A reminder that before we get into this that I am not writing this team off, nor is Saturday suddenly cause to panic. However, unless you are deliberately refusing to acknowledge it, I’m worried there is fundamental issues that the manager has to sort immediately.
Amongst the fanfare of Giovanni Van Bronckhorst appointment came some appearances from Feyenoord fans on fan media. They warned of a safe manager who’s football was defensive based and not always good on the eye. Whilst opinion is never everything or the absolute, it has quickly become apparent that they may have had a point.
I asked the manager post PSV if we had a tempo issue and if we are starting halves in the correct manner. He dismissed me out of question and refused to consider it an issue. Privately he may think differently and I hope he does because if he doesn’t then we have major issues on our hands.
This isn’t suddenly a knee Jerk reaction, most who follow this blog will remember me writing this in the January window and in April also. It’s a constant concern.
Anyone can see that our game plan is a patient and possession style that grinds teams down but this is the issue with a style like that, it can very quickly become all too easy to combat. At home Rangers will almost always find a way because quality and possession will eventually tell. I’ve spoken on this before and I can’t suddenly complain now but I can’t help but consider we have to change our approach somewhat. This is why:
Away from home it’s a different story and Hibs, alongside Livingston, both had various things in common. One was a slow start which barely forces the goalkeeper into any action and the other issue a reluctance to force the game in front of goal.
The issue with possession based football is it can very quickly become passive side to side style that is slow and with no tempo at all. It’s almost like we will take our time and get there eventually without having to force it too much. I feel we are falling into the trap almost with ease.
That’s what I see from this Rangers team and a fact to prove that is that we have failed to score in the first thirty minutes in our last ten games. Even worse and I don’t need stats for this, at Easter Road our first shot on target was the penalty kick.
The lack of cutting edge and the lack of intensity in our game is startling, failing to test the goalkeeper and generate any momentum seems a real struggle. The issue is that failing to kill games off and impose ourselves is costing us.
It’s overkill and a safety first approach which clubs are now realising that if they stay in games and then have a go, anything is possible. I watch this team and see a slow workmanlike style. The handbrake on and it’s seeping into the players visibly in performance also. There is a real reluctance to shoot and a real reluctance to force the play.
Now it isn’t all tactics, on Saturday two glaring opportunities for Ryan Kent and Tom Lawrence were passed up when the obvious option should have been to shoot. We don’t take enough shots and it’s obvious but stuff like that costs us because we can’t hold onto leads.
It comes as no surprise that when we do move it quickly and force the play with attacking football, see PSV first goal and our second at Hibs, that we are capable of doing wonderful things. Frustratingly we never seem to start games with that tempo and it’s often fleeting rather than the normality during games.
Already away from home in Giovanni’s reign we have seen Dundee Utd, Aberdeen, Ross County and now Hibs take points in games where our passivity has cost us. Our European away form, where we defend and hope to counter, has also encountered problems and very nearly cost us in Belgium recently. In amongst that, nearly games away to St Johnstone, Dundee and Livi almost brought the same results but we got away with it.
My worry, which I can’t get away from, is that unless Gio changes his outlook then we will continue to drop points in games where we should be imposing our quality. This isn’t supposed to be a scathing attack on Gio either, I’m merely seeing a pattern which concerns me and one I fear must be changed.
The lack of intensity and passive football is costing us repeatedly. Giovanni must address it quickly, otherwise it will cost him and us more than just points.
IF recent stories about Glen Kamara are true and there is solid interest from the likes of Nice then Rangers have to majorly consider their options. But, and here is my major stipulation in all this, Gio must be allowed to spend the entirety on one or two quality replacements.
Now this Board know what they are doing and I trust they are creating a safety net for years to come, I get that. We have brought in around £35 million pounds in player sales, of which around £25 million was immediately into the clubs accounts. We have spent a mere £11m in total and that’s not to include European income.
We need two players of quality. One a centre midfielder that is different to the various defensive midfielders we have, we need a threat that can play progressively and attack next to John Lundstram. We also need more options in attack and from wide, a proper right sided winger is still an issue. Not to mention a Central defence which may also need reinforcements depending on what is going on injury wise.
Whilst I agree that we must be prudent, there is an argument that Gio isn’t the only one who has to take the handbrake off. IF we bring in £8-10m, which is reportedly what it would take for Kamara to leave, then we have no need to bank any of it, it would seem.
At some point, if we really want to add the players that may address the issues above, then we will have to spend. If Kamara does go then that point is almost certainly upon us.
Finally, the officiating on Saturday. Most know I’m an amateur referee who can be found on a field most weekends. That doesn’t make me an authority on anything nor does it make me correct, but it gives me a small idea of all the football laws and ten years of experience.
John Lundstram’s red card was absolutely pathetic and changed the game. VAR will be a God send when such incompetence can be rectified. It doesn’t fit any red card criteria and the fact that the tackle on Lundstram in the first half was even worse, merely highlights the frustration. Just look at the incident in Newcastle yesterday and how VAR correctly acted, it was a much worse tackle than the ludicrous red Lunny received.
Alfredo was ridiculous for two reasons. I’ll get to him in a minute. It’s not violent conduct and is petulant, there’s no aggression in the action, it’s clearly a petulant motion. In fact he’s been here before and won appeals for worse actions on the pitch, it may be worth considering that.
The truth is Collum can’t wait to make it all about him, a guy that sent off Daniel Candeias for celebrating a last minute goal at St Mirren. He gives himself zero time to think with his aggressive style, he had lectured Alfredo twice before the incident (pointing at his chest like a little head master) and couldn’t wait to get his card out.
Rangers must consider appealing both reds and equally they must seriously challenge this whistlers ability to fairly officiate our games. His incompetence is there for all to see. We won the Scottish cup final in spite of his best efforts and he missed a glaring Hearts red in that also, funnily enough also worse than John Lundstram’s offence.
Now for Alfredo. Some may not like this but my feelings is quite clear.
Alfredo’s attitude is an absolute disgrace. He has done the bare minimum and returned to pre season out of shape once more. He’s now a veteran of this team and should know better yet his reaction on Saturday was to laugh and find it funny. At times he is incredibly selfish and it infuriates me. To put his team in that situation is genuinely shameful.
Alfredo is a wonderful player and capable of being a superb striker, but at times he is an absolute brat. The brat came out on Saturday and despite a referee who couldn’t wait, at what point is he going to grow up? Don’t put yourself in that situation!
It’s always on his terms, it’s always when he feels like it and at some point he’s going to have to seriously consider where he is in all this. Anyone who pays attention will have seen James Tavernier’s post match frustrations with him.
He’ll bounce back, he’ll hit form and he’ll be the darling of us all once more. I’ll be called an idiot for daring to criticise him. It happened last time I dared speak out and merely months later we are back in the same place having the same discussion.
Ask yourself this though: should we really have to wait months into the season for Alfredo to be ready and seemingly only when he feels like it? An infuriating situation for someone who should be such a fabulous weapon for this club and not just when he decides to make the effort.
He’s letting everyone down.
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