James Sands makes shock and unexpected admission about Rangers players

James Sands makes shock and unexpected admission about Rangers players
James Sands speaking to the press.....

James Sands’ comments this morning about the players not being aware of the gulf between the Europa League and the Champions League are, frankly, deeply naïve.

Ibrox Noise regulars will know we have a lot of time for Sands, a very flexible and adaptable player who has got Rangers out of a lot of personnel holes this season with his versality and ability to cover several positions, and rather well at that.

But for the USA international to tell us he and his team mates were actually taken aback by how much harder the UCL is over the UEL is a pretty eye-opening comment, and suggests a lot of naivete among Rangers players who probably thought they’d arrived when they got to the UEL final.

Indeed, let’s look at what he said:

“I think it is a big step up from the Europa League. We did well in that competition last year but it seems we have missed a step and gone straight in with the very best teams in the Champions League. It has been an experience for all of us and we have to learn from it. I think it has been a bit of a surprise for everyone. I believe we have three of the best teams in Europe in our group so it was extremely tough. We were a little surprised by the quality, but we got better as the group went on which is a positive. It is a learning experience for all of us and hopefully we can use it to help us in the league. We still have a chance to win some trophies this season.”

There’s a lot to look at here, we’ll start with the first bit:

He’s sort of right, it’s a big step up. He’s actually wrong, it’s a different planet completely.

As for going in with the very best teams/three of Europe’s best teams, not a bit of it – just Napoli were impressive. Liverpool and Ajax were extremely poor and substandard versions. Shreuder’s Ajax is nowhere near Ten Haag’s, and Liverpool without Mane are a different prospect entirely.

‘A bit of a surprise for everyone’ is the bit we’re struggling with. We think, really, he means a bit of a surprise for himself, this being his first time outside of the MLS and being pretty new to European football at its best. He clearly judged the UEL that he competed in as being fractionally inferior to the UCL, which he’d never touched, and it wasn’t till the team was actually in the group stage he began realising this wasn’t just a step up, it was a gigantic leap.

If Sands is right, and the whole squad was surprised, well, that includes experienced veterans like McGregor and Davis, plus others who have already played at this level such as Colak and Tillman, so we’re not sure Sands is speaking for everyone here.

The reality is Rangers flunked their group completely, one they could have managed to do a little better in. But if it was down to pure naivety then we’re more than a bit aggrieved at how poorly the club planned and prepared.

Is this why we didn’t reinforce particularly well? Is it because the club genuinely didn’t think the UCL was that big a jump?

Ibrox Noise preached preseason how large a leap it was, but it seems like very few listened until a few matches in.

And if Sands is to be taken literally, the club was as much in the dark as anyone else about just how much better the UCL is.

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  1. I think there is a thread of truth in what he says . This is a totally different animal both physically and mentally for all of Rangers at this time in our development from our 3rd Division exploits . Mentally the fear factor was there, physically the pace movement and positional senses from this level especially Napoli is massively a bit of a mountain to climb for us and of course the others in Scottish Football as we have all seen , well all except the green loving snp press. So he does speak some sense , we did capitulate too much I agree but I think they possibly thought Europa level like last season would have been enough to compete, perhaps with Aribo and Bassey . Looking at those who have qualified for the next stage of Europa it certainly confirms a little of what he says and confirms our status as the best European Team in Scotland by a mile for almost 6 years by the way. Onwards 56

  2. I really think the players were let down by the board and managment ,to make a better impression on the tournament .The board for not supplying the funds ,and the management for punting all our best defenders ,not investing in a top goalie ,re signing ageing players in midfield and the quality of signings being very poor, added to the mystery of all the injuries has left our team nowhere near good enough to compete in this arena .
    A grossly under strength team has been left to take to the field v top teams with young inexperienced players playing alongside old players and disenterested players .
    The players knew this and had the rabbit caught in the headlights look about them ,especially v liverpool and ajax home games with a ravaged team .
    The Mismangement has been criminal tbh ,with most fans seeing it right from beginning of the season ,katic being outstanding last night was just the salt in the wounds .
    You would actually think our head coach was trying to lose his job the decisions he has made.

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