Sunday, 4 June 2017

Meet Rangers' new central defence; 99% done

It really has not taken Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha long to build a new central defence. Following hot on the heels of Portuguese international Bruno Alves’ switch from Italy to Glasgow, it has been widely reported today that his fellow countryman Fabio Cardoso is also set to seal his switch to Govan, in his case from Vitoria Setubal.

The reason this is of so much importance is Cardoso is a massive missing piece of the Rangers jigsaw which had started to become a growing issue over the last few days – with Danny Wilson out injured till August, and Hill, Philippe Senderos and Rob Kiernan no longer part of Rangers’ plans, it was left to David Bates as Alves’ only potential partner.

Finally Caixinha has nipped that issue in the bud with the acquisition of the 23-year old Cardoso, assuming he passes his medical over the next 24-48 hours, will become Ped’s third official summer recruit, forming the central defence Rangers have been seeking to build.

It really is the perfect blend of players – one older head, experienced, leader, strong, tough, the other being the younger foil, the follower, guided by the wily head, but not so young that they appear a rookie. It is how most great defences are built; Maldini and Nesta, then Nesta and Silva, Terry and Cahill, Godin and Savic; the list goes on.

Of recent seasons Rangers’ defence of Wilson and Kiernan was a disaster – Kiernan’s lack of ability only one part of this; instead the relative youth of both players was cancelling each other out and they just could not play together. Indeed, sources say Kiernan disliked playing with Wilson – one senses they did not get on.

But with Alves and Cardoso Rangers have the right build of defence now. Cardoso has come through all the Portuguese youth ranks for his national side, and like his fellow impending signing Dalcio was a product of the Benfica B system.

With plenty of experience of Portugal’s premier league, Cardoso is no weak signing, and is the perfect age for a foil of Alves’ stature. We naturally hope it works out as well on the pitch as it appears to fit on paper.

Many claimed Caixinha did not understand Rangers or Scottish football, including us, in truth, but the signs from this transfer window in which he is recruiting Rangers fans, Scottish football veterans, and high quality players from overseas does suggest he is either getting to grips with what is needed, or being better advised than he was.

It may be Jonatan Johansson, as his ‘local assistant’, is more than giving a helping hand here, and Rangers are seeing a lot of the right signings happening. Fans are far more optimistic now about chances next season, but then Pedro himself requires to get it right on the tactics board too. If the tail end of last season was a sampler, Pedro is the wrong man.

But with his own men now in place, and a backbone of carefully advised Scottish and Rangers-minded recruits, perhaps he will turn it round and give us something like the Rangers we expect. Going by this transfer window, it is the right direction.

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