How seriously should Rangers take preseason? As is often the case, fans are torn between the morale-boosting wins being good for fitness, while the losses aren’t to be taken seriously and are ‘much to learn from’ etc.
As such, supporters are never quite sure where to judge the summer recess, whether to take it as meaningless or as in fact an indicator of where the team might actually be at.
Look at last summer – we only just got pipped 1-2 by a very strong Spurs side complete with Harry Kane, with Rabbi Matondo shining. And we thumped West Ham 3-0 as well, a Declan Rice-infused Hammers. That bode well for the season, and yet we ended it with zero – no trophies, and an embarrassing Champions League group campaign while Matondo was pretty poor.
So we do take with a sack of Saxa results and performances at this stage, but that said, there’s a reason there IS a preseason – to prepare, to try, and to measure how certain players are doing.
And on that note one of the big standouts of what we’ve seen in preseason is that Rangers have absolutely no worthy wingers right now, with Abdallah Sima not getting off to a great start and Rabbi Matondo continuing to fall short.
We have absolutely no one on the left aside Tom Lawrence, who curiously played on the right in his cameo v Hamburg, and the nearly-gone Scott Wright who will soon be a Pendikspor player anyway.
What Michael Beale has done is eliminate wing play from Rangers – he does want width, but he wants it as an option, a tactic, and not a system. When Ryan Kent was playing under Beale, he was basically playing as a 10. He was mostly central, although also did play wide too. Indeed, we’ll have an article on this in due course, but the point is Beale doesn’t play with wingers.
He plays with a mix of attackers, and relies completely on the full backs offering the width. As we explained before, Sima isn’t even a proper winger – he’s as much a centre-forward as anything, and he (supposedly) offers options.
And that’s one change Beale is making this summer. There’s no coincidence he has let a bunch of wingers go and hasn’t signed any proper dedicated ones to replace them.
Because he doesn’t use that system. The signing of Lammers is a big clue – he basically replaced Kent, and he’s a 10 stroke 9. He’s versatile across the front three. Same as Roofe. Same as Sakala. Even Dessers has more than one string in his bow. Ditto Lawrence.
And that’s why the wing system is basically out at Rangers. These guys will offer width, but it will be transitional – Beale plays through the middle, and relies on Ridvan (and Tav) for the main flank play wide.
Will it work next season? We shall see!