Let’s first get some things in perspective before we in any way analyse Rangers’ performance v Newcastle tonight;
Not only were we taking part in our first proper preseason match, but we were up against the world’s richest side, who can easily shell out £100M on one man without batting an eyelid. They are also a Champions League side now with assured group football in the competition for finishing an outstanding fourth last season. They are a Premier League top team these days, and last but not least, their first team squad is worth upwards of £500M.
Rangers cannot realistically compete with this. It’s simple – it’s a different planet, and absolutely not a fair fight. In the first half, the visitors’ technical superiority, power and pace told and Rangers looked ‘put in our place’ for large spells of that initial 45.
The Geordies were well worth their lead and the hosts only really had Todd Cantwell and John Souttar to hold in any regard at all for doing themselves justice.
But it frankly all changed when Ben Davies went off – a previously fragile defence now looked infinitely more solid as new signing Leon Balogun arrived, and a glut of changes thereafter introduced a much meaner home team, more capable of putting passes together and finding space. Nico Raskin’s arrival especially helped midfield look so much more compete.
Indeed, Rangers actually deserved the equaliser by the time Sam Lammers put away his maiden goal for his new club.
And thereafter? The match lost all direction as both sides made tonnes of subs and while Newcastle did nab a winner, and probably overall shaded this one, Rangers can actually look at a few positives in here as food for thought.
For a first serious match of preseason against an opponent of this calibre, the hosts did ok. Not great, but ok, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
This is not our race, not our fight – this was just a testimonial for Allan McGregor (admittedly a very odd choice of opponent) that he richly earned, and the performance and result wasn’t that vital.
Preseason never means all that much, aside morale, and this match gave Rangers fans some things to be optimistic about.