Rangers’ performance in Sweden has come significantly under the microscope since midweek, with Rangers’ first return to the CL going a little below the level we’d all hoped.
While the side hopes to bounce back this afternoon with a good performance and result v Dundee United, we noticed something on Tuesday few have actually mentioned with regards to an ‘explanation’ as to why Stevie G’s men struggled in Malmo:
Rangers’ best period v Livi, by some distance, was the first 30 minutes, in which the Romanian’s presence gave movement, energy, and hard work in the final third. He also opened the scoring.
Once removed after injury, Rangers’ performance hugely dipped till Scott Wright’s second just about sealed it.
Hagi was on the bench for the trip to Sweden but stood no chance of featuring, and while the energy levels of Wright, Ryan Kent and Cedric Itten were good, Hagi’s relentless nature was an extremely underrated absence from the qualifying first leg.
The former Genk man has evolved his game several times since joining Rangers, and currently provides a dynamic movement, running the channels and cutting inside, while switching position and getting into the box.
Clearly that wasn’t there, and while Scott Wright is lively and we admire his work ethic, he isn’t at the level of Hagi for all round quality just yet.
Hagi’s absence in Sweden may well have contributed to Rangers’ slightly flat overall showing, just like the performance level dipped on his leaving the field v Livi.
We’re not saying we’re a one man team, but Rangers, like any top side, are majorly weakened with the loss of key first team players.
Hagi was yet another.
Thankfully manager Steven Gerrard has confirmed most players are available for today’s trip to Dundee.
Unfortunately, they don’t include Hagi.
And that may have had an impact on the last two performances.