Saturday, 19 August 2017

4 points of a possible 9 - what now?

Ibrox Noise recently described Rangers’ start to the season as ‘patchy’. With mixed but increasingly impressive results in friendlies, we started to buy into Pedro Caixinha after the huge doubts we had previously had. But those were only friendlies – and competitive action for season 2017/2018 now sees six fixtures, three wins.

We do not want to be too critical or castigating of Caixinha, because while we were strongly against his appointment and had huge worries following last season and early pre-season, at the end of the day he is the Rangers manager and he is unlikely to go anywhere any time soon.

So he needs our support, just like the players.

The problem is the whole regime is becoming increasingly difficult to explicitly defend. There are some positives for sure; we have signed some theoretically half-decent players like Ryan Jack (who had a good match today), Graham Dorrans (not so good), and Bruno Alves (still not really impressive), and we are employing a proper Rangers formation in 4-4-2.

We also have the end of the retail stranglehold enforced by Ashley, so increased funds thanks to a spike in merchandising (even if shirts remain AWOL and will not be back in stock for reportedly two months), and the return home for a lot of our loved ex-players like Andy Little, Peter Lovenkrands, Jonatan Johansson and even Stephen Wright.

So it is not all doom and gloom.

But unfortunately the football and management of it simply is not convincing anyone, and Rangers now languish with only four points of a possible nine. Thankfully we did not lose a place in the table, but once again Pedro’s men struggled today (in a match we believe had massive significance) and this time was against a really, really poor team in which neither of their theoretical best players (Lafferty and Walker) remotely shone.

They bullied Rangers and strangled them, and while Windass received some harsh treatment, I can honestly say it is time to grow up over referees – this is the SPL and it has always been a clugathon. It is just that in this modern PC world with Rangers being away from this division for four seasons we seem to have forgotten that is what it is like.

And on a football level we are not back. We are miles off where we need to be and we currently barely contend for a top four slot. Hamilton today went to Easter Road and smashed them. Yet some Rangers fans still whine about the Jack sending off at Ibrox as if it cost us a win. What cost us the win today then?

The worrying aspect is the nitpicking. Instead of just accepting we are absolutely rubbish right now, some fans point to this event, that one, this call, that one, this miss, that one – they try to justify us and our inferiority by giving it extenuating circumstances – the simple harsh truth is how utterly bad we really are and it is not improving on any level.

Where that blame lies is anyone’s guess. Is it Pedro and his eccentric management? Is it the standard of player we have? Is it the spending power we have? Is it the board and their vision for how we proceed?

Whatever it is, sadly it does not seem to be getting resolved any time soon.

Inside five minutes of the opening fixture yours truly feared trouble. The difference between the friendlies and this serious competitive action had been a chasm – the impressive displays against Marseille etc an illusion – a slow-paced friendly is no substitute for serious action, and when five minutes had elapsed at Fir Park we looked shellshocked at the pace and the physicality.

We went onto win the match regardless and that was pleasing from a fight point of view, but with only one point since, it is becoming clear that this regime is struggling just like the last one did.

We shipped out the old rubbish and unfortunately we do not have the results or performances to show that the new players are a significant improvement. We are playing the same tripe Warburton forced us into – feeble tiki tika. Ineffective rambling play which has no cutting edge.

In theory Bruno Alves is a heck of an upgrade on Rob Kiernan – but alas the results simply do not reflect the supposed improvement.

Rangers simply seem to be continuing to go round in ever-decreasing circles and where the heck we go from here absolutely beyond me.

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