“Bizarre”; Seven things we learned against HJK


Rangers finally returned to action today with a slightly underwhelming win over Finnish champions HJK. Naturally the usual disclaimer of ‘it was only a friendly’ applies but nevertheless Ibrox Noise takes you through seven things we learned by full time.

1: Rangers’ defence can go from resolute and watertight to sieve-like at the drop of a hat. For all its superb shape and functioning against Celtic, today’s back four looked like they’d just met. No communication, everyone slow to react and generally a pretty poor display at the rear will have given manager Steven Gerrard a depressing lack of positive problems.

2: The formation was absolutely incoherent – marketed as a 4-3-3, packaged like a 4-4-2 but ended up being a one-dimensional 4-2-2-2 with zero width. We knew there would be an issue accommodating a front two and it bore out that way.

3: Steven Davis, albeit slightly wasted in a bizarre defensive midfield positioning, nevertheless excelled tremendously and raked wide balls out with ease while working hard to support the rear. He looked absolute class and frankly better than the player who left. Sure, it was only a friendly but he looks 100% the part.

4: HJK were grossly underestimated by many who assumed a ‘backwater’ league like the Veikkausliiga couldn’t possibly produce a half-decent side and Rangers would roll them over. Not a bit of it. They were a fine side with potent attackers and they gave Rangers a lot of problems.

5: Jermain Defoe looked very rusty at best – obviously the lad will need time but his 22 minutes of game time this season showed and the ex-England international will need matches to get up to speed. But this creates the problem as mentioned in #2.

6: Scott Arfield did his ‘goalscoring midfielder’ application no harm at all with his latest in this one – he’s not a creative player at all, but he can score, and his potency in the box is becoming a useful tool.

7: Nikola Katic showed how inept Rangers have been from set pieces and corners in his absence – literally the first corner with him on the pitch and Rangers scored from it. There has been a real lack of goals from dead balls under Steven Gerrard (and earlier) and Katic is one of the few capable of netting from them.

There’s probably a tonne more – what ones came to your minds, readers?


  1. Being honest I think we're looking too much into a match that was scheduled purely to regain match fitness. Obviously players like Defoe and Flanagan were going to be a bit rusty, but I'm actually happier we got a tough game from them. No point playing a friendly just to shag a team you get nothing for it.

    • Hi Mac, you're correct in a sense that it was scheduled for fitness, but HJKs, not ours. They're in effective pre-season and we were supposed to have played Cowdenbeath two days ago – the fact that one got called off turned this one into a much more important fitness issue for us than it was supposed to be. Otherwise it was a long break then three matches inside five days which was slightly OTT.

  2. The thing I learned most was that HJK had a few decent players worth checking out. Number 36 looked excellent and their play in the last third was neat and incisive. Could there be a creative midfield player in their ranks?

  3. This is what I don't get with our team a step forward against the beggers and 2 back the way today. Let's face the tramps had an off day when we beat them not one of their players showed up on the day. Today we played to me a middle of the road team and we did not look good play like this against killie midweek we are done for. We need to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly or we can wave that title tatty bye and Stevie G will be blamed not our board.

  4. Good assessment of the game. I was quite underwhelmed at our performance, albeit it was only a friendly.
    It concerned me through the winter break how players and fans were riding on the crest of a wave boasting about the win against Celtic. I always believe you are only as good as your next game! This friendly was a warning, play like this against Kilmarnock on Wednesday and we will lose!!
    I agree Defoe looked very rusty. He is will struggle with the pace and physicality of the SPFL. He will clearly need a good 6-8 games to get some sort of fitness, games we really need to win and can't afford passengers, hope he proves me wrong.
    We need to find our consistency in play. We can't just think we have beaten Celtic, so we can down tools as its job done. No we can't!! Get out and play like that in every single game, if not, we will win nothing this season! But get that desire in every game, then maybe we will be in with a chance.

  5. Hers what we learned from this friendly ………Nothing .It was an exercise to give everybody a run out ,the teams and formations were not clues as to how we will play .I doubt for example we will ever see Flanagan at centre half in a real game.Youngsters got a run out which we all want to see so that was good especially young Houston in a position we have no cover .My only questions are , why are some Rangers support so quick to have a go after we win a friendly and where was Lee Wallace ?

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