So, we asked a couple of days ago are Rangers ready for Genk or Servette? Fans would be forgiven, on the evidence of Olympiakos, for thinking we aren’t.
It is true that the team isn’t working yet, that fitness isn’t there yet and the system is unclear and a bit messy, but we’re going to try to explore a bit of what’s going on here.
The big thing, aside the atrocious defence, which will be a separate piece entirely (could write a bible on that one), is the new system Beale is trying – as Ibrox Noise illustrated, Beale has dispensed with the winger system entirely, relying squarely on the fullbacks for width.
Now his attackers are all central, Lammers, Sima, Sakala, Dessers, Matondo – it’s all central with turns and switches going wider too.
This is the time to fix these things, get the kinks oiled out and make the transition work as effectively as possible.
But it is a little bit concerning that with only one friendly to go and the serious action barely a week away, there is no sign of cohesion in midfield to front.
Against Hamburg all three of Matondo, Sima and Sakala looked completely disparate, separate players running off midfield with absolutely no cohesive link up or plan – it was as if they were all waiting to be fed, and, in fairness, both Ianis Hagi and Kieran Dowell did actually link up with some good vision to these front men.
The problem was what to do next? Once Dowell or Hagi had neatly found Matondo or Sakala, what was coming next? There appeared to be no link up at that point, no tactic beyond cut inside and have a shot. Fair play if it works, but that didn’t.
What did work was, against this weaker calibre of opposition, was the one occasion of Dowell pressing, forcing the error, before Sakala mopped up the scraps and bundled the ball into the back of the net.
Against Olympiakos? None of the above. Neither the smooth balls into runners, OR the pressing high up to force errors.
So it was just a poor, poor performance with no obvious tactic to speak of.
And this is where Beale currently has us.
He is designing his master plan and has elected on the system he’s building, but it’s a curious choice, and isn’t coherent yet.
There is time. “7-10 days” can be both a short and LONG time in football, and Beale has seen from the first three matches what is working and what isn’t.
It’s up to him to learn now and find the solution which will see a big improvement v Hoffenheim, because after that, he is out of time to find what works when the serious action begins.
He’s not a stupid man, he will know what needs fixing. The question is intent – does he intend to resolve the issues?
Time will tell.