Well we have allllll vented till the cows come home but what’s done is done, and it’s time to move forward.
And to that end we have our first proper group stage match of the Champions League since 2010 on Wednesday against Calvin Bassey’s Ajax.
Derek, Ibrox Noise’s main European analyst will have a more indepth preview for you in the next 24 hours, but Ibrox Noise picks out the key factors in this one about our opponents and the subplots overall for the Group A opener.
Ajax have lost a TONNE of players. They’ve gained a lot of money but our Dutch friends are massively down on personnel quality, and a lot of their players are actually off form – Dusan Tadic is an especial weakness and Rangers in Europe can exploit that. But it’s that loss of their best players – Martinez and Antony the big two that has hurt them a lot and while their league form reads 5W, none of the sides they’ve faced are any of the Eredivisie’s better teams.
It’s always key to remember too that they lost their outstanding manager to Man Utd, before selling off all their key players to him as well, so Ajax, honestly, are little more than Utd’s feeder club these days.
As for Tadic? He’s not what he was – he’s a great player, but the present boss Alfred Schreuder is actually playing him out of position on the right of midfield where he’s normally a left winger. He’s a weakness Giovanni can exploit.
There is of course the Bassey factor – that one of the very first major matches Ajax’s major summer signing will play is against the side that made him. Bassey will be coming home as well of course in this group phase, but the Nigeria international faces up against Scott Wright. How he’ll fear it we’re sure (!) we kid, it will be interesting to see how he does. Hopefully our men crush him.
And then we have the goal factor – McLaughlin is far from flavour of the month, and fans are canvassing for Allan McGregor’s return for this one. Indeed, in an Ibrox Noise poll over fans’ confidence for McLaughlin taking his place between the sticks on Wednesday started earlier today, the early indications are an absolute landside against the former Sunderland man getting the nod. We’ll have the full results tomorrow. Ergo, Gio has a big call to make, and if he sticks with his first choice, Ajax may smell blood.
Last but not least is the Steven Berghuis angle – Rangers were HEAVILY linked with this lad in his Feyenoord days, but he’s another Dutch star to choose another Dutch side rather than coming to Scotland not unlike Joey Veerman. In fairness he cost Ajax £5M which a year or so ago we couldn’t really afford. Be interesting to see how he does up against a side which was so heavily linked with him.
We await our first group phase match for 12 years with huge interest.