johnstone man a lot of slack, pointing to his lack of pre-season with his new team mates as a reason why he struggled. And it is certainly a fair point – having that critical six+ weeks in June/July to prepare for the new season and familiarise yourself with your new team mates, manager and tactical approach is extremely important to summer signings. It is a reason January captures do often struggle, as they do not benefit from what that preparation would have given them.

However, it is worth pointing out that O’Halloran still made plenty of appearances for Rangers, but unlike fellow January import Harry Forrester, did not manage at any point to really build up a head of steam.

Again, many look at the cup-tie problem MOH suffered; he was unable to play in any of Rangers’ Scottish Cup matches, something which did not hinder Forrester.

However, when Forrester’s engine got going as a late sub with the winning goal (curiously enough in the same match MOH stood out in), that engine remained motoring and the playmaker went from strength to strength, despite not starting every match. O’Halloran, on the other hand, was unable to retain momentum and found himself on the bench frequently, struggling to impact matches when he did come on.

There is no denying the 25-year old has talent – he shone at Ibrox for St Johnstone, and in little fits and starts has shown glances of his skill and pace. But there is that nagging feeling, one many fans have expressed, that he has not quite adjusted to Rangers’ possession-based dominance football, compared with Saints’ defensive counter-attacking play which thrived on his pace getting behind defenders.

The advantage this upcoming season is that he gets a full pre-season to make those adjustments to his style – one definitely senses if he can just modify his style to click with the tactical approach Warbs advocates, he could be a real weapon. He has the pace, he has skill, and he is of an age where he can still learn.

But competition for places has certainly hotted up, and wingers are not a rare commodity at Ibrox these days.

One thing is for sure; Warburton is thoroughly spoiled for choice in that position.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Ronaldo today complained that Iceland sat in and played on the counter. Rangers have had to deal with that week in week out and I totally agree with the smaller teams tactics as they have a chance to gain a point or all three.

    Michael O'Halloran has great pace but couldn't demonstrate his true potential due to two banks of four denying any space in behind.

    This will be his year to show what he's got with the prem teams opening up

  2. He will probably be more effective in away matches where he can use his pace – at Ibrox he will have to develop better touch and control than he has so far, when space is tighter

  3. I would like to see him used through the middlr, we have lots of terrific wingers but I can see him as a good goal getter with pace behind the defence, he was bought for pace and goals at St J so lets give him a go

  4. There is no doubt the boy has a huge talent and will come good given the right ammunition and support of which i don't believe was the case for most of the games he played in an example being, When on the right Tav who was always so direct at the start of the season had lost that spark and was cutting inside more often than not switching or slowing down the play when MOH was in space waiting for the pass or the ball over to run onto, more often than not that ball never arrived leaving him looking a bit frustrated with it all leading to him ball chasing of which did him no favors whatsoever, All this should be addressed when he has a Pre Season under his belt that gives him the chance to form a better understanding of how to operate within our system of play whether on the Right, left or through the middle. If this were to happen i would have no doubt the lad can & will go from strength to strength.

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