There’s no question Rangers have a fair bit of work to do. We draw no overall conclusions from tonight’s brief 45-minute action (it was a friendly), but one thing was evidently clear – Rangers are considerably behind Sunderland in terms of fitness, despite the fact both started preseason about the same time (5 days’ difference) and this was Sunderland’s first match.
We suggested the match v Thistle, as much of a mess as it was, didn’t matter, because it was all about fitness – this one mattered a little more because it was all about fitness, and we’re now getting to the point we need to start seeing the players sharper because they’ve got a UCL qualifier and the start of the SPL in three weeks.
That was the culmination of two weeks training for those who did actually play, aside Colak, and the fitness was noticeably below our opponents.
One reader argued that we were effectively up against a League 1 side, albeit one now promoted into the Championship.
And while we certainly have respect for Alex Neil’s men, and they are no slouches, we should have been able to at least match them for intensity.
As it was, we were notably off.
It’s far from a disaster – we have three weeks of friendlies and intense training left before it gets serious, and we’re quite sure the manager will up the scale of the work to gradually get the men much more in tune with the rigours of competitive football.
But it was maybe a little disappointing that against a side at more or less the same stage of fitness (they began their preseason 5 days earlier after a longer break due to automatic promotion) Rangers were clearly a bit short.
Sunderland begin life in the very serious Championship at the same time we start in the SPL, and they look a lot more ready for their tough season than we do.
But of course, give it a week, and a bit more upping of the work from Gio and his staff, and hopefully we will be much more up to speed soon.
Trust in the manager.