Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Post-mortem - Rangers in crisis

 Article by: Ibrox Noise

Tonight’s Europa League humiliation has to go down as Rangers’ worst-ever result in Europe. Pedro Caixinha’s men were up against statistically speaking the tenth-worst team in any Uefa competition, with the tenth-worst co-efficient in the Europa League.

In 12 previous matches in European competition Progres Niederkorn had only ever scored a solitary goal. One. They had never won a single match at this level. In European terms they were the continental equivalent of Brechin City (no offence chaps).

And yet in one night they not only won their first-ever European match, but scored twice at this level inside 90 minutes for the first time for good measure too.

When one examines those facts, one has to conclude that this might not just be the worst European result in Rangers’ history, but close to their worst ever, period.

It was pretty evident on watching the first leg that Rangers were in trouble. They were up against a side who could barely string three passes together, yet were unable to put a single shot on target against them until Miller’s decent opener. It was from that goal onwards though that this tie went dreadfully downhill, and as Niko Kranjcar faded at Ibrox, the tie started to eke out of Rangers’ reach.

Ibrox Noise is not going to go as far as say we knew we would lose this tie – no one could have predicted that. But we were castigating of the performance in the first leg and it worried us deeply. It was evident that the players were not clicking, were not working, and simply appeared unable to play much in the way of effective football.

But for Kranjcar’s range passing, Rangers would have been without any creativity at all before the goal, and that was a threat Progres took note of smartly and suffocated him in the return.

But here we are, another disastrous 90 minutes under Pedro Caixinha and trying to sum up where Rangers are is something of a poisoned chalice.

But we shall give it a shot:

The board appointed the wrong man. We said it already several times, got hounded for saying it, got told to give him time, and we decided we had said our piece and que sera sera. Pedro Caixinha was a comical, weird, shocking and abysmal choice for Rangers manager – there appears absolutely no obvious reason for why such a completely inappropriate choice was made. We had a go at contriving one, with his Hispanic contacts meaning he could plunder the Latin market for players, but it was nothing we could prove. So yeah, Pedro Caixinha is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But that is not his fault – the board appointed him and they must take responsibility for this utterly curious appointment. Whoever ultimately is accountable for choosing Pedro must resign. He has managed to transcend every manager since Walter as being Rangers’ worst-ever but he did not choose himself.  He is out of his depth, unable to man-manage, has not a clue about Scottish football, and almost all his behaviours since being appointed have been at odds with what we know works at Ibrox.

And the men behind this choice are 100% at fault.

As for the players, well, where on earth do we start. Of what we witnessed in the debacle over the past week, only Cardoso and Jack appear decent signings. And by decent I mean ‘Hearts level’ decent. Carlos Cuellar and Barry Ferguson they are not. These guys are not traditional Rangers level, nowhere near, but both appear honest pros and certainly hold their heads higher than others.

Others like Alfredo Morelos. Oh boy. His pathetic cameo last week was a dreadful sign. As we called it, he looked lethargic, disinterested and immobile. Well tonight he was even worse. Inside 15 seconds a perfectly fair physical challenge had him decked, as if he could not cope with the sheer physicality of his opponent. He remained static for the rest of the first half and offered less than Franny Jeffers. We looked at his CV and thought we had an absolute belter of a striker. All I can say is the Finnish Premier League must be utterly dreadful if a player of that quality can bag so many goals.

Others like Daniel Candieas. A Benfica player who could not get a game for his club, who is essentially the Portuguese Michael O’Halloran. He is not diabolical but he does not fit into the team. Although in saying that, does anyone? He does not attack and he looked lost. He worryingly reminded me of Anestis Argyriou.

Others like Dalcio. Somehow this shambles of a winger managed to be even worse than the man he replaced in Morelos. He was feeble in the first leg, and hopeless in the second.

The quality of player in Rangers’ squad continues to bumble along. As one cycle of rot ends, another starts. We clear out Ally’s rubbish, Mark’s replaces it. We clear out his, now Pedro’s is the remains of the day.

Funny thing is on paper it was a half decent team – Rossiter finally starting, and a decent bank of three. Problem is football is not played on paper. It is played on grass. And once again Rangers’ ponderous, pedestrian, pathetic play took hold – we worried how these players would break out of the Bread Man’s programming, well, it seems Ped has the same obsession with playing this way.

And a word for Kranjcar. Gone was every ounce of ingenuity the Croat had at Ibrox. He produced nothing. Progres’ tactics may have played a part but Niko looked completely lost and his craft was absent.

So there you have it. The board appoint the wrong man, the wrong man cannot manage properly or sign quality, and the players are mid-table SPL level at best.

There can be no overreaction to this result. It was as bad as it is possible to be. Rangers right now are looking at being a bottom 6 team in the SPL. You may laugh at this, after all, how is that possible; well, how was losing to Progres possible? They are probably inferior to the whole SPL – they are around upper Scottish Championship level. Yet they deservedly won.

Rangers have opened themselves a whole world of trouble and your guess is as good as mine as to how this can be fixed.

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