Rangers’ two new signings started properly in a league game together for the first time at Livi, and just how did they do?
Well, bear in mind the artificial surface which neither of them has ever played on in senior professional football, and as a result how that plastic pitch may have affected their performance, given both men have only ever played on grass before in their careers.
We begin with Nicolas Raskin, whose presence was a massive fillip, giving Rangers a full midfield rather than relying on utility man James Sands. This Belgian 21-year-old, who physically bears a bit of a resemblance to a young Rino Gattuso, has taken to the shirt with gusto, and if we look at his stats for the day in Livi, it’s impressive.
He had a 90% passing rate, managed 6 accurate long balls of 8 attempts, and even tried a through ball as well. He got 82 possessions of the ball, the highest of any non-defender aside one other, and for his small frame even won an aerial. Defensively he made a tackle, and he even won a foul or two in there.
In short, he was one of Rangers’ best performers on the day, dismissing the rotten surface and getting on with it. Nicolas Raskin is an outstanding player, and £1.75M was a ridiculous bargain for him. The immediate factor is from his instant debut cameo a few matches ago, he was immediately in and about his opponent, and showed absolutely no ring rustiness whatsoever. Despite being fatigued after Partick, he recovered fast and was completely ready for Livi.
He’s been confident from the start, not just saying the right words in the press but delivering on it on the pitch. He’s been very, very good.
Now we move onto Cantwell. Regulars already know we love this guy, and while he perhaps did not have such an obvious display at Livi as he has previously, he was still extremely polished, with another 90% passing. In his case he tried 3 long balls and made the lot, also managing a clean through ball as well. He is the one other non-defender to have 82 possessions, making he and Raskin the most dominant players in the shirt aside just reBorn-a Barisic, who had 95.
And for a player who isn’t really a defender, Cantwell was excellent – three tackles, two clearances and he even blocked a shot. £2M for this lad looks like a cinch…
In summary? These are two brand new signings who have absolutely nailed it. It’s the first time Rangers have had a window in years which has completely lifted the team, and equipped us with two players who have glided effortlessly into the side and raised the standard superbly.
This was around £3.75M extremely well spent, and THIS is why we have scouts – to find these players, and bring them in when the time is right.
Cantwell and Raskin will have their biggest tests yet next weekend, but clearly, they’re already ready for it. The question is, are they mentally ready?
Who’d bet against them.