Friday, 1 September 2017

Assessing Rangers' summer window; verdict

I was about to begin this piece by suggesting how eventful this summer transfer window had been, certainly in recent memory, but then one only has to look at 2016’s, 2015’s and 2012’s to know Rangers fans are depressingly used to our team being ripped up and started again because the last one did not work.

And this summer has seen exactly the same. If we look at the outgoing, it is an almost comical level of departure, highlighting just what a poor job Mark Warburton did of both building a team for the Championship with one eye on the SPL, then ripping it all up, trying again that following summer and making another mess of it.

This summer has seen the exits, of both loans and permanents of:

Clint Hill, Philippe Senderos, Rob Kiernan, Joe Garner, Jon Toral, Emerson Hyndman, Barrie McKay, Martyn Waghorn, Andy Halliday, Michael O’Halloran, Joe Dodoo and Harry Forrester.

Effectively an entire team.

The incomings have been:

Bruno Alves, Fabio Cardoso, Declan John, Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans, Daniel Candieas, Dalcio, Eduardo Herrera, Carlos Pena, Alfredo Morelos, and Aaron Nemane.

11 in, 12 out. Another summer of significant turnover.

How do we assess the players we brought in?

Alves has not quite set us on fire Carlos Cuellar style, and indeed has been exposed a few times, but quality is quality and he will surely get right up to speed soon enough. Some think he has been exceptional – we reluctantly disagree a tad.

We have been more impressed by Cardoso, whose positional sense, pace, energy and work rate have been excellent – he was a prized asset by former club Vitoria De Setubal and we can see why.

Ryan Jack has slowly grown into the role expected of him with increasing authority. He has been one of the stand out performers over the past two matches and we expect that trend to continue.

Graham Dorrans
initially looked the absolute part but has maybe been a little quieter over the last two fixtures. It was a complaint some Norwich fans had of him, that he could be a little anonymous at times. But when he has been on his game, his contribution is without question.

Daniel Candeias
has done better than many, including us, expected. While hardly Arjen Robben, he has worked hard, looked willing, and defended as well. He is a little inconsistent with his final ball though, but has a mean free kick.

has been axed from the match day squad through utter incompetence and few know why we brought him in.

has not stood out on any level, with a poor career scoring record. His enterprising displays in pre-season did not carry over to the SPL and he has been on the outside looking in more often than not. Hopefully his goal against County will kick him on.

Pena is one who still seems out of sorts and not ready yet to make an impression. He made little of one v County during his cameo.

Morelos has just got better and better. Props to Jonatan Johansson for scouting him and Pedro for trusting him. The Colombian striker is a natural born scorer and as long as Rangers make chances, he will bury them.

Naturally we cannot remotely say anything about the latest two, Nemane and John.

And of course no Steven Naismith, no Kenny McLean, no Louis Moult, and failure on deadline day to secure Jamie Walker when it seems Hearts became willing to deal once Rangers’ upped their offer to cash plus player.

Overall was it a good window? We would have to take the fifth on it. On paper we got a lot of shiny new players, yes, but central defence especially remains lacking depth, and we are a few quality wingers short too, while full back options are hardly inspiring.

But central midfield looks very promising, and attack definitely seems better with Morelos around.

The proof will be in the pudding. After the international break, Celtic aside, Rangers have a rather negotiable September. Partick Thistle, Hamilton and Dundee all lie in wait and those kind of fixtures are the winnable ones Rangers need nine points from in order to start climbing up the table. Hamilton away is the toughie, the New Douglas Park side having a fine start to the season with two wins from four and a very solid fourth place. Anything from the Old Firm clash is a bonus.

Once we are into October, where Rangers are and how September went will be pretty much the best clue about the prospects for the season. One brutal match, one tough one, one modest one and two theoretically ‘easy’ ones – a good selection of matches to identify where Rangers are going under Pedro.

We will know at about 10PM on the 29th of this month just what we have here.

Let us hope it is good.

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