Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Early season at Ibrox - report card


It is early in the season but us Rangers fans are a demanding lot so assessing things as they stand presently is not a complete fool’s errand.

We have had numerous pre-season friendlies, plus five competitive matches – a total, if we include all closed-door matches, of 12 fixtures. We have had moments, like the trio of ‘glamour friendlies’ where even this site was starting to buy into Pedro Caixinha and his vision of the squad, but we have had mixed performances elsewhere, hence taking a little look at the SP and trying to make sense of it all. We feel a dozen matches, friendlies or not, are a reasonable number to start from.

So, what is the overall picture? We would have to say, at this early stage, very patchy indeed.

Fan reaction to the loss against Hibernian has not been the generous ‘give it time’ response previously afforded, and the one the site expected.

Instead, many fans have voiced serious concerns both on our site and elsewhere about exactly what we saw on Saturday, and earlier optimism gained from results like a comfortable win over the Owls seems rather diminished.

A worrying concern is the fact that despite signing a new central defence, we appear exactly as frail as we did last season. Our goal difference backs this up – four scored, four conceded. As great as Fabio and Bruno looked in pre-season, and as in sync as the fullbacks started to seem at the same time, it has unravelled a touch and with only one truly convincing competitive performance so far of five (Dunfermline) there are a few concerns that defensively we remain utterly vulnerable at present.

To be constructive, it is a brand new defensive partnership which has only actually featured in three serious matches – if one area of the pitch requires continuity in order to gel, defence is certainly it. So while the pairing is looking curiously unconvincing, hopefully in time it will start to reassure. Ergo it is an entirely new defence – when you replace two defenders, you essentially start again – Lee Wallace, Lee Hodson and James Tavernier have a whole new ethos to learn, with new guys in the middle to work with. Hopefully in time it will begin to click.

Midfield is patchy – Ryan Jack has looked robust and reliable in some matches, but a bit quiet and anonymous in others. He has also allowed a couple of attacks to go right through him, and has been significantly at fault for a goal or two. He has worked hard to do his best, but as yet we have not seen him in full flow.

His partner Graham Dorrans has been mostly impeccable. A few fans felt he did not have his best match on Saturday but in general he has been the summer’s best signing. It is hard to fault his contribution and it feels ugly to be critical.

And the wings have seen some fluctuating displays. While Candeias works hard and gets the balls in, whether for lack of understanding or sheer inaccuracy, they often come to nothing. But he defends well and has formed a decent duo with Tavernier, and has a heck of a free kick on him – one direct goal and one assist is testament to this. We are not quite 100% convinced by him yet but it is early, of course.

On the other side Windass tears the pitch up like the hybrid son of Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi, then just disappears after 30 minutes. The lad needs to get his consistency up, because a match is 90 minutes long. It is pretty evident why we want Jamie Walker so badly. This is not to brutalise Windass – when he is good he is great; we just need more of that. The signing of Portuguese winger Dalcio currently appears a bad move altogether – now AWOL from match day squads, lambasted the few appearances he made, the young attacker has not started life well at Ibrox. But not every signing can work out and we definitely needed new blood on the wings.

And up front Alfredo Morelos is starting to look the business. Quite a tank (he is nicknamed Buffalo) he has strength and can hold play up. That scouting report published about him recently was surprisingly accurate. And the fact he is now freely scoring justifies Pedro’s faith in him. But his Mexican ‘partner’ (they have not actually properly played together yet) Eduardo Herrera has been a disappointment thus far. While he worked hard to impress in the friendlies, he appears out of sorts in the competitive matches. He does not score, he barely shoots, and one wonders if his role in the team is suiting him.

And of course Kenny Miller – the guy is in middling form (just one goal and one assist in five competitive outings), but when we dared to suggest this a while ago while actually defending his integrity, contribution and commitment to the cause, we got a lot of stick as a ‘hater’. We are far from that, and indeed have strongly preached his importance, but he does seem completely untouchable at present – for right or wrong.

And as for our manager? Well it is hard to know right now. We were convinced he was the wrong man previously, and when he started looking like he had a plan we allowed ourselves to buy into his ideas. We have not completely given up on those and we do like his willingness to play 4-4-2, but he is going to a back three in every match late on now, regardless of the score, apparently to ensure he gives Danny Wilson minutes. It seems a little unnecessary.

He does seem to have his men playing good football for 30 minutes but if/when there is a set back, it seems this Rangers team (and manager) have no answer – the fire in the bellies goes out, the fight extinguishes, and there is just no recovery. Many would point to the fact we won after a set back against Motherwell, and we did – but it was a penalty, and it was Motherwell. Still, there were signs in that one that we could fight back, and we have to hope Pedro can find a way to cultivate the good from that gritty response and make it tell for matches with greater gravity.

We should point out he has received a little stick from some quarters over his media performances. We will admit they are very… ‘different’ to what us Bears are used to. Different does not mean bad, but someone really should give him a few pointers as to more suitable comments at times.

Rangers right now generally are not really that far from where we were last season. We feel like we have better players, but the results are the end currency and sixth place with a 0 goal difference is not overly inspirational. In time the table will normalise, and Rangers should creep up, but there is a nagging feeling for every step forward we might take, we might end up going backwards with another.

A victory on Saturday, and a convincing one at that, would be a great help in settling things down. But the Jamie Walker circus will be the talk of the match, unfortunately.

There is something to work with here. There is. It is just whether the players and the manager can find the right formula to get this stuttering machine into proper action.

We hope they do.

12 comments:

  1. That's a very realistic and accurate summary of the 12 games played. I really do wish we were all looking to the remainder of the season with a lot more confidence, but there is much work to be done. On the plus side, Pedro seems confident of bringing in two or three more, so I'm happy to reserve judgement until this happens and they bed in.

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  2. Agree with everything you say. I really want this to work, my heart says yes its going to work, but unfortunately my head says no. I didn't like our tactics with 10 men on satarday.Either way we are still a lot better off than last season player wise. Once again satarday is a massive must win match or i fear the fans will turn on pedro. I live in hope. WATP

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  3. I cant disagree with anything you mentioned. I have done some research and this could be me putting 2 and 2 together but in the 2006 world cup Mexico had the 2nd smallest team in the whole competition. Herrera is supposed to be a large striker who can hold the ball up and be a target man. I havent seen him win many headers and he might have been good at holding the ball up in Mexico against the smaller midfielders (i assume Mexican teams still buy tall CBS) but in Scotland he doesnt look very tall and he is getting beat in the air everytime. He doesnt run and in the event that he did run he is super super slow. He doesnt get into shooting positions and to be honest we would have been smarter holding on to Garner. Pena looked as if he had never seen a football pitch before Saturday, I havent seen enough of him to comment further so the jury is out. The point i am trying to make is excluding these two Pedro has done a good job in the transfer window and did so very quickly. At this point in our rebuild i think we understand we cant be spending 5mil on players and if we do they should be investments. We lost money on the 1.8mil we spent on Garner and its looks like we could lose money and wages on Herrera. Lets hope Pena can show us something but i worry we have just thrown at least another 1.5 mil down the drain, possibly 4mil if Pena doesnt sort it out. that money could have bought us one or two really decent players. the transfer policy has to change and quick. We could make good profits on players if we just bought smarter, Celtic over the last 5 years have made a fortune on the players they have signed and they move on and do well in England with sell on percentages the money just keeps rolling in. Someone has got to get us working as a business the players we have spent money on wont offer any profit in the future. The players we sell we sell cheap and we are seen as a bargain shop for English championship teams. How will we ever return to the top with business management like this ?

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  4. Not convinced at all with Pedro's Tectical Nous - as we have yet to really see him change the team structure or personnel mid-match, and get positive results. As far as his media interviews go, there's far too much bullshit coming out of him, and I for one have no tolerance for this. This nonsense about never losing a game? WTF is that all about - it certainly felt like a loss to me at the weekend. Mad bastard, completely out of his depth.

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    1. :) Ha ha, love your last sentence. I'm growing to enjoy his mental statements. They're like a test for MENSA trying to work out what the hell he is on about. I am starting to think the BBC are printing them word for word just for badness.

      I'd rather he concentrated on the pitch-talk than the rhetoric. Still hopeful after Dunfermline and we are still bedding in. Would like to see Rossiter getting a run if Jack remains suspended.
      Saturday is huge (as is every game, of course).

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  5. Having made a genuine effort over recent times to identify any indication of a silver lining going forward after our recent horrendous and historically shameful results against the enemy and in Europe it has, unfortunately, reinforced my sincere conclusions that it is a blatantly obvious fact, to me at least, that this guy couldn't manage a fish supper and hasnt a scooby of how to change things during a match, totally clueless,

    We do have a better squad this season, but in reality, it appears, not that much better, although I am sure that given the quality in the current squad and if we had a manager (no one in particular) who actually comes from planet earth and has necessary experience and talent to manage a massive club like ours (appreciate that they are few and far between) we would be a guaranteed cert for second place at the very least, which is not the case today, is it?

    Sad truth is that common sense dictates that he wont be at Ibrox to bring in the new year because too many bears have had a belly full of his bullshit patter and pish results and will turn on him big time in the very near future and when that happens existing contracts etc. wont add up to diddly squat and he will be gone

    Unfortunately, if ever the writing was on the wall, IT,S NOW, so looks like back to the drawing board, AGAIN!

    WATP

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    1. Well said Big Man, love it!

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    2. I mate quality Rangers managers are defo few & far between I'm afraid.
      We have to give pedro time the team is still bedding in, hopefuly 2 more signings also, Walker & ?????
      In saying that he better have his fuking shit together before we play the unwashed next month!!!

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    3. Bang on Robbie, the game at home against the manky mob could, and most probably will, be the straw that breaks the camel's back and I suspect everyone at Ibrox, (including Ped) right down to Broxi Bear, knows that.

      I don't think (99.9%) this guy possesses the qualities to instill the confidence, bottle, or tactical planning required for this D day clash and every Gers player will, by that time, be a nervous wreck when they cross the line on the day and unfortunately looks like there's every chance we are going to get shafted at home again, simply because he has all the players wired to the moon

      I fully expect a wee bloke in a bunnet to enter the main door at Ibrox at 2 o,clock on Saturday 23rd Sept, bawling and shouting "TAXI FOR MR BEAN!"

      Negative comments indeed, but I do not dislike the guy personally, I couldn't give a monkeys funkies about him either way personally, I just think this guy should be as far away from Govan as possible and would be more suited to selling motors in his own gaff to muppets that take in his transparent bullshit patter than running our proud club

      WATP

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  6. "we want chewing gum, brown brogues and the same shite talking every other manager gives us"

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  7. Trouble is, it is starting to feel like Warburton mark2. Still at least it is keeping most fans away from the real issues that will start to come out very very soon with regard to our finances and it is not good news, not so strange is Mr King sudden disappearance again! J

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  8. Just read Big Tam73 last txt again, that was after the reported articles today from Ped about Porche cars owned ny his neighbours as he grew up, struck me that Big Tam is right, he is a nice guy, nothing against Ped, he just hasn't a clue, at least he ommitted the full Porche story, apparently the Porche was green and that was the reason he did not want one, seriously give us a break, he needs to go before xmas, that's my wish to santa before he destroys our club. *J

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