Things change fast in football, and for those who think that Beale was treated unfairly, we need to face one undeniable fact. The other lot have had a lot of new managers over the last few years, and unlike us, they always seem to hit the ground running.
But the focus tomorrow is a big match, and to be honest this could be a tough game if our players let themselves be distracted. Aris Limassol should not be underestimated. They are a tidy little team, where they play as a reasonably solid unit.
Usually their manager, Aleksey Shpilevsky likes to play a 4 4 2 formation with two midfielders covering the central defenders (the so-called double pivot). This gives the team usually has a very strong central spine, but like our last opponents their double-pivot does not operate very well, and they do tend to leave some room down the side.
Amongst our opponents they are (arguably) the most comfortable in defence, but they do have a habit of trying to force a high press at the wrong time, which to be blunt is often just painful to watch. This is because it is usually done piecemeal, with no real cohesion between the players.
From reviewing their matches their biggest problem is they tend to just jog and they never seem to really force the play. This allows better teams to easily tear them apart, and because their defenders are often too far up the park during the high press, they leave acres of room behind them. If they do this on Thursday it will be easy to hit Aris in the break.
At the back, they do not seem to play a low block in any of their matches. This could be OK, but the problem for Aris is the cohesion between the defenders is not as tight as it should be. The midfielders are also often very slow to get back, which causes their team to lose more goals than they should. So, in summary this is the weakest team in the group, and we should be really looking at 3 points from this match.
On our side, with Davis now in charge, my hope is we might finally see a defender playing at the back post during corners. This is something we at IN were screaming out for many years ago, but finally gave up on, because we know Beale didn’t listen to advice.
(Just having one player guarding the far side of our goal would have stopped many of the goals we have shipped in the last few months, and perhaps Beale would still have had his job.)
I also hope to see Steven Davis giving our front line more freedom to take shots from long distance. This crazy tactic of always trying to walk the ball into the 6-yard box just doesn’t work, and we spend too much time just passing the ball around. At the top level you have to be ruthless, and when you see a chance you really need to take a shot.
So, even though we have our share of injuries, and we do not know how we are going to play tomorrow, I’m still going to go for a Rangers 2-1 win.