With one match to go, and Rangers deeply close to becoming the worst-ever side to ‘grace’ the Champions League (just 2012’s Zagreb are currently worse) how do we sum up this tragic Champions League campaign for the Famous?
The reality is, there are a number of key factors to explain why this was predictable, why Ibrox Noise warned you all that we expected nothing from the UCL, and that even a draw was a bonus at that level.
Rangers punched well, well, WELL above our weight in the UEL, beating teams better than ourselves, purely because they weren’t aggressive enough. Why weren’t they aggressive enough? Because it was the UEL and they didn’t care half as much as we did.
Feyenoord, Benfica, Porto, Dortmund, Leipzig – these teams all see themselves as UCL, rightly, and consider the UEL beneath them.
It’s for teams not good enough for the UCL, and automatically it lacks the motivation and glamour for the world’s best players ‘unlucky’ enough to end up in it or worse. So when a Frankfurt face Barcelona, a midtable German side v a glamour giant like the Catalans, they secure the win, because not only are the Nou Camp side utterly terrible these days, but they scoff at the UEL.
They and Dortmund.
Dortmund had to make do with the UEL after bombing out of the UCL – instead of Rangers facing a quality UCL side, we were facing an unmotivated and arrogant German side missing their best player. They showed us no respect, something they would never have done in the UCL.
So while we are not trying to dismiss our whole UEL campaign, we are trying to explain why the ‘good’ sides just weren’t at it in that competition. Why would they be – there’s little glory to a giant club winning the UEL – it’s for teams the size of Rangers, Frankfurt and indeed Celtic if they had a clue about how to compete at that level.
Most big sides who end up in the UEL have already got their UCL place sorted for next season anyway, so don’t need to win it for that particular prize.
So what are we actually saying here?
Rangers were predictably a mile off the level needed for the UCL – we didn’t have the players in the first place, and we sold the best ones we did have. We didn’t replace any of them – the only quality we signed was Colak, and without quality behind him he didn’t have a chance. He had two real shots so far – one was a close block, the other was just wide – he didn’t wildly miss anything, with just one performance falling distinctly short, and that was Liverpool at home.
But the rest of the squad was completely short.
Now, a lot of you reading this will be scoffing, claiming you all knew this would happen – well, that’s not the feedback our content got on the page or site.
It was optimism, a genuine belief this manager and squad could thrive in the group because we got to the UEL final – and maybe even get through to the KO stages and more.
Even despite losing our best players, that was the general theme.
Seville really falsified how good we were.
Ibrox Noise’s Derek is right to say we now lack aggression under Gio, aggression we had last season. But that was because we were already facing sides lacking it. We looked more aggressive because we were experienced in the UEL, and actually knew how to manage it. We wanted it more. Again opponents, in most cases, who weren’t quite so motivated or aggressive.
Now, up against sides with everything to play for and UCL glory to seek, we look quite different and fearfully out of our depth.
We wrote this UCL campaign off before it started here on Ibrox Noise, and we don’t blame the majority of you for wanting to believe better was coming than what we predicted. You, and we, are Rangers fans and want success.
But Rangers weren’t ready, and sadly are now close to being the worst UCL side of all time.
Not what we wanted at all.