We’ve been getting some aggro for being overly negative lately. A lot of our esteemed readers are a little miffed that since the Blackburn draw, our output has been excessively grumpy. And it’s true – up till then we were riding high on the optimistic wave of pre-season, only for that performance and result and the subsequent two after it to douse that good feeling a touch.
So, taking on board the wishes of our audience, Ibrox Noise brings you ‘Reasons to be Positive’ over this pre-season and our prospects for the new campaign.
Ok, we start with the obvious one – in this entire summer, we’ve conceded only a single goal. No matter who the defence has been comprised of or who the opposition has been, or even who’s been in between our sticks, we’ve had an almost entirely exclusive shut out. That is definitely a cause for cheer, and suggests all of our defenders are up to it.
Secondly, George Edmundson. It may only have been Progres, but Ed’s performance at Ibrox was simply outstanding especially for his age. Barely a mistake made, and some excellent fulsome defending and reading of the game. This added superbly to the range passing he’d shown in earlier pre-season and suggested that right now, give or take, he might just be the first choice. Not bad for £650K.
Thirdly has been the hilarious and borderline insulting daylight robbery of Charlton for their star man Joe Aribo. A £10M-£20M player already, Rangers’ scouting department did a number on the Valley men getting this kid for £250K, and his pre-season displays have only got better and better. Bigger tests than a below-par Marseille et al are to come, but his consistency no matter the opponent showed that Aribo is a serious bet for the best signing Steven Gerrard has made. Hopefully he continues this path.
Lack of injury – yes, it’s not something anyone has really talked about but Rangers have come through this pre-season friendly fixture period without a single blow. The only contender has been a shaky moment involving Jermain Defoe v Derby, but by and large the squad is unscathed. That’s always a plus.
Shipping the dead wood. Rangers have managed to shed a lot of unwanted this summer already – Jak Alnwick is gone, Jordan Rossiter followed him, Lee Wallace is now at QPR and Kyle Lafferty was freed. Daniel Candeias was a less obvious piece of dead wood but we never saw him as part of Rangers’ future. So, we’ve managed to get a few bits and bobs off the wage bill.
Midfield power. The options Gerrard has in the middle are arguably the best in the country matched only by Celtic. Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield, Joe Aribo, Steven Davis and Greg Docherty make up six absolute first-XI options. Any three of those could be selected and Rangers are none the weaker for it. That is serious progress.
Jermain Defoe. It actually turns out Defoe is just as good an option as Alfredo Morelos – he might not have Alf’s power and nuisance factor, but he’s a more intelligent runner, a more clinical finisher, and he doesn’t waste much. He’s also nowhere near as selfish in the box. So Rangers have a very viable option over the Colombian, even if a little more quality is still required.
Valuable assets. Whatever sums we’re talking about, the likes of Tavernier, Morelos, Arfield, Kamara and Aribo are worth some serious cash now – whether they’re sold or not, they are lucrative assets and that only boosts the overall value of the club.
Season tickets. Every record under the sun got smashed this early summer as Rangers sold out 45,757 books with 14,000 still on the waiting list. This guaranteed Rangers a huge pot of cash especially in the case of those who pay up front, and a constant stream of income over the season for those on the ticketing scheme.
Ibrox capacity. This one is loosely related to the previous issue – while Rangers have been stuck at 51K for a very long time at Ibrox, we know fine well a 60K stadium would be more than viable, theoretically speaking. Of course, the logistics are beyond a nightmare and with the main stand protected, upgrades would be difficult, but with a 14K waiting list on the STs, Ibrox could be well over 60K and packed out at that.
We also guaranteed more Europa League cash by getting to stage two of the qualifiers. Sure, it’s not a fortune, but each stage nets hundreds of thousands and getting to the group stage confirms almost £3M. So, yet more cash in the coffers – if we get there.
There are a few more, but there are certainly reasons for hope right now. And that’s some of them.