If Rangers supporters felt the opening matchday was disappointing against Ajax who had a 100% league record for the season, it’s not going to get much easier when Italian giants Napoli come to Govan on Tuesday, off the back of… a 100% league record for the entire season, including a drubbing of Liverpool on matchday one.
We’ve received a lot of complaints on Ibrox Noise from readers, arguing that Rangers’ player efforts just weren’t up to scratch in Holland, and that’s pretty much the deciding factor in why we lost.
They cite Leipzig and Dortmund as examples of us beating UCL-level teams, so we should have had a major fist on Ajax.
But as we’ve said before, it’s not who you face, it’s the level you face them at.
Barnet in the Champions League is a much tougher prospect than Barcelona in the Europa League.
Just ask Frankfurt, who put Barca in their place last season in the UEL, before they themselves got absolutely thumped at home by Sporting in the UCL, while Barca drubbed Czech giants Plzen.
The Champions League is the real deal, the Europa League isn’t.
This is why we pay little heed to our results at that level when applying to this season – because you can’t apply or compare them to UCL.
It’s like trying to use an old computer, a reliable old PC, and not quite understanding why today it feels slow, sticky and not up to code. It’s the same PC after all and it always did the job, so why is it struggling?
Because the rules have changed, and what was good enough at the lower level isn’t good enough now.
That doesn’t excuse Rangers’ apparent lethargy and apathy, even if we believe fear played a factor in that, but it does show we’re with the big boys now.
Napoli are one of Europe’s best and most in-form teams at the moment.
Rangers will have Ibrox, and we’ll be fascinated to see how Gio’s men handle this one.