“An asset or a liability” – eleven things we noted at Ibrox against Osijek

“An asset or a liability” – eleven things we noted at Ibrox against Osijek

Last night Rangers booked their place into the ‘big boys’ of the Europa League by clinching passage to the third qualifying round, where the real stuff starts in Europe.

Ibrox Noise takes you through a bunch of things we think we saw against our Croatian victims Osijek:

1: While it was a mixed bag on the night individually (more on that later), collectively the unit worked extremely well managing the match. The goal obviously helped, but there was a steeliness about Rangers which we’ve not seen at this level for a very long time. The shape, tactics, and mental strength held far better than the weak-spined shadows this team has been for the past six years, and it does look, for now, like Steven Gerrard is starting to instil a bit of grit in his men. Nice to see.

2: Defence was imperious but for one man, as usual. Our two centre backs were colossal – Goldson slept through the match (proving a few observers increasingly correct that this is an EPL level defender) and Nikola Katic just gets better and better. While it’s early days, this duo is looking like it could actually be a truly Rangers-standard defence. Which brings us onto…

3: Jon Flanagan – his best match yet as a Rangers player – while he was guilty of one or two lax passes, his positioning, defending, passing and overall reading of the game was titanic. He worked hard, never gave his man an inch, and the fact that effectively zero attacks came from his side says it all. Can’t say that about…

4: James Tavernier. Attack wise he offered very little in this one compared to his usually customary runs down the right, and his defending was just painful, as usual. Exposed wildly for Osijek’s goal, fans on this site keep harping on about how he costs goals. He does. It’s plain for anyone to see that he is an incredibly weak defensive link. And, quite honestly, he appears to be getting worse. How no Rangers manager appears to agree is beyond us.

5: Midfield was a mixed bag. Ovie Ejaria is struggling out of position – he is a winger-cum number 10, an ‘Iniesta’ he isn’t, yet that is where Gerrard wants him. And his game is suffering as a result. His cameos earlier in pre-season were great, but they were much more advanced in position. However…

6: Ryan Jack also had his best match as a Rangers player. He was tireless, tracking back, breaking up play, covering as much grass as he could, this was the first time his ‘unsung’ work was actually pretty obvious. He protected his defence well. However…

7: We still aren’t convinced about Coulibaly. For all the good ‘breaking up’ play he does, there’s a foul in a dangerous area or a needless free kick somewhere. He appears to lack much technical quality, even if he has a lot of heart and runs his socks off. The kind of player who could be a real liability on a bad day, but an asset on a good one.

8: But up front was a bit lacklustre again. Morelos was profligate, although he is still playing better than he was. While this wasn’t as sparkling as the first leg, and he let his attitude get the better of him at times, he still offered a great deal of work and held the ball effectively as we know he does. He wasn’t helped though by…

9: A real lack of quality service from Candeias and Kent. Kent was improved and grew into the match as it wore on, but a lack of connection and understanding with those around him was a huge problem and we get the weird feeling when we look at him that he’s the wrong player in the wrong team. On the other hand his confidence on the ball is inspiring, but we can’t really say he’s got us out our seat yet Stevie! However, his corners are spectacular – a really excellent set piece taker.

10: And for his part Candeias worked better in midfield and defence than in attack – he looks a bit rusty up front, and isn’t delivering the incisive balls he was, but he still bails Tavernier out time and time again.

11: And McGregor? Outstanding again, the level of a proper Rangers keeper, and he will be the most gutted man in Glasgow to have conceded that sloppy late goal.

11: A bit like the first leg, this was a mixed bag – a lot of collective good, and fine work from Gerrard to put out a team which could handle and manage potentially tricky opponents. Osijek are a very decent team and they looked pretty average in both legs, which is a testament to how Gerrard set his men up. It was a well managed 180 minutes and the defensive four (McGregor, Goldson, Katic and Flanagan) are clearly helping give the men in front of them assurance. Just a pity about the weak link…

Overall a great night – Rangers deservedly earned their place in the third round v a genuinely tough team in Maribor, and will do well to manage a place in the fourth round. But the fact they progressed fairly smoothly this far is already a gigantic leap of progress over last season.

This Rangers team is not the finished article yet, but right now it’s closer to the school of 2011 than it has been since Steven Naismith got injured.

We have to congratulate Gerrard and McAllister for their work so far – they’re proving our earlier doubts way wrong. Keep it up; Sunday will be one HELL of a match.

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  1. Not being funny but there goal was a fluck. Hit 3 of our players and bounced in. Was a real gutter cause we should have had another clean sheet. There’s very little u can do about a pingball goal. Personally I’d have liked to have seen Middleton have come on for Ejaria, he seems better in that forward sitting roll while he still tracks back. Personally candieas was one of our best players tonight. But sadly it was all defensive work he was doing. Morales needs a partner and it’s plainly obvious, was night his hold up and passing was amazing. Personally Lafferty would have been great beside him tonight sitting along side him on the line and waiting for morales to slip it in like he was trying with Others

  2. Time to get off Tav’s back IN. The goal was caused by slack play from Windass who was slack in not getting out to block the shot which went through his legs before clipping Tav’s heel on the way through. It was noticeable that they became much more dangerous once Candieas went off having run himself into the ground. Windass just didn’t bring the same work ethic. Back to Tav though. I suspect that if we went out and bought Marcello from Real Madrid two games in you’d be moaning that he can’t defend. Not suggesting that Tav is in the same class but he is a player that will always create and score goals. Like Marcello you need to organise your team to accommodate both the players strengths and weaknesses – and while he isn’t Marcello – within Rangers current team and where we are he is that important player that we need to accommodate.

  3. Let me first and foremost say that we're through to the 3rd europa league qualifying round, with a new team, still very much in its infancy.Thats the most important thing.Onto the performance which I thought was very good at times and very professional, just like our manager steven gerrard.His professionalism seems to be most definitely, rubbing off on our players.The whole team worked terrifically hard and there was no failure out there,in my eyes.I thought in particular,allan mcgregor, connor goldson,nikola katic were superb.But i thought the rangers motm was the immense ryan jack.A truly terrific midfield performance from jacko.His energy levels were superb,as he broke up play,started play from the defensive mid position,by building the play for us.His passing was very assured,crisp and accurate.I said on here when jack got injured by kipre,
    against motherwell,in that challenge,that we would miss jack and IMO we most certainly missed him.He was playing superb for us at the time and at pittodrie,when he got sent off,for his challenge on stevie may,he was absolutely bossing the midfield that game.Jack would always have a berth,in my rangers starting 11.He can be unnoticed at times but still doing his defensive mid job, very efficiently.Always thought that he has all attributes,to be a future glasgow rangers captain.His pass through for morelos in the game against osijek last night,was stunning, what a ball.He covers every blade of grass.
    Mr.windass,take note of ryan jack's workrate.

  4. Agree with pretty much all the comments, won't niggle over anything.
    I would say that before kickoff, I thought it was a mistake in a big game like this not to start either Arfield or Murphy. I felt that their experience would have been important. I want us to blood kids, but there is a time and place and once we have control of the game is best.
    I feel those two would have held on to the ball better, stopped it coming straight back when we were under pressure. Given the versatility both have, I would have been happy with just one of them playing instead of Ejaria or Kent, to stiffen the team.

    Oh, why not? To be fair to our captain, their LB was their best player. Did Tav make him look like that? Maybe, maybe not. I admit it wasn't his best or most influential game.

  5. Think you're being a bit unfair to Tav. It wasn't his best match but he wasn't as bad as you're making out. And I thought Ejaria was excellent in the first half but faded a bit n the second. I've been telling you for ever that Ryan Jack is a top player so no surprise you're finally seeing it. Along with McGregor and Goldson he was our best on the night. No one played badly although Kent needs to do more and Ejaria and Coulibaly faded towards the end.

  6. Spot on article I.N,i just thought Candeias deserved a little more credit his work rate is 100%
    Ive never doubted Stevie from the start👍each game we get we just get better and better😉
    Congratulations to all a great night for The Rangers WATP 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
    Bring on the sheep🐐

  7. I personally, don't believe in praising any team, that trash-talks our Manager and team. Their goal WAS a fluke, in my humble opinion. Bit pissed off, at Coulibally. My granny could have got that ball in the net. I do feel Tav, is now the "weakest link" in our back line. I still think we should sell Morelos, but now accept that isn't going to happen. His work rate has, improved but for a striker, balls in the back o the net, are what counts. Assists are all well and good. I am also a little concerned about Rossiter. Is he a player who's going to be labelled 'injury-prone' ? Windass must go asap. We need the revenue. He's never been a team player, in my view. Curtis Main would be a better buy than Lafferty, if we can get him. All is much better, across the board, no doubt. But the acid test, for how our season is going to go, will be the first game against Celtic. THEN we'll really see, how our new side copes. Kent was outstanding. Candeis as always, puts a good shift in. Humping Aberdeen, will be a great start, to our season.

    • You ask if Rossiter will be labelled "injury prone". Where the hell have you been for the last 2 years?

  8. Delighted to go through and shut those Croatian mouthpieces up! I agree with most of the article, I've always said Tav can't defend but I didn't think he done much wrong last night, they scored a flukey deflection in the 89th minute. Kent doesn't do anything to convince me, hopefully he produces something soon. I like ejaria but his decision making can be shocking- he should have put arfield through on goal! Jack outstanding, whole defence outstanding, candieas and Morelos worked their socks off! Excellent! Bring on the sheep!!!

  9. I wonder if Kent, Coulibaly and Ejaria are picking up starts more because of whatsw in their loan agreement than merit. If so, it doesn't look good for Murphy, Arfield or Middleton who I think should be ahead in the pecking order.

  10. Great result with some superb performances…Tav was not at fault for the goal . We do need another striker badly Laffs would be ideal ..but unfortunately the SPFL hatred of all things Rangers will prevent that happening as per Jamie Walker it's sickening We can only keep going in the right direction and this is true progress . I hope we run right over the Sheep Shaggers …as they too have no regard or respect for our great club

  11. Great win last night! Player rater:

    McGregor – 8 – couple of fantastic saves
    Tavernier – 7 – I won't be as critical as the general mood, he did make several mistakes, but he is improving, not his fault at goal, 100% Windass
    Goldson – 8 – solid performer, absolute class
    Katic – 9 – MOTM, proper defender, leaves nothing on the pitch
    Flanagan – 8 – another rock at the back
    Jack – 9 – I actually thought I saw Claude Makelele class last night
    Ejaria – 7 – young and raw, but definite quality
    Kent – 7 – you can see lots of quality and confidence, but not 100% clicked with the team
    Candeias – 7 – worked hard, gave his all
    Morelos – 8 – worked really hard, great pressing, unlucky not to score
    Gerrard – 9 – he instills his spirit and game knowledge into the players and they respond

    Absolutely fantastic win (in the tie) against quality opposition. Osijek would have challenged Celtic for SPL last season all the way in my opinion. Given the coefficient of Maribor, should Gers get past them, there'll be an easier draw in the Europa League Play-Off round, which means they have a good chance to get to the group stage – which would be nothing short of a miracle given last season's exploits. Steven Gerrard has given a lift to the team and supporters alike and with a couple of more signings to bolster the squad, I'm sure Rangers will push Celtic all the way for the title. I said recently my Glasgow XI would have 4 Gers players in McGregor, Goldson, Flanno and Arfield, now I can confidently add Katic there and that makes me think Rangers have a very good chance!

  12. I thought the performance was again an improvement but I'm not convinced we are ready for Pittodrie. It was a bit, like your comments, hit or miss. I thought Tavernier was careless in possession at times but can't recall any major defensive errors. I think we need to accept that if he plays he will push forward and leave gaps in behind. That is not his fault. If Gerrard thinks it is then he will leave him out or tell him to stay and defend.
    I don't share your views about Flanagan. He looks uncomfortable on the left. I'll wait to see him on the right before I pass judgement.
    Jack was excellent. Ejaria needs to play further forward as we can't take the chances he takes when playing deeper. Candeias did work hard but surely that's the very least we expect. I think he lacks quality. Kent wants to run at people but most of the time he runs into people. Maybe he'll settle once he's been here a few weeks.
    Our biggest problem is getting support up to Morelos. We just won't score many goals playing with one up top.

    • Once Umra Sadique is up to speed and IF Kyle Lafferty turns up at Ibrox a barrowload of goals could be coming our way. We would have so many options with these three front men.

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