The group of death, so many Rangers fans and indeed watching pundits called our Champions League group.
Napoli, Liverpool and Ajax – impossible, wall of death, can’t get past it.
Ibrox Noise were one of the few to argue this was far from a group of death, and the only side worth a damn was Napoli, with Liverpool a shadow of what they were and Ajax one of the weakest pot 1 teams. They had also lost their outstanding manager.
Fast-forward to today – Ajax are in absolute disarray – struggling domestically, fired their manager some weeks ago, and had the worst Champions League campaign in their history, only beaten by our own hapless shambles.
Liverpool – they’re back to the Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier days, a midtable side completely gone from where they were even the previous season, a downfall started by the inexplicable sale of Sadio Mane.
Only Napoli lived up to their billing as a decent side, and they aren’t even an especially great – they top Serie A but Italy’s top flight is by a distance the weakest now of the big five. Juve, Inter and Milan are shadows of their old selves, while Fiorentina, Roma and Lazio are middling as well. Napoli are very good, and that’s enough to be by far the best in Italy. Napoli will struggle against Frankfurt who are light years ahead of Liverpool, Rangers and Ajax.
What are we babbling about really, here?
Just disappointment that Rangers capitulated so meekly in the group stage. Didn’t go for it. Qualification in some form from that group was completely possible – we showed FAR too much respect to the names of Liverpool and Ajax, and pathetically stood back and let them have their ways.
Had we actually gone for it and tried, Rangers would have stood a serious chance of qualifying in third, maybe even second.
Liverpool are absolutely garbage, and Ajax are even worse. Rangers only had to show up, believe in themselves and work for it and qualification would have been quite possible.
A group of death it wasn’t, and we called that on the site when it was drawn, even if we were guilty of lazily using the label. We could have been looking forward to European football this month in either the Europa League or the Champions League but as it is, St Mirren every other week is what we get.
This falls on Giovanni van Bronckhorst – a good Rangers man, this is the one thing we hold against him, that he was so cowardly v Ajax, and that set the pattern. Beale would never have been so backwards.
Time has proven how rotten Liverpool and Ajax actually are now, and how Rangers could have landed more than a glove on the pair of them. But just refused to.
The only time we did, fortune was cruel as we sat 1-1 with Liverpool justifiably, only to be robbed of Goldson and having no one to replace him. Bad luck and bad planning there.
In the end, it’s history of course, but what might have been.