Monday, 7 August 2017

Opening day at Motherwell; analysing the Rangers

 Article by: Ibrox Noise

My colleague Greg Roots yesterday provided a constructive and analytical piece covering his thoughts on the opening match of Rangers’ season. It was fairly positive and I wanted to add some further site ideas into the mix.

There was a lot of hype about this fixture – it was Rangers’ first competitive outing since the Niederkorn disaster, and despite the progressively improving friendly performances and results, the real litmus test was the bread and butter of the SPL.

Motherwell remain a side expected to contend for relegation, despite their summer overhaul, and Rangers’ travels to such grounds over recent times have not been terribly inspiring – Pedro Caixinha, the players and us fans were hoping yesterday would buck that trend and give us a lot of uplift.

Well, it would be pessimistic fabrication of the worst degree to suggest it was a dreadful match filled with problems – it was indeed hardly a smooth win, with more than a few problems in there too, but a win it was on the opening day which showed character on the players’ parts and some good tactical alteration by Pedro who is learning on the job.

The first non-surprise was the line up – exactly as we predicted, it was the same XI who turned out at Hillsborough, in the same formation. Yours truly and presumably the majority of the rest of the support would have been fairly happy with that, even if there were still complaints (for which the site got abuse for pointing out recently) that Miller started.

The first five minutes were a mess. The match had no rhythm, went at a hundred miles an hour, and many of Rangers’ players, particularly those who were unfamiliar with our game, were caught out. The opening minutes, from both sides, but playing into Motherwell’s hands nicely, were extremely scrappy and the outstanding Graham Dorrans’ opener on five minutes helped massively to settle the visitors.

For the next 25 or so minutes we watched some great terrific football from Rangers – some immaculate and penetrative runs especially from Josh Windass who was tearing the field up and continuing his impressive pre-season form.

As mentioned Dorrans too was in scintillating form, seeing passes, flicking deftly, and making the sport look easy.

Unfortunately Rangers’ superiority did start to wane around 35 minutes. The game slowed and the visitors’ profligacy in front of goal could have been more costly than it thankfully was. Too many wasted chances were disappointing to witness, and it is a problem Rangers have suffered in varying styles for some considerable time.

Under Warburton it was passing the ball to death before it all petered out with some insipid flubbed shot or the like. Now it was getting behind the defence and making the gilt edge chance before plain missing or cracking the post.

But the chances were being made – and while the form did fade a bit, the fact Rangers were cutting Motherwell open thanks to Windass, Dorrans and Wallace’s running showed there was more connection between wing and attack.

Gone are the days of McKay running left of the box before cutting back and passing inside or behind. Now it is quicker, sharper, and it gets to the point more efficiently. It just misses it a bit too much.

Rangers need a big goalscorer. A reliable 25+ a season man – of what we have seen from Morelos, he is not the answer and is plain struggling to settle in. Hopefully time solves that one and he starts banging them in to resolve the problem, but till then Rangers are not really starting with a single truly reliable striker.

Midfield though is coming together. Ryan Jack had a quieter game than he has had recently, with much of it passing him by, and even nearly costing his team a goal, but he still looks solid and reliable. This just was not his finest performance in the jersey, but we know he can do much better so one quieter match with no cost is not too worrisome.

Dorrans we have discussed already – a complete bargain and the signing of the summer. We stated that a few week sago and we are saying it again – and this match proved it. But his fellow summer marquee signing, Bruno Alves, maybe did not sparkle as much as hoped. Defence still looks shaky, and there was a glaring feeling the ex-Porto man was quite simply caught out by the pace of the game. He was not awful, but he has been better for us already and we hope this was a quick learning curve – his loss of position for Moult’s early effort was disappointing and a player of his class will certainly regroup for the next match.

But the fullbacks were terrible. Wallace’s running forward was good, even if his crossing was not, but he and Hodson’s defending was AWOL. Rangers’ defence, going by this match alone, remains as vulnerable as it was last season and the same concerns fans have cited on the site continue to be 100% valid.

Pedro though must be applauded for the switch to three. He has done it before to good effect, and he has done well to work on both that and the 4-4-2 in training to deliver either one as and when needed. And he was justified with all his selections yesterday even if it was not a truly convincing opening match.

Other players fans have been reacting to are Candeias and Herrera. Candeias seem to be dividing the support – his running and effort are impressive, but his defending seems non-existent and his final ball a bit mediocre. One hopes he adjusts to the tempo as he does seem to have a bit of fight about him. Meanwhile Herrera is struggling – in all fairness his CV has no record of scoring worth talking about, but the pressing he produced in the friendlies was gone yesterday and I can barely remember him producing much of anything really.

Lastly Morelos managed to get nutmegged by the air during his cameo – the kid is struggling badly and we await his adjusting to the expectations on him.

Overall it was a gritty match, a hard fought win which in truth could have gone either way. Foderingham, not having his best match, managed to save Rangers a couple of times nevertheless, and if not for better finishing from Moult, Cadden and the like, Rangers could easily have left Fir Park without a single point. Defensively Pedro needs to get his backline in order.

We want the winning mentality. Hopefully this is the first step to that being drummed in. But a lot of refining is still needed before we are convinced that the good signs from yesterday are here to stay and grow.


  1. I think it's harsh to expect our defence to carry that much weight given how much room Motherwell were given to play, it was for a lot of them their first taste and experience of Scottish football and that can only be a good thing, because as more games are under the belt, the better experience they'll get, therefore we should see improvement, no question.

    Is it honestly fair to judge Morelos? Not really, can't really say you've seen one proper game yet where he's started, until we see Morelos given the chance to start and play a full 90 minutes, then we can judge, hardly fair to judge a boy brought on like the 83rd minute or around that time of the game.

    People need to realise that this was the first taste of Scottish football for many of them as I say and with that as more games are under their belt, the more confident they will adapt to it, in fact I would imagine the passing will improve and will no doubt have better control over games the more time rolls on.

    Furthermore, if you're referring to Moult's chances? I couldn't really say that was Alves fault, you are right to point out about the full backs however, I don't fancy seeing Hodson at right back and therefore it is welcoming to see Tav back. Looking forward to seeing Niko, he will make a difference and yes, Windass tired himself out, so would be nice to see Walker in and who knows, maybe Moult?

  2. Think everyone needs to calm down for 10 mins. After Europe everyone was screaming for a new manager, then after the last 3 friendly we were gonna win the league. And now it's all bad again. At the end of the day we got the 3 points which is all that matters. If all the woodwork shots went in we no doubt we're gonna win the league, it's only the 1st game and most of the team were new. I saw an article yesterday about how it was risky for motherwell to start 5 new players, we actually staterd more at 6 and yet it didn't seem to be noticed. After a few more games if things look bad then we can worry, but if we can get to 5 games and 15 points then I'll be happy

  3. Buy moult, walker and a r back we will be ok

  4. For what it is worth I thought Kenny Miller was poor yesterday. his passing was found wanting on many occasions, silly passes given away. Out of position numerous times
    Wallace charged down the left put a terrific cross into the box and where was Kenny.
    I always thought when you played two upfront they help each other but should be there for balls coming in. Defo need to improve next week against Hibs.

  5. Further questions regarding Caixhina's man management skills after he unnecessarily castigated Windass publicly in his post-match interview highlighting his defensive lapses rather than his exhilarating first half display. A quiet word in his ear to remind him of his defensive duties would have sufficed. If as he had said earlier in the week Windass needs confidence then he has a strange way of helping him achieve it. Better he had used the time post-match to remind Herrera that as a Rangers centre forward he has a duty to attempt to score. In three games now I've watched him have a single solitary attempt on goal and that was yesterday's off target header. Worryingly also is Pena who at 3.5 million is still not deemed fit or acclimatised enough to get on the pitch - while our strategy of arguing over a few hundred for Dorrans arguably saw us exit Europe in embarrassment. I hope we are not seeing signs here of one rule for Pedro's boys and another for the rest of the squad.

  6. We still need to spend money to be challenging at the top. It's as simple as that! If we don't we will not move forward as quick as hoped. Striker. Two wing back. Good solid defender. Is it too late oswap keepers also? I think so!

  7. We have just sold a player to ipswich and loaned another one to st johnstone and are now about to sell another one to ipswich and all three of them can score goals,people are too quick to slag off players,playing the lone striker system is a no no for me,the 4 4 2 system would have garner and waghorn scoring goals,yesterdays game was not brilliant but it was better there's more energy in the team,we have to give the new players a chance to get used to the pace,

  8. We need JW or we will only be in top 3 or 4 that game showed us we are not as good as we thought we need hearts JW in so pay the price and bring him in now.

  9. It was in parts not a bad opening game given the place and the expectations. The referee was poor he should have red carded Moult who is a hurly burly lad but lacked finesse. The Dorrans contribution was very good and bodes well for future displays . I think we look much more in control when we go 3 at the back > I would like to see Pena as his may fill the hole in front of Herrera who looks well off the pace Hibs will be a whole different thing Lenno will whip them into a frenzy for this game ....Bring it on

  10. Our Goalie sold the jersey for Well goal he does it all the time ...the defence have no confidence he will come and command his box... He is a good shot stopper is that enough???... The Flying Pig was the best but he too didn't come for cross balls too often... he did have Goughie tho !!!!

  11. We wont get the best out of Herrera until he gets another striker alongside him Miller is every where except where he should be, give Morelos a start alongside Herrera on Wednesday and lets see how that goes

  12. Somebody needs to tell Pedro to curtail his after game interviews. It's like he's reciting a chapter from War and Peace. It's boring, and the more he says the more he's likely to shoot himself in the foot. It's embarrassing. He's doing a reasonably good job now with the team performance on the pitch but his interviews are nearly as long as the game.

  13. I though it was a very average performance against relegation fodder.I suspect a lot of our away matches will end in draws again which will leave another substantial gap between us and Celtic. Moult looked poor and I believe we could do better than him how about that lad O'halloran who scored a peach for St Johnstone, oh wait I've just reolised. Do'h.


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