Rangers face West Ham tonight in the Europa Final That Should Have Been, with the Famous hosting David Moyes’ outstanding London side, hoping for as strong a season this term as they had last.
It is without a doubt the biggest challenge Rangers have had this preseason, and with just over 10 days till the serious action begins, this is where cohesion and fitness actually start to matter.
Gio is closing in on what he will be properly judged on – he surpassed all expectations, league wise aside (in ways, even including) last season but he was being judged as a mid-season arriving manager with someone else’s team.
Tonight it’s truly his team, and it’s the first real proper ‘test’ of the preseason. While the result isn’t that crucial, the performance is starting to matter, and fitness most certainly is.
If the side is up to pace and looks sharp, hungry, and even manages to play a decent bit of football, it’s a fine sign in preparation to face Union Saint.
But if West Ham, who are 3 matches into their preseason, same as Rangers (taking Sunderland into account), are miles ahead on fitness and cohesion, it is a bit concerning at this stage of preseason with so little time left.
Doesn’t matter – we trust Gio to pick the best XI for the occasion and it is after all still a friendly and still prep.
But he’ll want a sharper-looking display against a side of West Ham’s calibre, and with both sides at the same stage of preseason it’s ideal that our fitness levels at least match theirs.
We will watch with wonder.