When Rangers appointed Steven Gerrard, his blurb was about high standards, about players who would be ready to fight, willing to be hungry.
He spoke extremely well and looked every inch a Rangers manager with the expectations he had.
It’s only one match, but we’re already worried if Steven Gerrard considered last night’s disappointing display against the Macedonian equivalent of Hibs (albeit their domestic league is miles worse than the SPL) even remotely ‘satisfying’.
Sure, he said ‘no more than satisfying’ and clarified:
“I thought we should have won it more comfortably by being a bit sharper in front of goal. We’ll take 2-0 but I’m slightly disappointed it wasn’t more comfortable.”
But then added:
“I thought the impact players were really good so, judging it, I’d probably say satisfactory. I’m very confident we can go over there and score goals to get the result.”
“We’re satisfied with the result and with parts of the performance.”
Sorry, but lots of us fans don’t share anything like this view.
Last night’s display was mostly poor. There were some fleeting chances, but the categorical difference between the Bury result and this one was night and day, as we feared. Neither goal was convincing – one a goalkeeping howler, the other a penalty that wasn’t – and the performance was lethargic, slow (especially into the second half), and at points in this match our ‘energetic, aggressive and hungry’ players appeared to have been fed tranquilisers.
Tactically it was a complete mess, in truth. It was billed as a 4-1-4-1 just like the Bury formation, but unlike that one Rangers found the going tough in a match that wasn’t a friendly – against opposition who had aggression compared with Bury who didn’t. The early goal against Bury settled us (the formation was initially fragmented and once or twice our backline was far too high and got totally exposed) and our guests then sat back and just let us have our way. Shkupi didn’t.
And frankly the big strong lads we’ve supposedly signed did not bully our opponents – it was exactly the same as last season.
Gerrard’s hands are behind his back in the window, so plenty of slack on his part for that, but for us to have nine new signings, start five (six if you count Murphy) and still play like last season is a really bad sign.
We can already hear the cries of ‘IT’S ONLY ONE MATCH, GIVE THEM TIME’ with accompanying ‘NEGATIVE P*SH’ (despite this site also being accused of pro-Rangers propaganda the past few months). Well we did that with Pedro in both his Progres shambles and the difficult Motherwell opener and look how that turned out. We just call it how it is and if it ain’t great, pray it turns around.
All we can say is we sure as hell hope the manager and players produce something a bit better in Macedonia on Tuesday or this team could face another early embarrassing European exit.
And that’s all we need.