We cannot help but wonder how different Rangers’ UCL campaign would have gone without the injuries which have, frankly, played a huge part in derailing progress.
League-wise we’ve not been incredible, true, but it’s been adequate, albeit when is adequate ever enough for Rangers? No, the reality is at UCL level we’ve been dire, and when we look at the number of injured or demotivated players who clearly would have made a difference in full flight it’s pretty painful:
Helander, Jack, Hagi, Lawrence, Roofe, Kamara, Kent…
Had Rangers been able to line up with McGregor in goal, a back four of Tavernier, Goldson, Helander and Barisic or Ridvan, a midfield of Jack and Lundstram, and a front three of Lawrence, Hagi and Kent, with Morelos/Colak, there is no knowing what difference that could have made.
The injuries this season have been absolutely diabolical, with around 15 players so far either injured or having been injured. Is it an issue with the training? Are our players simply not fit enough? We cannot know, nor can we guess.
But the end result is that instead of Goldson and Helander, it’s been King and Sands, or King and Davies. It’s been Davis and Lundstram rather than Jack. And a flat Kent without Hagi or Lawrence anywhere near him.
We’re not saying our squad fully-fit is outstanding and UCL level, but it might have been able to put up a lot more of a fight than Scott Wright and Leon King can.
Rangers and Giovanni van Bronckhorst have been cruelly denied so many players this season, and it’s naïve to blame everything bad on tactics or the board. While a lot of these things may stem from board decisions, the end result is the board didn’t injure Hagi or Lawrence or Ridvan – this was just damn luck or bad training. Maybe both.
End of the day, we’ve had a skeleton squad most of the season, and we doubt we’d have been all that much better in the Europa League in this state.
Doesn’t matter what team you are, it’s hard to cope when half your senior squad is out injured.