Sunday, 29 July 2018

Fifteen (yes, 15) things we noticed against Wigan...

Rangers’ final summer friendly before the entirely competitive action begins in earnest next week saw a comfortable win in a surprisingly tetchy afternoon at Ibrox where three goals and a few talking points were the name of the day.

Ibrox Noise takes you through the key issues we think we saw:

1: Rangers’ shape continues to evolve and sharpen under Steven Gerrard. The 4-1-4-1 has well and truly been abandoned in favour of a 4-3-3 for now, and it’s working quite well. The shape looked more coherent, less unnecessarily fluid, and players looked like they knew their roles, for the most part. Decent.

2: After being critical of management for playing 19-year old Ross McCrorie in defence last season, Steven Gerrard oddly slotted 19-year old Kyle Bradley in defence. And sadly the youngster drowned – in fairness to Gerrard he saw the problem and hooked him off at half time, but this was a sore one for the Academy graduate and he is not ready for this level yet. His heart was not in doubt, but his awareness, concentration, composure and reading of the game was completely underdeveloped for this kind of level. Whether he is good enough the youth coaches are better judges than us punters, but he certainly isn’t mentally ready just yet.

3: Greg Docherty had a mixed match – a disjointed first half in which he struggled to get involved at all, he improved massively in the second. He was playing in the advanced midfield position of Ryan Jack of recent weeks, and he barely touched the ball. The second half, however, was a massive step up from him, showing a bit more of what we know he can do. It may have also been due to…

4: The removal of young Bradley and introduction of colossal Croat Nikola Katic for the second half. This stabilised a slightly dysfunctional first half display and the midfield started to impose themselves much more. Almost like they trusted the rear with Katic far more.

5: Umar Sadiq enjoyed a very decent debut. A giant of a boy, he works hard, gets in good positions, and while he looks cumbersome, has neat touches and surprisingly good ball control and composure. We still can’t quite tell if his goal was his or an OG, but either way, a productive start. And it’s helped…

6: Alfredo Morelos a lot – the Colombian has had a rocket up his backside these past two matches and looks much hungrier, much more in tune, and while he still has his moments, he looks energised. He now knows there’s a real threat to his position in the form of the Nigerian, and he’s raising his level. Another fine goal for the ex-HJK man.

7: Andy Halliday, on the other hand, was pretty disastrous at left back. While Jon Flanagan didn’t have his best in Croatia, it was in a different league to the bombscare in the form of one of our own. LB just isn’t his position, and against an enterprising Wigan side, he was exposed almost as much as…

8: James Tavernier. Rangers’ captain continues to divide fans down the middle – his attacking play and assists rightly get praised, but his defending is starting to become a desperate problem. Always out of position, always outpaced, Tavernier seems to beat fullbacks with his legs in the opposing half, but their attackers frequently get the better of him. A dichotomy.

9: Glenn Middleton put in another outstanding shift. Rangers’ best player, the youngster has the lot, and looks like he has the ability to play for the country of his birth never mind Scotland. Pace to burn, trickiness, composure, a deadly cross and heart of a lion, this teenager is becoming something special and we have to say his manager is managing him well. Not too much pressure, giving him the taste, without burning him out, Middleton has the ability to go to the top of the game. Rangers have a player here who, if developed correctly and managed with care, could be worth beyond £10M in the future. We have to congratulate Mark Allen for picking him up.

10: Ross McCrorie had a far superior game with Docherty and Ejaria in support, than isolated as he was in the previous formation. Hungry, involved, and breaking up lots of attacks, McCrorie was far happier with company than on his lonesome. And speaking of Ejaria

11: We can’t quite decide about this lad. He clearly has ability, with a fluidity on the ball and a decent workrate, but that’s two matches in a row where he’s only been seen fleetingly rather than having a real impact on the match. Probably isn’t thrilled with playing deeper midfield mind you, after all he’s more of a 10 than a sort of 6 cum 8. Definitely needs a bit of nurturing though.

12: As does Ryan Kent. A bit disappointing in this one, he was really rather quiet during his cameo – maybe he wasn’t in the mood, but we need our players in the mood for every match. Kent has quality – we’ve seen that, and he definitely has the potential to excite, as Gerrard promises, but equally he is very raw and needs a polish.

13: Speaking of polish, Jamie Murphy is very, very rough at the moment. Got a cameo and did nothing with it other than wasting a golden chance, the one-time Scotland cap’s form of earlier this year is a distant memory and he looks a shadow of himself. Call us cynical old fools, but ever since he signed the permanent deal he’s been completely AWOL.

14: Meanwhile Candeias picked back up in this one – back to his normal RW position, the Portuguese looked hungry, quick, and was eager to make an impression. He has serious competition for his slot now, but looks like he’s up for the fight rather than sulking.

15: And Josh Windass’ complete absence from the squad was interesting. Not much more we can say about that!

A lot to chew through. What ones did you good folk note?


  1. I agree with pretty much everything you guys said. Andy Halliday should not be in the squad. He is not good enough to remove any of the midfielders playing in his position and he is no left back. It’s unfortunate that the experimental phase is over. I would like to see Murphy at left back and Middleton ahead of him. I hate to say this but on current form and possibly pure ability Jamie murphy just isn’t as good as middleton.

    I liked Docherty in the middle. Thought he played well and would like to see him play with Coulibaly. Docherty played his best football when goss was with him as a more defensive mind and that’s what Coulibaly is. I think Arfield/Ejaria Coulibaly and Docherty/McCrorie would be an epic midfield.

    I thought tav did ok today and maybe that had more to do with the tav/Candeias partnership returning. However it has to be said Katic and Goldson seem the real deal. Dare I say a partnership of old. And for 3 million we had a steal. Should we be unfortunate enough to lose him I think we have already doubled our money.

    I have to say again Middleton was man of the match and we have a player on our hands. Maybe I’m rushing into things but I think he has to play... even at the expense of Murphy and I hope that’s why he got 90 mins today. As far as I can see Middleton beats Candeias murphy and Kent to a starting position.

  2. Good observations but I’m not reading too much into today’s game. Sandwiched between a tough away qualifier where a lot of energy was spent and the home tie where we must play aggressively at high tempo.

    It’s still very early days but for me it’s another win, no goals conceded and we perhaps put some in the shop window whilst giving the legs that needed it, the rest.

    All in a good day and building.

  3. I would cut young Bradley some slack.Good to see Kelly out there.It's such a big transition for these lads.Competition for places might see a few players become strangers.With Middleton looking very strong on the left we might be looking at Candeias, Murphy or Kent fighting for the right wing jersey. Tavernier out their with Flanagan at RB while bringing in a new top class LB might be the shrewdest move of all.

  4. To think how young the team that started was is just great. Appart from Halliday (who’s never gonna be there next week) or Candeias (who showed why he was the top assist player last season with such a great cross) I’m sure anwick was the oldest starter at 25/26??. The 3 in the centre of midfield are all 21 or under, and both strikers were 21/22. If we can build this core over the next couple of years we could actually have years wth this team at the top

  5. When Steven gerrard came in his first job was to sort out a terrible defence. He said that himself. Might be wrong (big Jim smart arse) but 5 clean sheets in a row against some decent opposition tells a story. Long way to go but the man and his staff know what they are doing and within 2 windows we could have a team worthy of the shirt at last πŸ‘πŸ»

  6. good workout we look very strong so many players fighting for a chance to shine thought young docherty came
    to a good game middleton was superb

  7. Not sure about the comment regarding Tav? Outpaced? I think out of position is fair but I don’t think I have seen anyone beat him in a straight race?

    1. Pay attention to his pace in defence compared with attack. There's a difference.

    2. not Having it that Tav is quicker running with the ball than without. He’s clever at turning defenders and opening up spaces inside. He’s on the front foot then.

      Defensively he’s reacting and can get caught napping. Nowt to do with pace.

    3. There is a difference but he also gets caught out of position, Bigly! A defender can be starting from the standing position but is generally running backwards/sideways when being directly attacked and can be beaten for pace because the attacker is already already in mid flight and in a forward motion, he can accelerate quicker than a defender who has to turn and start his chase once the ball has been pushed past him...that's why Tav seems quicker attacking imo, the rule applies both ways.

  8. Halliday needs to stop wasting other players game time. Same as hodson, I can’t stand either player yet they still get game time. I’d rather a dead pony play in left back than Halliday. Thought Fod was excellent today but McGregor all day long for me. Murphy getting a lot of slack but don’t forget he scored the opener in our first European game and set up the penality for Tav.

  9. Well done gers another clean sheet and fredo scores again

  10. Agree with most except 7 and 10..think you are being at bit harsh in Andy I agree it's not his natural position but thought he had a decent game..Young Ross is magnificent when doing the dirty work but his first touch and distribution/vision is still poor and needs improvement..otherwise fair comments.

  11. Windass missing is no problem. When he's on the park you wouldn't know most of the time.
    Take the (alleged) £3M and buy the Osijek left back/captain.
    Use Wallace as a makeweight in the Lafferty deal, but pay no more than £300k.
    Looking better, especially at the back, but we need to keep posession better when breaking out of defence.
    Agree with all about Middleton. He looks very, very good.

    1. Agree with you GS Windass is either a No 10 or nothing ...3 Million would be good business ...Middleton could be awesome...hope the SPFL Cloggers don't get him ...Heading in the right direction

  12. Good points. The most important thing is we have SG, who'll hopefully bench, those who are lazy and get rid of all our liabilities. This season, we have no time for lazy or selfish play. Balls in the net, count and we'll come down hard on those who don't go along with the programme.

  13. 1. Long May it Continue
    ...Bring on The Sheep!

    2. Cut The Lad some Slack
    ...He will be a Decent Player, He just wasnt Ready Yet!

    3. Docherty is The Future of Rangers Midfield! ...A few wobbly performances doesnt change that

    4. What a Player Katic Looks!
    ...£5mill Easy! πŸ‘Š

    5. Young Sadiq is an Interesting one πŸ€”
    ...Think il wait til we are 5-10 games into the Season.

    6. I Hope this "Re-energised" Morelos lasts and He doesn't go in the huff again.

    7. Halliday...Just Go!
    ...Yes you are one of us but the direction the club is now going in
    ...your just not good enough

    8. Play Flan at RB and Sell Tavernier

    9. Absolutely Buzzin off Middleton!
    ...what a Player this Lad looks to Be 😍⚽πŸ’™

    10. McCrorie ...Same as Doche @ 3

    11. Out of Position again 😣
    ...Play him as a 10 and we will see the best of Ejaria

    12. Give Him a Few Matches to Settle πŸ‘

    13. Really hope he can pull himself together and pick up his form again!

    14. Delighted with Candei 😁
    ...Gets put in His Natural Position ...And Plays Well
    ...who would have thought of that πŸ˜‚

    15. Sell Windass Down the Road! πŸ‘πŸ’°


By commenting on this article on, you confirm you have read and understood the site terms, conditions, and moderation parameters (provided on the home page) of doing so.