Monday, 5 November 2018

Crisis at Ibrox? What crisis!

We’ve never been afraid to call it as we see it here at Ibrox Noise. Be that positive, negative, or indifferent, what’s going on at Edmiston Drive tends to result in what you see here.

If it’s win after win then we’re in joyous moods, and even the odd draw won’t kill us. When form is bad, however, then that equally reflects our output.

Indeed, the first two or three months of Steven Gerrard’s reign in Govan saw barely a single note of dissent from us. We were delighted with how things appeared to be going and you’d have been hard pressed to find a single critical article on the site.

However, things have not been quite so exemplary of late, and we make absolutely no apology for calling that, but we do equally admit that a lot of critical feedback from you, our valuable readers will always matter to us. In fact, all feedback, positive or negative matters, because you guys and gals are what make us.

So in a change from recent tone, we’re going to focus on the more constructive and positive aspects of the club and how things are, and suggest ways for our manager to turn the recent off-colour performances and results around.

Before we go on, we wouldn’t pretend to know more about football than Steven Gerrard – we are not so conceited to claim we do. But we do, like most of our readers, know a fair bit about our club, and our country’s league, so we don’t feel so out-of-place in making some practical observations which he is free to listen to or discard.

And we will emphasise that we pressed hard for the dropping of Lassana Coulibaly, and that is exactly what he did, and we applaud that. It may or may not have aided in Saturday’s win in Paisley, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

Another positive was another time of seeing a Gerrard substitution directly pay off – all too often the subs make no difference, are too late, and aren’t the right call. But just like the excellent decision to bring on Glenn Middleton in Spain (which won the point) the choice to haul off the hapless Eros Grezda and replace him with Daniel Candeias turned Saturday around and led to the win.

It means, for the first time in what feels like forever, Rangers have won two away fixtures in a row. Sure, the performances haven’t quite been elite, but the points matter more than how they’re gained.

It also means that for the first time since last season, Rangers are third in the table. Yes, we aspire to better but not long ago we were near the bottom half of the table – and the only way has been up, even if it’s been slow-burning.

Readers have also commented on something which McAllister alluded to at the last presser – Alfredo Morelos, and how he needs runners.

Could it be that Morelos is better suited as a number 10, rather than the 9. While he has a good haul of goals, his best work is definitely done deeper, dragging defenders away and creating space ahead of him. He wins a remarkable amount of fouls too, and it seems to us and many of our readers, a tweak in his position might get the absolute best out of him, rather than putting all the pressure to lead the team on him. Of course, this would require a switch in formation, but perhaps equally it is time to try a new one given 4-3-3 is just starting to creak a little now and become predictable.

We are also delighted to see Jordan Rossiter sustaining fitness. As we alluded to in a previous entry, this may just be the longest stretch of games the ex-Liverpool kid has actually remained fit at Ibrox. He himself is absolutely delighted with his progress and knows the only thing left is to gain match sharpness. We’ve seen what he can do at his best, and that Jordan Rossiter is an absolute asset.

Defence wise we remain puzzled over the Katic/Worrall situation though. Few fans appear to prefer the Englishman and we do wonder why Gerrard is persisting with him over the far superior Katic. That is one we will watch with interest and hope Stevie finally comes to his senses on it.

But another good sign is the continuing fitness of Ryan Jack – he put in another polished display on Saturday, and is adding neat composure to his game – he maybe wasn’t quite as defensive as we’re used to seeing from him, but it remains part of his game and at one point he ditched out a crunch tackle, the bite of which we loved seeing from our side.

The results in Europe have been a standout – and fans are right to say that it’s as much 3 losses in 25 as it is 13 wins all season. It’s a half glass full from a great number of supporters and we’ve no quarrel with that. We do feel Gerrard’s best outings have indeed been in the Europa League – slight echoes of Paul Le Guen on that level in the sense the Frenchman did rather well in the-then Uefa Cup but not so well on the domestic front. Well, the past three SPL matches have seen two wins and a draw, so there is possible improvement in that context too, so we can only hope it continues.

But as said, that European run is staggering. Not only have we gone 11 matches unbeaten, but we remain top of our group table, and while the Spartak display wasn’t as good as the previous two, we still did not lose and are becoming an outside bet to actually progress from this group.

There is no denying the calibre of player at Ibrox is higher than it was. We have a glut of internationals in the team, including current ones as well as ex, and that has always been a barometer of a Rangers team.

Results and displays recently have seen a dip, this is true, and by heck we’ve called that.

We’ve called a few players out, and some of Gerrard’s decisions.

But equally we have to concede he’s done a lot right within the overall picture of the season. And if he can iron out the errors, and get his players to play as they did against Hearts, Rapid more often than what they showed against Hamilton and Aberdeen, then the road ahead will look promising.

Third place in the SPL and improving, top of our group in the UEL, and a January market upcoming to hopefully boost the players further.

There are reasons to be positive.
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