Friday, 19 July 2019

A 12-man stunner at Ibrox...


Allan McGregor. James Tavernier. Nikola Katic Borna Barisic. Felip Helander. Steven Davis. Ryan Jack. Scott Arfield. Sheyi Ojo. Jermain Defoe. Jordan Jones. And technically Daniel Candeias.

These are twelve players who did NOT start last night’s demolition of St Joseph’s, with only two of them making a cameo during the match.

That a team that essentially made up of Rangers’ second-string was able to produce a masterclass of this quality against Europa League opposition whose league rivals Lincoln overcame a full-strength Celtic only a few years ago gives some idea of just how astonishing this result on both the night and aggregate were.

Of course, there’s a mitigating factor – St J are by no means Real Madrid and the tie was over after the first leg.

But despite our describing the second leg as a formality, the fact Rangers went out there with as strong a side as they did, which was still only a slightly impressive Development XI, gives some idea of the astonishing job Steven Gerrard has done in rebuilding the whole squad to something which does justice to the name of Rangers.

We’re not jumping to conclusions – the real tests come in the league. We’ve been here before, where we suggested our Rangers squad was looking like it could challenge Celtic, before reality bit us in the backside and our limitations became clear.

And we’re well aware that remains a strong risk.

But there’s a difference this time. This time we really do have players of genuine pedigree – either their careers are top quality like Arfield’s, Davis’s or McGregor, or they have all the potential in the world to transcend to that level, like Kamara, Jones, Barisic or Aribo.

And we also have a manager who has been given some genuine time to build his vision, and whose vision is starting to look like it means something.

The proof will be in the pudding, but it is hard not to build up some hopes when a reserve-level Rangers side puts away European opposition without even thinking about it.

Rangers have now scored… a lot of goals in pre-season. We’ve lost count. And conceded none. And of course, Killie on the fourth of next month will be the first real test of this new era under Gerrard.

But things right now look rosier than they have in a long time. And the omission of 12 of our best players didn’t even dampen our performance one bit.

Which has to count for something.


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