Rangers, friendlies, and the SPL title

 Article by: Ibrox Noise

Knee jerk reactions are bad. Last summer we saw the likes of Joey Barton, Philippe Senderos, Jordan Rossiter and Niko Kranjcar arrive at Ibrox and we allowed ourselves to buy into the idea our side was in with a sniff of the title.

I mean, when you look at the calibre of player on paper that was now on Rangers’ books, it was not a completely insane notion. However, being completely routed by Burnley with a number of these new players in the team was a damning omen to the disappointing season Rangers would have before Mark Warburton packed up his stuff and exited by the back door.

And if we had only gone with the likes of Niederkorn, The New Saints, St Johnstone et al in terms of this pre-season, signs would be looking something below ominous too.

But over the past three friendlies, against three of the best teams Rangers have faced over the past half decade, there seems to be a truly unexpected and borderline seismic shift in the direction of competence.

Disclaimer – we do not think the job is done, and we do not think we are back to being as good as the Rangers we expect. We also do not ‘expect’ the title.

But… the difference the likes of Graham Dorrans, Ryan Jack, Daniel Candeias and Bruno Alves are making to the core of this team cannot be overstated – they are only friendlies, but if we had lost them all 5-0 fans would be in meltdown saying the team was a joke. Just like we all did when we imploded in Luxembourg.

Equally we have to praise what is happening in the event of winning two of them, and gaining a very credible draw in the other.  Somehow it really is clicking – after a stuttering slow start, Pedro Caixinha seems to have settled on a 4-4-2 and the base spine of his team (Alves, Cardoso, Jack, Dorrans and Candeias) is making a big, big difference to how matches are going.

I am not going to say this is as good as a Rangers team should be, but it is a hell of a lot more like one than the dross we have suffered under McCoist, Warburton and initially, Pedro with Warburton’s squad.

Now Pedro has brought in his own men and full credit to the man, he really does seem to be turning a mini fan meltdown around and is getting more and more fans onside. Including yours truly.

We see what he is trying to do – an old-school formation with strong and reliable leaders down its middle while Candeias tears up the right wing and Herrera pressurises defences.

And yes yes yes! We get it! “These were only friendlies“. But going to Hillsborough and frankly strolling to a comfortable win over a strong Championship side on their patch is unheard of over this recent disappointing era at Ibrox. Just like at Watford, and just like when we hosted Marseille.

This team looks like it actually believes in itself, and each player understands their role.

However, we must urge just that little bit of caution. Before we all get too excited, we have had false dawns before – think back to Easter road in July 2015. We honestly though we had it made that day. Equally Easter Road under McCall made us think we might just get out this pit too. Alas we did not.

So let us not assume it is all sorted.

But we have managed to turn a potential corner right on time for the opening match of the season at Fir Park – and that is the litmus test of progress. If we can travel up to Steve Robinson’s men and produce the quality of display in a hard-fought competitive environment that we have in our last three outings, we might just be able to believe this team is on the right track.

If Hamilton opening day of last season was an accurate forecast of the season ahead, then Motherwell could well be too.

The signs are amazingly better than they were after that dismal loss to St Johnstone. But we need to take it into the action that matters.

Pedro, you are on the right track mate. The players are really looking the part as things stand and momentum has suddenly swayed our way.

Let us pray it keeps doing so.


  1. Couldn't agree more. We got beat from a part time mob when we had about 8 new players playing who only met the week before. They got hung for it and probably rightly so but every fan who uttered the words "sack pedro" should really be ashamed. Thats not what we do. Defo not in a pre season.

    Im delighted to read this positive atticle and see our fans strating to believe again.

    We have some really nice partnerships growing. Experienced centre half Alves with a young Cardoso. Dorrans and Jack looked like they have played together for 5 seasond. Candias has pace to burn and he uses it to not only attack but just as importantly close down when not in posession. Herrera puts in some shift up front. If he starts scoring goals he'll be loved by all. Rangers fans love to see some fight and the big man loves it.

    Now we have that strength in the spine of the team we will see fringe players relax and have more confidence. Windass and Tav in our last few games have played weel. Imo thats because they feel more relaxed and confident. Im sure we will see more of this.

    And not to mention the players who didnt start.. Niko, Rossiter, Peña, Tav plus i still have high hopes for young Morelos

    All in all. Its day and night from 2 weeks ago.

    Good article lads. Lets get behind our team and aim for the stars. Dont be scared to say you want the title. I fuckin do. Nothing else is good enough. Thats how we were raised. I wont be calling for pedro to get sacked if we dont but I FUCKING WANT IT lol.


  2. Very cautious optimism, we certainly don't look so easy to score against. However we still don't pose enough of a threat at the other end either. I say use Holt as a sweetener for Walker. Then I think we will create more and give us better balance.

  3. Another good performance yesterday and very encouraging – but let's not get carried away. The second goal came just at the right time and against the run of play as Wednesday had started the second half on the front foot.
    The presence of Alves in defense is massive, and Jack just in front of the back four was a revelation – with Dorrans giving the midfield some forward momentum. We don't have strength in depth at this moment – so keeping this trio fit over the season is key to how we will do.
    Although we are at least now starting to score from open play – goals and the forward area remains our problem. Candieas was impressive for 45 mins and then faded badly, while Herrera is strong – holding of the defender to create the space for our second goal – and puts himself about – he is not a prolific goal scorer. This leaves Miller to dig out a goal or two as was the case last season. Morelos looks very raw and out his depth.
    Sunday also put some myths regularly promoted by Ibrox Noise to bed. Hodson is not a better defender than Tavanier and provides nothing going forward. He is an average defender and accident prone. It is no accident that he has only looked the part with Tavenier in front of him. Wallace was superb on Sunday in defense and attack, and on his game there is no finer full back in the league.
    Dreamland I know but if King could dig into that inheritance and add McGregor, Walker and Naismith before the window shuts – then we might just cause Rodgers a few sleepless nights.

    • We agree 100% on everything else, but we saw two different things on the left and right yesterday mate:)). Before yesterday I would say the same about Hodson…he's received too much praise in the past 6-9 months largely (IMO) because he wasn't Tavernier. But I was impressed with him yesterday. He's not someone that'll offer anything going forward, I agree, although tbh I don't want him to do anything going forward. I'd like us to stick with this 4-4-2 and let the full-backs perform their most important role of defending. Having said that, one decent game doesn't prove Hodson is up to it, but I'd be willing to give him a chance until the next window comes around. Wallace, on the other hand, is good going forward. But I find him to be vulnerable defensively. I don't know how tall he is, but he seems to move awkwardly and seems slow at adjusting his body. Maybe he's low on confidence too, I don't know. I certainly respect Wallace and like him a lot, but he's been below-par for a long time IMHO. I'd rate Graeme Shinnie and Lewis Stevenson as being better left-backs than Wallace at the moment. Just my humble opinion though, and I know many disagree.

  4. It's not so much that they're friendlies, it's that in competitive games we'll be up against 2 banks of 4 in most games. That will be the real test.

  5. These fans who are shouting about winning things after some friendlies have got their head in the sand and are embarrassing us,plus the teams we have played are not up to full strength yet and they treat the games for what they are,to get match fit,we have improved and i put that down to what i have been on here before saying 4 4 2, but wait to see what happens when teams put ten men behind the ball, we have always been a side that finds that hard to break down maybe it will be different under pedro, and some of the comments about certain players are just over the top, one good game does not make windass a player but give the guy 10 games if he doesn't perform fine move on,garner was another one who was getting the flak he's scored six goals already pre season for ipswich, it's time for some of our fans to get a life,i am not a twitter person but i read some of the comments and some of the stuff said about players wearing the light blue shirt by our own fans are disgusting.

    • As much or better up to speed than us? Did you watch the marseille and wednesday games?? Dont forget were not at full speed more to come yet!! Are we going to win the league ??? Well being a rangers fan i always think yes with my heart but truthfully i dont know? if we quietly get on with it and celtic keep the same attitude that nobody can beat them then maybe just maybe yes we can but long way to go.

  6. It's good to see it coming together but like you said there is still alot of work to do. Celtic are still a few season ahead of us but I feel they are riding a wave at the moment and hopefully it will end when they suffer a defeat. That will be key.

    It frustrates me looking at the past 3 games, imagine how different our European campaign would have been had we been starting qualifiers now.

  7. Totally agree but it's all about Sunday……..good performance and result in a real game is required 🤞👍🇬🇧

  8. Excellent article. I keep reminding myself too that "they were only friendlies", but I just sense – WE just sense – something really good is happening.

    Straight through the middle of the team, two partnerships stick out – Alves/Cardoso and Jack/Dorrans. Outstanding. Only friendlies, but for these guys to hit it off so quickly is impressive. There is a chemistry between these players already. Before we signed him, I had doubts about Alves, but the man is a class act, plain and simple. He sees things 2 seconds before anyone else does.

    Ryan Jack – if he played a game like that in the EPL, the English media would be calling him The New Kante. He pops up everywhere, and again seems to see danger before anyone else does. He also calms play down when we're under pressure, and you can see the ripple-effect spread throughout the team when he takes the game by the scruff of the neck.

    Candeias – class act. Windass – as I've said for months now, the boy is quality; if he's played in that position, he will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Hodson was superb at RB and stakes a claim for a starting berth there. Dorrans, brilliant. Even Wes looked more assured yesterday…for once, he came off his line at the right times and his distribution was good (granted, he didn't have alot to do in the game).

    I know they were only friendlies, but yesterday we again saw two weaknesses in the team – Wallace/LB, and up front. I still feel we're too light up front. Walker would be great ammo, but we also need an out-and-out striker IMO. A versatile defender who can cover RB/CB/LB wouldn't be a bad shout either.

    I have not looked forward to a season of football for many a year. We bossed that game yesterday. Sheff Wed looked dangerous for about 5 mins in the first half, and 5 minutes in the second. And on each occasion (when they were in the ascendency), it was the likes of Alves, Jack and Dorrans who stamped their authority on the game and swung possession back in our favour. I'm seeing leaders on the field for the first time in years; that's the biggest thing I take from these friendlies.

    • I like what you say, I agree with most of your assessment and opinions. I suggested last season when Wallace was out injured, although young Beerman showed excellent promise, that we already have a very good left-footed defender who can cover the CB and I think the LB position too. He might not be up to bombing down the flanks like Wallace does, but he can tackle, is moderately good in the air, which Wallace is not and is good positionally. Danny Wilson. Food for thought?

  9. Good, realistic and feet on the ground article. Signs have been encouraging, but as what I have previously said, we need solid cover for Alves because our defence will crumble this season if anything happens to him! Alves was colossal in defence in all 3 friendlies and it frightens me that we only have Wilson, Bates and McCrorie to cover him? They are just not good enough.

    • problem is who is going to sign that is quality knowing that they are third choice for two CB positions? therefor not being a regular starter?

    • I don't believe in certain starters Brian, every player should have the same opportunity in training and in games to merit the jersey in the first place. So who's there to challenge Alves for a place?, No competition.
      Therefore, Johan Djourou is a free agent, strong centre half with 67 Swiss Caps, solid player. Take Wilson, Bates and McCrorie, off the wage bill, bring in Djourou and another to strengthen the rear guard. As it stands just now, without Alves, we are weak at the back.

    • agree with what u are saying…and maybe Djouro would be the way, But I would like to keep McCrorie he can play Right
      FB as well as CH and has a bit of class about him.

  10. the last 8 days have been a great improvement BUT still have concerns particularly up front. However looks as though we have a solid defense….still think Miller is a rubber man.. ball bounces off him regularly and although to his credit he can still score goals we need someone else in his position behind Herrera. Maybe Morelos will come good…maybe Windass in that role with Kranjcar back in midfield?? Walker would defo be a great assest and have yet to see Pena perform. But way better than 10 days ago.

  11. It was always going to take time. But the change in tactics is the main thing for me. 442 vs a powderpuff 433. I watched the 1st half of Monaco vs psg on sat night. Ironically it was 442 vs 433. Psg just couldn't get close to Monaco .. 433 only works if your Barca and have some of the best players in the world, it won't work rangers and the players we can sign

  12. Its a good article to make us all think , but try to keep our feet on the ground here its early days .. It was a good performance against a good Sheff Wed side If we can get results against Motherwell, Hibs and Hearts then we can get some real optimism .. September at Ibrox against the rotten mob will be the acid test . I like the balance of the team , but feel we need a little more aggression and more link up play up front, that may yet come Bring it On WATP

  13. The last few friendlies have given a much needed confidence boost but if the same anemic performance returns at Fir Park on Sunday then we're back at square one- the jury remains out on Pedro. Bruno and Dorrans have clearly made a huge difference on and off the park and seem to be a class above the rest of the squad, which bodes well for the future.

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