Pre-season done for another year and Rangers finished it on the ultimate high beating Real Madrid last night at Ibrox. It meant just as much as any other friendly but there was massive amounts to take from the occasion as a whole.
First of all and probably the most important, Rangers look ready to go all over the pitch. We know that most of the hard work has been done in Gerrard’s three years previously and you can see that because this team know exactly how to perform in this system.
Everyone is aware of their jobs, everyone is aware of what is expected of them and everyone knows the standards that are required. The management have spoken before about the hard work that has went in to knowing the shape we want to play and it is clear all the players buy into our philosophy.
Then there is the hard work and application of the players. Systems only work if the players buy into it and it’s clear Rangers have created a culture that the players thoroughly enjoy. You could see that last night and even though it was a friendly, we had our game faces on.
That for me is impressive, clearly when we are told to sharpen up and it’s time to focus, we respond properly to that. It was clear to me that even though it was a friendly match, Rangers had clicked into their old habits and looked completely switched on. It was like we had changed from exhibition or fitness mode and were taking the attitude we will need, when the real action starts, into last night in preparation for next week.
Rangers have built from a position of strength and I genuinely feel that if we can keep up the good habits and basis we have built in the last few years then we are the strongest position going forward. If the application and performance is anything like last night then we will be absolutely fine with some great matches ahead this season.
A lot has been said this summer about Rangers ‘apparent’ lack of investment and paying no transfer fees this summer. As usual the shouts have been louder from those that don’t matter, but it’s highlighted something I think is important to look at from our point of view.
Everyone loves a big summer signing, we all love that buzz and that excitement. That might still happen and we might have to look forward too, the only people that know that are those in management at Ibrox. But the point is there is absolutely no harm in doing what we are doing and what we have done has been excellent so far.
First of all, Scott Wright and Jack Simpson have arrived early in January which was earmarked for the summer. That has allowed them time to ‘bed in’ and you can already see the benefits especially with Scott Wright who will be a really effective player for us. I realise Jack Simpson has had some ‘grumbles’ but our centre backs take time to learn our game, look at Connor Goldson for example, so we need to be patient and I think Gerrard has earned the trust to let him decide who is a player and who isn’t.
Then Nnamdi Ofoborh has also arrived for the midfield and obviously he’s had a harsh set back but we look forward to seeing him when he is fit and well, his health coming first. So that’s three excellent deals before we have really even ‘started’.
Then there is John Lundstram who has come from the Premier League and every bit a player that would cost millions had we not got him on a ‘Bosman’ deal. He has immediately looked classy in his touch and passing. The big thing for me is that I think he will cut out a lot of ‘second balls’ and be good in the recovery phases, even in pre-season he has shown that. He still has a bit more to go before he gets fully sharp but I’m excited to see him perform more for us in the coming season.
Then there is Fashion Sakala. He’s going to be exciting and having watched quite a lot of his clips from his previous teams, I have instantly been excited from what I have seen. Plus he is a forward and everyone gets excited by attackers more than any other position, who doesn’t love a goal scorer?
Sure we have only saw a small cameo, but he is lively and exciting. Steven Gerrard said we need to ‘polish the diamond’ and that is exactly spot on, but he has raw pace and backs himself to be exciting on the pitch. Even last night we saw how much he done that, taking players on, using his pace in one on one situations as well as scoring a superb goal. He will do well for us. He is exciting and I am excited to see more of him.
So Rangers haven’t spent a transfer fee yet? Who cares when we are doing business like that? The fact is our club have taken years to get here and that infrastructure we have put in place is now being rewarded.
Ross Wilson and Steven Gerrard clearly know a player and now that we have the process in place we can watch for these type of deals. The board have spent big the last three years to accelerate our recovery and can’t keep funding big summers whilst losing money. That’s the reality so we have to be ‘shrewd’ in the market like we have been. If we are spending money then we can afford to wait for the right deal on our terms and take our time.
That’s from a position of strength with a proper infrastructure in place. We are in a very good place and no amount of noise will change that.
The board deserve huge credit and praise for their support of the club, the plan they put in place and had the vision to believe in it, now we are seeing the rewards.
I have been fortunate to see all three home games this pre-season with ‘media access’ being allowed by the club for these games. I realise I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity and it has been a fantastic insight.
If you want to read my match report from last night you can see it here https://fourladshadadream.blog/2021/07/25/super-rangers-beat-real-and-show-class-never-goes-out-of-fashion/
It’s a light hearted ‘fan’ look at things and I hope to produce that extra bit of content for the games I do get allowed to attend. The club have been absolutely fantastic with me and I am loving every minute.
Having a season ticket I am at all home games but this is watching ‘differently’ so I am still learning how to write reports but I hope people enjoy them and realise they are a but of fun. I don’t want to do same as the club, so I’ve tried to make it all fun and give everyone an insight into access with small videos of the games.
I realise I am very privileged so hopefully people enjoy the blog coverage and it would never be possible without all those that follow it, you make it what it is. Thank you all.
So with the season set to start I’m confident we are ready to go. There is still a few twists to come and I have no doubts we will have clubs come calling for our top players. Even the glimpses we have saw in pre-season, Glen Kamara belongs on the top stage. He had a superb Euro’s and he is getting better and better. England is watching with a number of premiership teams scouting him. I can’t see it being long before someone seriously comes in and tests our resolve.
Then there is Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent. Alfredo will leave at some point, without stating the obvious, and I agree with Gerrard in that it has become tiresome. He’s our player and if you want him then pay the relevant fee otherwise don’t waste our time. I don’t want it to happen but if a big team do come calling, then as long as it suits Rangers, he will go with my best wishes. I will follow him wherever he goes.
As for Ryan Kent, well what can you say? He’s a lad who is getting better and better but he’s also starting to really flourish and grow. He is dominating defences and becoming Rangers star threat, teams are terrified of his ability. Ryan Kent is absolutely phenomenal and players like him don’t come around often, he has the all the ability to go right to the top but his time at Rangers isn’t over by a long way. He can get better and when that team does come calling he will earn us a lot of money. That run yesterday was ‘Laudrup like’ and I’m not saying he is that level, but it’s special players who can do that, Ryan Kent is special.
So we have all that to come potentially, but it’s fabulous to be in that position where we have those assets that teams want. We have a really strong team and I still think we have a signing or two of significance to come. There will be half a dozen to leave also but our squad is so strong throughout.
This hasn’t happened overnight and it’s taken years to get here. A lot of people will scoff at that and a lot still think this is Rangers of 2017. Auch Real Madrid it was their reserves and not impressive, it was still a team that is valued at over £200m mind you. Denial can only take you so far before you have to admit that we are Champions for a reason.
Rangers are in a good place, strength in squad is outstanding but now it is time to kick on and time to start dominating domestically. That is the target now, to really stamp our authority over every competition we enter. Europe is the big incentive for every player and the Champions League would bring those huge rewards for everyone.
The legacy has been created, 55 is here and the title is home. Now we kick on, now we cement our legacy and create new moments for our fantastic club.
This is Rangers, this is now and now we Go!