This time last season Steven Gerrard and his team began to shape the squad for the season ahead. Most of us wanted a closer finish to the league winners, some of us dreamed of the ultimate prize.
European dreams of group qualification and the riches that would bring were firmly at the forefront of everyone’s ambitions
Domestic silverware and finally beating our nearest rivals was also firmly on the agenda. Along the way the management had to stop a team leaking goals at an alarming rate, bring the passion back to our jersey and recruit players capable of understanding just what was needed to play at our club week in week out
With just weeks before the first European adventure the management team certainly had it all to do
At this point it really is worth pointing out just how bad a mess we were in last Summer as the management started. A job that was never going to be fixed in one window
15 players arrived, including a whole new spine to the team, and early European games were encouraging
European qualification was clinched in Russia when just nine men reached the group stages.
League progress was slow however and seven dropped points in the first five games was something which would ultimately hinder us till the very last game
Whilst the team suffered a lack of consistency domestically we picked ourselves up from a poor, late November early December, run to win the New Year old firm in convincing fashion. At this point we were level on points and hoping to kick on.
Our January business was good in the long run but instant results did not come and we quickly went from level to 8 points behind and this was another mountain to big to climb
Domestic cup performance was the major disappointment of the season with two defeats to a very poor Aberdeen side. Capable of shutting up shop, the team struggled and this became a worrying trend for points of the season
Whilst Europe can be counted as a success, the margins of qualification were extremely thin and the club just missed out on further progression. A run which took us 11 games unbeaten the team showed a lot of heart and spirit.
Our league performance has been crippled by inconsistency and ill discipline, too many times the team has under performed. This has cost us and the final quarter of the season shouldn’t disguise the fact that the team are still short of that consistency and quality required.
But for a team that was so poor and a team that required so much transformation it is heartening to see the strides taken.
The challenge was to close the gap, beat them domestically and put ourselves back on the map in Europe. The challenge of domestic silverware has faltered and the management must deliver that next season.
But where we are now is a very positive place and we can be confident that the gap this time is a lot smaller than before.
Last summer we needed a massive overhaul, this summer we require quality. There isn’t the need for 15 arrivals, the groundwork has been done for the squad.
I predict anywhere from 10-15 departures this summer, when you look at it in terms of those names who may be sold (Foderingham, Alnwick, Holt, Dodoo, Herrera) those who will be released (Hodson, Wallace, McAuley) those who will return to their clubs like Worrall, Kent and Coulibaly then add the likes of Grezda, Lafferty, Barisic and Morelos who will most likely be moved on.
Loan moves for both McCrorie brothers and Glenn Middleton also remain a realistic possibility and that’s before we consider the likes of Jordan Rossiter and Greg Docherty who have still to come back into the squad. When you look at it like that then the number of departures could be as high as those predicted.
With Jones, Hastie and Stewart all on their way in, then it is safe to assume they are being brought in to keep the squad numbers at a suitable level.
We will most likely sign another Goalkeeper to compete with McGregor and Firth should the keepers leave we have mentioned before.
We will replace Worrall and McCauley with Rangers firmly in the hunt for George Edmundson of Oldham, in a deal which may mirror the kind of one that Katic arrived last summer. I expect an older more experienced name to come in with him and most likely on a free. That then gives us the four centre backs required for the season. I now believe that we see the partnership of Goldson and Katic as being first choice going forward.
Left back remains a conundrum, whilst there is undoubted talent to Borna Barisic his best performances have came against us this season. Capped for Croatia I don’t see any reason why we would struggle to sell him and more than recoup our outlay. IF the club get that opportunity then I fully expect them to take that. Left back is a position I expect the club to spend on if that happens
Midfield now seems reasonably numbered with the arrivals of Kamara & Davis bearing fruit to be fully ready for next season. It is further forward where the manager may choose to change things up, I can see Arfield moving back and a quality addition joining to play where Arfield is playing now. That would give us options and quality going forward, with the expected arrival of Greg Stewart supporting that position when necessary
A wide player will also come in and it remains open to debate to whether that will be Ryan Kent or not, but what we do know is that Rangers have made a formal loan offer to Liverpool to take the player back to Ibrox for season 19/20. There is no formal response from anfield at this moment, so we wait on that. If he doesn’t return then the possibility of another Liverpool loan to take his place is likely.
That leaves us looking at striking options with so much interest in Alfredo Morelos. With teams now in active contact with the club I would be hugely surprised if the player doesn’t leave for pastures new. If we get that offer of big money then I don’t see him being here next season and at that moment I believe that bid looks likely.
Ill discipline has cost Morelos a lot this season, but when he has been on the pitch he has undoubtedly sparkled. The managements ability to get the best out of him and turn him into a multi million pound player remain amongst their greatest achievements this season.
Whilst the club are actively looking at the well publicised names of Welbeck, Gray and Tammy Abraham as viable options if Alfredo does indeed go, then it seems likely that replacing Morelos will be the star signing of the summer.
The club are readying itself for a big push to move up to the next level, both on and off the pitch. Significant investment in Ibrox is now underway with visible improvements becoming evident everyday. This blog has long since spoke of these developments and with millions invested on the roofs now complete, other areas are now getting the deserved attention it requires.
The Hummel training centre is also getting a much needed facelift, with significant changes for the players to bring it up to the required levels. The new stand, paid by the fans fighting fund, is now more than taking shape and will soon provide proper facilities for visitors at the training centre.
The manager has said we need quality this summer and I would expect three or four first team players to arrive of significant standing to fill his desires. The rest will balance the squad in relation to those that will leave.
We can look back on the season and be happy with the progress made. We can also look back and justifiably feel like, perhaps a year on in our development, we would have been better positioned to take advantage of opportunities given to us.
We are stronger than last summer, the ground work has been done but now it is time to take the club into the next level and I believe that we are perfectly positioned to do so
It’s a big summer ahead for the club but positivity is in the air for me regarding our future. We are beautifully positioned to take the next step necessary to return our club to where we belong and I believe we will do it
I wish you all a happy summer and I will be back with a summer transfer podcast next month, should the rumours and speculation pick up I will blog along the way also.
This season I presented the RYDC with a cheque for over £5500 and I have plans to continue to raise as much as possible including a live show at the end of August, so keep an eye out for that.
Thank you for all your help of those fundraising efforts and thank you all for your continued support
We have a fantastic club, a fantastic support, be proud and have a great summer
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