Friday, 2 August 2019

Assessment: are Rangers ready for the SPL, or not?

We’ve had a few pelters recently for negativity, with a number of responses alleging that all we do is moan.

And yet, after the fourth sub-par display in a row, we’re starting to feel the early pre-season optimism of gubbing The Nag’s Head XI select and Winniford Park Sunday XL et al was a touch premature.

Ok, slight exaggeration, Marseille are a decent side, but they were certainly miles behind in fitness. And the four most recent performances – both Progres legs and the friendlies v Blackburn and Derby, in completely simple terms, haven’t been impressive.

We can already hear the frothing at the mouths types who are already screaming ‘it’s only pre-season’ and ‘give it time’ and ‘yer t*ms’ which is pretty much the standard response to criticism in Rangers circles these days.

But the hard reality is this squad, while a seeming improvement on paper, with quality apparently throughout, especially in midfield, has simply failed to produce the sum of its parts lately.

Yes, this team did what it needed to do v Progres and progressed, but Steven Gerrard wasn’t happy with either performance and frankly neither are we.

Progres were dangerous, sharp, strong, and Rangers, while ultimately professional enough to bring the result home, which is of course the only thing that truly matters, didn’t play well at all in either leg and we can’t exactly say this team now looks ready for the rigours of an SPL season.

Because that’s exactly what it’s got to deliver on Sunday with a trip to a notoriously difficult venue coming up.

For all the good feeling we all had maybe two or three weeks ago, it’s just clear now that this squad hasn’t got its act together yet, and Gerrard may be struggling to find the right blend.

The split form last season was immaculate – it benefited from a settled XI which basically didn’t change at all for the final five games bar the Killie loss, and now with change every single match there’s definitely a lack of rhythm.

Well, the players and manager better figure something out by Sunday or any chance of 55 is already badly on the back foot.

We know, we know – get behind the team and support, right?

We do, absolutely. We want nothing more than to will the lads on and to see a good display and good result on Sunday.

We want completely to be wrong.

But unfortunately the patterns the past couple of weeks have not looked good in preparation for this season. It’s one thing destroying League One Oxford when they’re about 3 weeks behind in fitness, quite another to convincingly beat both Blackburn and Derby – and we didn’t manage it.

Steven Gerrard is a demanding man, and he will expect much better on Sunday. We too are demanding fans and so do we.

The stage is yours, Rangers.

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