As former Rangers midfielder Alex Rae alluded to, the club is going through a big transformation, and as he discussed, formation is a major part of that.
Last season it was hard to pin down exactly what the system under Michael Beale was, with only one natural winger in the team, ala Ryan Kent, mostly playing centrally behind Alfredo Morelos or Antonio Colak while Fashion Sakala (a striker by trade) supported on the right and centrally.
Sometimes it was a 4-3-3, others a 4-2-1-2-1, others a 4-2-3-1.
But this summer is seeing major change in personnel. So Ibrox Noise wanted to take a look at what the signings hint at from this manager.
And the biggest one is that Michael Beale does not play with wingers. While Abdallah Sima is a winger by trade, we don’t believe he’s been signed for that purpose given he’s played almost half his career as a striker.
Why? Because Rangers don’t have a left-sided counterpart for Sima. With the exit of Kent, only Tom Lawrence exists as close to a left winger, and for Rangers he never played there, but centrally instead. He’s also right footed. Scott Wright isn’t good enough and won’t be part of Beale’s plans.
So it seems like Rangers are going now for a much more central system – Sam Lammers is a big summer signing, and he will play, but clearly not as a pure winger or pure striker, but as a kind of support man behind Cyriel Dessers.
Which means, as things stand, signing of Danilo notwithstanding, Rangers appear to be opting for a narrow front three of Dessers, Lammers and Sima, with Lawrence, Sakala and Roofe as depth. And rotation, we’d imagine, within that lot.
Midfield? Jose Cifuentes is a vital part of this if we can get that one done, but naturally it’s Cantwell, Raskin, Lundstram, Dowell and Jack as things stand. This is a dynamic midfield with a mix of youth and experience, and clearly that fluid mobility is what Beale seeks.
One thing we’ll say is the midfield lacks, at the moment, clear power – there’s no ‘Broony’ in there unless John Lundstram recaptures his own tubthumping power of early last year, and Ryan Jack just isn’t a physically strong player. None of Cantwell, Raskin, Dowell or even incoming Cifuentes strike us as enforcers at all.
But then maybe that’s not what we’re looking for in the middle?
Either way, the team is evolving, and Beale is taking his own path with it.
As we said before the window, he has a clean slate to play Football Manager and build his own team completely.
It is very interesting seeing what he comes up with.