Threats, emails, statements.
It was all consigned to history as Scottish football got back to business yesterday. We took the trip north to face Aberdeen which is always, traditionally, a difficult trip and it turned out to be a game which we had to grind out at times.
Rangers were completely in control and were never troubled by their opposition. A lack of striker meant Aberdeen were reduced to playing football, instead of big punts forward. It was never likely to work, they spent large parts of the game camped behind the ball.
It was a lovely goal to win the game, the short goal kick to force Aberdeen out and then the quick ‘counter’ like break forward. Alfredo’s part in the goal really shouldn’t be understated and Kents finish really was perfect. Ryan Kent was excellent, he looked busy and he looked willing to try and influence the final third of our game. If we are to be serious about challenging for silverware then both Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi must get double figure numbers in terms of assists and goals.
Leon Balogun and Connor Goldson strolled it. Balogun reminds me quickly of Madjid Bougherra with his pace, style and bursting runs forward. He already looks an assured player for us. We have seen enough of the four summer signings to think our business so far has been on point, with that, Ross Wilson and the management deserve credit. As we know at Rangers though it’s better to judge after three months and give players the time they need to settle.
However, there was phases of play I thought we reverted too much into the style which causes us problems. For me, we have to try and move the ball quicker and we have to try not be so passive where we take three moves when one will have done it. That’s as tactical as I will ever get but it seemed to me we lacked that drive from the middle which looked pedestrian at times.
I don’t think the dynamic of the midfield looks correct, two of the three playing yesterday aren’t comfortable in the final third and when you are playing teams that sit in, more often than not, we are left looking short of something. There is a drive and dynamic missing, maybe it’s as little as a small tweak needed.
When you look back on the game, we are extremely comfortable and never in danger. The nervousness is more to do with the fragility of previous seasons where we would have lost that goal. In reality we were in no danger here at all and our opponents are a very poor side. So perhaps I’m being too harsh as it is only game one and as the manager said we still need to get up to speed.
It’s three points, we are up and running at a venue which is traditionally difficult. It’s early in the season and the performances will come so at the moment it’s the points that matter only.
So for that reason we should be delighted to get the points and I don’t think we need to be overthinking things too much more than general observations. If Aribo tucks that second away it’s probably as easy a victory as I’ve ever seen at Pittodrie, without it, it probably still is anyway. Rumour has it our GK hoped on the bus without a drop of sweat lost all afternoon.
On Thursday against Leverkusen it’s a free hit without pressure. We can go and enjoy the game, express ourselves and see what happens. They will be open and if we can defend well then there is always an opportunity we can break away. Personally I think it’s out of our reach but I wouldn’t bet against us scoring a goal or two because we have proven to be capable in Europe under this management.
Yesterday marked the beginning of our formal relationship with Castore and the end of a partnership that didn’t benefit us in any way. The less said about that the better but we can now know that any purchase directly benefits the club, even more so if it’s directly to the club via shop or website.
Castore must be judged now on what they produce, a few teething problems are all to be expected but in the long run this will benefit the club massively. The potential of five million pounds (plus!) of new income should be welcomed with open arms.
It is of some standings that Tom Beahon, co-founder of Castore, should call me yesterday morning to pass on his best wishes to the support for the season. Yeah it was a wee bit surreal but speaks volumes that he wants to have a relationship with the fans and promised further interviews going forward. That level of integrity should be welcomed.
The first thing I mentioned to Tom was that I was no longer ‘fan media’ incase there was any issues for him. However that was also no problem for him and he has appreciated the relationship we already had from previous interviews.
Despite suggestions otherwise, it has been myself who has contacted and arranged interviews with Castore after initial contact. It is extremely heartening that relationship should continue and for us supporters it is an avenue to exploit should anything need to be asked in an urgent fashion.
I am not here to spread propaganda for Castore and we should absolutely judge them on what they can deliver. But having that engagement with our site is something we should enjoy and can only take at face value.
Transfer rumours are hotting up with the manager confirming we are close to new signings.
Rumours of a new striker deal being done began to surface on Friday night with a number of players being linked. Roofe, Taylor, Shankland and Nsame all amongst those linked but the truth is it could be any of them or none of them at all. Ross Wilson has done great work in ensuring any news is kept as tightly guarded as possible. We do need new striking options and it seems almost inevitable that Alfredo Morelos will leave the club.
Alfredo has shown some sensational form for us but I do feel now might be the right time for him to move on. Sure that might be a controversial opinion but Alfredo hasn’t shown that explosive side of his game since arguably last year. I worry that the player’s head is elsewhere and if that is the case then the outcome to me is inevitable, especially when we are allowing his agent to negotiate deals with other clubs.
It will be difficult to replace him, we will have to suddenly find a way to supplement those goal involvements and goals scored. But if our club can get that huge deal we seem to be holding out for, then it may benefit us to the tune of three players that could hugely boost our squad. It may also provide the club with working capital and a nice wee sum of money in our bank account.
It’s a huge gamble selling your top player but when circumstances come together then sometimes it’s the only choice. I expect it to happen, that grumpy little face and trademark knee slide will be hugely missed.
How we replace him could define our season.
Transfer silence becomes slightly more difficult when foreign transfer are involved and it now seems almost inevitable Bongani Zungu will join for around £3.5m from French side Amiens. The South African midfielder is a somewhat unknown quantity for me and from what I have seen stat wise he seems a dynamic box to box player which, when you see our midfield yesterday, makes absolute sense.
However that is a huge fee for our club so we have to make sure it’s the right one and as Ross Wilson begins to put his marker on our squad we must trust his judgement and that of our manager.
IF it gets over the line and that seems a certainty by reports, he seems to be in Manchester according to social media, then he will need time and patience to settle in. If he can just give us that little something different, that drive from midfield, then he may just add a dynamic that I feel our middle lacks.
If he signs then it’s an interesting one and a deal to keep an eye on to see if it gets over line.
I’d expect if he does come in then two forwards would complete our transfer business. We already need a striker but with Alfredo situation two seems now a necessity.
When the manager names nine subs and doesn’t use them yesterday (Arfield aside) you begin to wonder just how much trust he has in them.
For the likes of Greg Docherty, Jordan Jones (heavily linked to Stoke and a move to the English Championship) perhaps even Ross McCrorie then it seems likely their futures will be away from the club. Young players like Lewis Mayo, Jamie Barjonas and even Dapo Mabude could head for experience with loans out the club also.
So there is still plenty of business to be done for the club and with an extended window some unexpected deals may come up. As supporters it’s our favourite time and we should all enjoy it.
The club have done good work so far but the vital work, for me, is just beginning and that work may very well be defining.
But for now it’s on to Leverkusen, the games come thick and fast for us now.
Coming up on the blog will be weekly scribbles and with our new collaboration with 5stars we will have podcasts with the likes of Arthur Numan and Kris Boyd over the next few months. Our monthly podcast has recorded already with Bob Malcolm and Pieter Huistra so they will be available over the next few months on a one a month basis from Chris, Mhairi and myself.
Pre season has been positive, three points yesterday greatly welcomed.
Let’s continue to get behind the team and management on the pitch.
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise 🔴⚪️🔵