A new season and already Rangers are setting the standard.
On Saturday the Champions swept Livingston aside in what has now become a routine league performance. Rangers are at the stage we could only have dreamed of years ago. A stage where we have so much quality that we dominate on our own terms. To the point that the only problems being caused, are that which we cause ourselves. That’s not trying to be arrogant because we will face huge challenges from some good sides, more a belief that if we are on our game then we can control the outcome how we want.
Goals from Ianis Hagi, Scott Wright and Kemar Roofe sent Rangers off and running for this season. It was a routine win, all the ball and all the possession, even if we did go through a passive period which Steven Gerrard described as us ‘Over complicating’ things.
Livi offered no threat and barely any resistance. When Rangers did solve our own issues, we were able to get the goals to close out the game. Lundstram and Roofe began to inject some drive into the team and this in turn brought the rewards.
Helander, Barisic, Arfield, McGregor, Morelos, Defoe, Patterson, Itten, Jack, Wright, Roofe, Lundstram. Some of the squad which didn’t start the game on Saturday, albeit three would come on as a sub, and a small demonstration of the strength and depth Rangers now possess.
It’s that strength and depth that could be telling this season when we can bring such quality into the team. Rangers must beware of over confidence and letting our standards slip however. We have to ensure we can be our fluent best as much as possible.
The only team that can stop Rangers is Rangers themselves.
It’s game one though and it’s bound to take Rangers a while to get up to speed, especially with so many still to return to the side and some catching up after international duty.
But we have to make sure that come Tuesday night we are focused and ready to go. Malmo will be a tough test but it’s one we should be more than capable of passing. The squad will be shuffled again and those coming in will give themselves a right good opportunity.
Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe will be suspended, Ianis Hagi now has a knock, so immediately there is some tweaking to be done. John Lundstram and Scott Wright done themselves no harm with their claim to start the game. Lundstram is strong and intelligent, he moves the ball well and with purpose. Scott Wright is bright and has a real intelligence on the ball, he’s a work in progress but I think he has the ability to become a real key member of the squad in time.
It would be easy to get caught up in the hysteria of being Champions, being complacent and laughing at our rivals who once again proved themselves to be in an enjoyable state of disrepair. We can’t allow that to happen. It’s week one of the season but already by the end of August we have the opportunity to clinch a Champions League spot and put ourselves in a good league position.
Yes it’s early and yes it’s game by game, but with focus we could put ourselves right on track for another enjoyable season.
It’s that strength and depth, previously mentioned, that has got me wondering just how good this squad are.
Rangers will and always should be judged on trophies and success, so with that said it has a long way to go before it reaches the levels of some of the teams I have seen in my lifetime. Souness, Smith, Advocaat, McLeish and then second Smith era all produced wonderful teams with sensational players.
So where is this squad in all that? The answer is it won’t be judged until they, hopefully, deliver more silverware and begin to consistently become the team to beat.
On paper however, this squad has arguably the potential to be as good as any. That’s a big claim granted, they have to deliver the trophies now and dominate for a sustained period but they have all the armoury to do so.
The strength in squad and the ‘evolution’ of quality is extremely high. In Goals we easily have the two best goalkeepers in the squad and one of the brightest young talents also.
In defence we have four excellent full backs and five centre backs. All those players are capable of starting and in a squad that is so strong, it’s almost crazy to think that Niko Katic could be fifth choice in that centre back area.
In the middle we have a squad of internationals with a blend of experience and youth. Davis, Lundstram, Aribo, Kamara, Jack, Arfield, Ofoborh and Kelly. That’s outrageous balance of talent and for someone like Stephen Kelly, who had such a sensational pre-season, it is a huge challenge to even get on the bench. He deserves playing time and it’s no slight on him because I like him a lot, but it shows just how strong we are.
Up front we have went from having Alfredo all on his own to a strike force with a plethora of options. Morelos, Itten, Roofe, Defoe, Sakala, Kent, Wright, Hagi in no order of preference. We can only choose three of them.
That’s why on paper it’s a strong argument that depth wise we are as well prepared as any before in my lifetime. Are they as good individually as the nine in a row team or Smith’s second title team, Advocaat’s double league side or big Ecks treble winners? Only trophies and more silverware will compel me to argue that point. We are more than equipped however.
Look at Scott Wright for example. A player who, only in six months since joining, has embraced the club and grown significantly so far. Sure he has some strides to go but you can already see why Rangers swooped for the player. Most people will know I like the look of him as a player, he’s tricky and has skills but he also needs time. You saw on Saturday he’s desperate to make an impression and it’s that desire which will keep standards high to hopefully drive us on.
Do we need more signings?
The answer for me is we should always look to strengthen and be on the look out for quality players. We can be patient, quality over quantity. We have seen what complacency can do so let’s continue to be busy and I think what happens in Europe will have a huge bearing on our season. One more midfielder or a tricky winger could be a possibility, we know who has been linked, but a new contract for Goldson and Kamara etc would be just as good for me. Whatever happens we are in a good position to be ready for all eventualities.
This has been three years and £30 million pound of investment. We have all the tools to become a really great Rangers side, ignore everything else and focus on ourselves.
Finally a look at another fantastic Rangers book to buy. Stuart Thomson and Stan Gordon, who do a power of charity work for many outstanding causes, have put together a fantastic book of supporters stories about our club.
‘Follow we will’ https://www.followwewill.com/
‘With Rangers fans celebrating their 55th Scottish league success all over the world, how apt that a new fans book ‘Follow We Will’ is now available. With individual stories from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland and all over the UK, the consistent theme, is passion, loyalty, commitment, mixed in with unbreakable friendships and a few shenanigans from all over the globe.
Covering games from Nuremberg 67, to Liege 2020, fans share their unique stories. Some will make you laugh, cry and possibly cringe. If you support Rangers or follow Rangers away, you will want to read this. Foreword by ex- player John ‘ Bomber ‘ Brown’
Brilliant stories and well worth a read, both men have thoroughly supported the blog and I can’t speak highly enough of them. This is well worth checking out.
As for Rangers it’s time to focus and get going. As always with our club, it’s big games, big challenges and every moment counts. But what else would you rather?
This is Rangers, we are Champions and now we go again. We have had huge moments, huge titles and this journey started with ‘Let’s go’, now ‘let’s go’ all over again.
Good luck to the squad and management team with huge fixtures coming up. We’ll be Wright there with you, Ready.