So with the signing of Ecuador’s Jose Cifuentes all but wrapped up, Rangers are really starting to take major shape for a serious assault on 56 and the Champions League qualifiers.
Of course, there’s still the ‘gelling’ time, but if a team is good, it’s good, and it should click into gear reasonably soon (and yes, we take into account the hapless start ex-Parkhead Ange had over there before Squid Game got going).
And with that in mind, let’s have a little look at what we currently have, including Feyenoord’s Danilo who seems to be very close to the move into Govan as well.
In goals it’s Jack Butland. A little unknown so far, Butland hasn’t had any major chance to stand out in preseason – despite us facing the mighty Newcastle, the goalie hasn’t had a real save to make, so we’ll need to wait longer before we can assess him. Robby McCrorie (for now) and Jon McLaughlin (goodness) remain the deputies.
Defence is not quite finished, not even close. We’ll call that right out. In positives we do have the excellent John Souttar and Leon Balogun in there, plus the surprise package that is Johnly Yfeko, and indeed Turkey’s impressive Ridvan Yilmaz, with Borna in there too, but more negatively we have this horrific feeling that Connor Goldson will just go right back into his slot when he’s fit and weaken things all over again.
Let not of course forget the permanent soft-centre that is James Tavernier, nor are we getting rid of Ben Davies any time soon. Dujon Sterling remains unfit. This area still needs some tweaking, and there’s no sign of Auston Trusty or Jonathan Panzo arriving. It’s half very good half very bad. 9 players in total, 10 including Adam Devine. We’d only really say Balogun, Souttar, Ridvan, Barisic and maybe Yfeko are up to scratch, and two of them have doubts over them (Barisic and Yfeko).
In midfield things look very good, if not necessarily physically intimidating. Beale is going for smaller, more dynamic players, with Jose Cifuentes, Nico Raskin and Todd Cantwell, none of whom get even close to 6ft. Cantwell is the tallest at 5ft 10. Kieran Dowell is the exception, a bigger lad who impressed v Hamburg and is more gritty while capable of a pass. There’s so much mobility in there though, and these guys are physically strong, but they might not all be the biggest. But that’s what Beale wants. We also have John Lundstram and Ryan Jack, but they’re mostly squad now. And that’s the main 6 men.
Attack gets very complex.
There’s a real mix of rubbish and great. Rabbi Matondo and Abdallah Sima have been horrific in preseason, while Fashion Sakala remains his patchy self-centred self. This three was rotten v Hamburg, despite the goals. Kemar Roofe is an exceptional player but we don’t trust him not to get injured, and then there’s the multitude of 10s.
Tom Lawrence is a new signing, we hope, it’s anticipated we’ll see a lot of him next season, while Alex Lowry’s future is uncertain as always. Ianis Hagi looks a mile off the pace simply because he doesn’t have the legs, but he does have the intelligence and range of passing.
And pure striker? Well, Sam Lammers’ position is versatile so while he’s a 9 by trade he’ll play all over. Cyriel Dessers is likely to compete with, we hope, incoming Danilo for the outright shirt up front.
So, in summary:
Butland, McCrorie, McLaughlin; Tavernier, Devine, Souttar, Balogun, Goldson, Yfeko, Davies, Ridvan, Barisic; Lundstram, Jack, Dowell, Raskin, Cantwell, Cifuentes; Hagi, Lowry, Lawrence; Sakala, Matondo, Sima, Roofe; Lammers, Dessers, Danilo.
Is that good enough for 56? Is it good enough for a respectable run in the Champions League?
We leave that with you.