One unfortunate truth stood out over Rangers’ first three pre-season matches. Regardless of performances and results, the lack of energy, hunger and movement was significant, and the team looked a bit flat.
There was marginal improvement v Arsenal, but it wasn’t until Brighton the team started to look like they could actually be bothered, and then for Real it was a complete personality swap as the XI who started frankly outclassed their illustrious visitors, who, as Ibrox Noise’s Derek points out, did not pick a cheap z-team selection.
Sure, the wealth of typical household names were not quite there, but there was still talent worth around £600M that started in Govan, and the Famous beat them fair and square, with easily the best performance we’ve actually seen at Ibrox for some considerable time.
If there were doubts about the attitude prior to this one, they’re majorly dispelled now, and the squad has hit form at just the right time going into the season’s opener v Livi at the weekend.
There were a lot of Rangers’ main players back for this one – with Ryan Kent slaughtering Madrid, and new signing Fashion Sakala causing mayhem with his movement, so that clearly helped with the hike in quality we saw.
But an even more intriguing caveat was who WASN’T there. Alfredo Morelos remains away for reasons a little unclear – it’s been 17 days since Colombia defeated Peru to clinch third place in the Copa, albeit he was an unused sub again, and Kemar Roofe was not in the match squad either.
Joe Aribo remains on the sidelines as well, and Ryan Jack finds out on Wednesday if he’s got the green light to resume full training.
So at least four of Rangers’ stars were not in place v Madrid and the home side still strolled this one.
Pre-season had been slow, but the final three matches saw an incremental improvement in attitude, application, fitness and hunger, until the finale v Real gave us no lack of quality as well.
And this gives a lot of hope that this team is ready to face the launch of the competitive season as things presently stand.