Tuesday, 22 August 2017

How Rangers fans were fooled

Few would argue Rangers are in a spot of bother right now – six competitive matches this season played and only one convincing win to a lower tier side to boast of has fans deeply concerned about the direction the club is going in.

Indeed, it is the lack of direction that is especially worrying.

During that ‘friendly three’ of a trio of inspiring results, a plan looked like it was materialising and the new 4-4-2 formation seemed to be clicking. It seemed like Rangers were tentatively taking their first steps on the right path and it bought under-fire manager Pedro Caixinha a great deal of slack.

Unfortunately for the Portuguese, the league displays have seen significant regression back into the hole Rangers appeared to be in following the likes of Niederkorn and The New Saints, not to mention the rather weak end to last season on top.

While there have been fleeting glimpses of some reasonable play (the fifth minute to the 25th at Fir Park was some good football) every single time it has petered away and struggled regardless of opposition.

And it really does show just what an illusion friendlies really are, how they fooled the lot of us, including yours truly. They are good for morale, and little more.

Following those wins over Watford and Wednesday, and that draw with Marseille, the difference in the competitive action by comparison was almost frightening. From the first 30 seconds at Fir Park, the pace was almost three times faster, the physicality unrecognisable in its ferocity and the play pure blood and thunder.

Rangers just could not get into the match in Motherwell till Dorrans opened the scoring, and when that goal settled the visitors down, we did play nifty football.

But as it faded, and ex-Rangers target Ben Heneghan equalised, the rest of the match was scrappy at best. Rangers got the win, barely, thanks to a well-taken Dorrans penalty, but it showed just what a fraud friendly wins really are.

It got little better against Hibs – some fans still make excuses with the Jack sending off, conveniently forgetting he played the full 90 v Hearts and that Hibs were the better team after their goal and well before he went for an early bath – but when yet more points were dropped against a dishevelled Gorgie side with no manager and neither of their marquee players having particularly good matches, the warning signs were getting louder.

Rangers’ league form is absolutely dreadful. There is sadly no getting away from that. Under Pedro Caixinha Rangers have won five league matches of a possible 13 – and with his own squad this season one of three. And following the misguided optimism we had after the friendlies, it is back to the drawing board when judging the serious action.

We must sincerely hope the manager figures something out before Sunday because more dropped points to a side as meagre as Ross County would be close to a crisis point. A draw is not good enough. And even now a convincing win would hardly persuade everyone that it is all fixed.

But it would give the manager and players a little breathing space.

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