Rangers victory on Sunday was another welcomed three points as the club aim to finish the season strongly. It was a solid performance and in spells we looked very good, we knocked the ball about very well and looked slick in possession.
As the manager commented perhaps the disappointing part was lack of more goals but credit to the opposition keeper who made a series of decent stops. But Gerrard will have been pleased with our shape and ability to knock the ball about, Rangers kept the ball for several minutes at a time unchallenged.
It was a nice feeling to beat Aberdeen but I couldn’t help feel a little bit angry that they had beaten us previously. Let’s be brutally honest here, they were absolutely dreadful and a team with very little interest in trying to do anything. Simply there to be negative, punt the ball long and play for fouls. Amongst the worst performances I have seen from an opposition who tried every dirty trick in the book to stop us playing
Whilst there has definitely been a real sense of ‘End of season’ performances from recent opposition, four wins on the bounce and three clean sheets are certainly welcomed. Building any sort of momentum and eating away at the lead can only be a mental boost to the group as summer approaches.
Praise should be given to Nikola Katic, Jon Flanagan and Steven Davis who (amongst others) have clearly began to fight for their futures here. The manager warned that every player was playing ‘for their futures’ and it is nice to see them responding.
Whilst still raw around the edges at times, the return of Katic to the backline has brought that comfortable look that the defence once had. He is definitely one for the future but he has certainly staked his claim for the seasons end and given the manager food for thought in terms of next season. He is extremely dangerous in the opposition box also as we consistently see
Sadly the manager has went very public in his criticism for individuals after the recent Liverpool bounce match. Four nil down at half time against Liverpool the manager removed Eros Grezda, Borna Barisic, Lassana Coulibaly and Kyle Lafferty. None of the four would be involved in the squad on Sunday and it certainly appears that the writing is on the wall in terms of their Ibrox futures.
What is clear with the manager and a word he uses frequently is Attitude. Whilst the manager would go out his way to arrange a favour from Liverpool to get the game on, he was rightly furious at the effort he got from those four in particular. When players are downing tools, not tracking back, actively avoiding challenges and hiding in plain sight effectively, the manager will not accept it
You either get on board and give him 100% or you will very quickly get on the wrong side of him. Now we can argue whether or not the manager has handled this well but perhaps it is a final warning to try and motivate these players.
I tend to think that no matter what is going on getting hauled off at ht in a bounce game, for attitude and application problems, may just spell the end of said players time here at Rangers
Positively the replacements of Lee Wallace, Glenn Middleton, Josh McPake and Dapo Mebude turned in a solid second half to help the team recover and draw 4-4 (goals from Middleton, McPake and two for Mebude)
That performance from Lee Wallace allowed him a brief cameo in the team and a moving reception from the supporters on Sunday. No matter what has happened it was fitting that he was at least given that
Moving on and the summer transfer speculation has certainly ramped up a notch. Well saying that is probably a stretch because it has been crazy for several weeks, hard to think it is only now the first day in May!
The big news recently has been links with Andre Gray of Watford. We know there is definite truth to the interest but, as I said on our twitter, I genuinely can’t see how this one will be possible. He’s a £20m player in the EPL with Watford and a regular squad wise, I don’t see any benefit in them letting us have him on loan. It would be remarkable if we could pull off that type of deal
Similar links to names like Danny Welbeck, Lewis Holtby and Timm Klose remain in the forefront of rumours so it is encouraging at least that we seem to be aiming high.
One name I previously mentioned is the Man Utd cb Axel Tuanzebe, currently on loan at Aston Villa. Rangers have watched the player several times and I understand are extremely interested. Again I’m not sure on this one, is he realistic because he will be highly thought of in an English market which is hugely inflated in terms of fees
Another player we have been told about is Mama Balde of Sporting Lisbon. The right sided wing back, or winger, is another who we have watched several times and stories go as far as suggesting that the player has even been over to the training ground to look around, though that is unconfirmed. What we also know is the club is actively scouting in that area of Europe and busy watching several games involving the Western European countries
(This is not to be confused with the young 16 year old Umaro Balde who has been over on trial)
With Jordan Jones done, Jake Hastie set to be formally announced any day and Greg Stewart also all but done, it certainly seems Rangers are turning attentions to more genuine first team talent and I say that with no disrespect to the players named.
But it’s fair to say that some of the names I have seen linked and some already divulged are a significant step up in ambition to the aforementioned. Last summer we had Leiva, Skrtel and Defoe so this could be similar speculation, should certainly be viewed upon as that but it is, if anything, at least exciting speculation
I remain convinced that we are in for a summer of exciting rumours and exciting arrivals at our club. Seems to me that Rangers are approaching the summer with real intent and hopefully we will land some of the big names mentioned or at least players of similar quality
One thing is clear from recent weeks is that our manager is someone who gets what our club is all about and is desperate to take us back to the levels we demand. The Gerrard factor can’t be underestimated and perhaps when he said, ‘players will be interested in coming here and playing a part in our legacy’, just perhaps he knew more than he was letting on…..
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise