Victory over Aberdeen on Saturday was the most complete and impressive victory this season so far. It had determination, tempo, style, desire and skill which has been lacking consistently this season.
I had just, last week, said I didn’t relate to this Rangers side with performances way below standard, this was much more like the levels required.
Even with defensive injury set backs, Van Bronckhorst confirming Ridvan would miss the next few weeks with a hamstring strain and Ben Davies taken off as a precaution which he could not risk, Rangers turned around a one goal deficit with the kind of spirit and determination we have not seen consistently enough from his side.
In recent weeks I’ve asked the manager directly if his players still believed in him and his leadership, performances like that will stop those questions and any dissenting voices sounding. He’s been pressed and pushed in the press conferences to the point where I have asked on tempo, performance, tactics, selections as well as the above and he’s handled it all with absolute class and never dodged a question once.
Everytime he has agreed with the complaints and demanded more from his players, he’s never once bitten back or dismissed the question. John Lundstram said that performance was for him given the protection he has given the players.
Domestically the record stands up well and legitimately we can point to that in his favour. But there is several negatives which mean for many they have lost confidence. I’ve spoken about that at length previously and I don’t see the need to cover that again.
The bottom line is that one swallow doesn’t make a summer. I have a long way to go before I can be convinced that this manager and team can deliver the title and success which is required at this club. I desperately hope they can.
Performances like Saturday will silence those doubts and no matter what anyone will say, all anyone wants is a winning Rangers side. I want a successful Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and I want a successful squad.
Saturday was the benchmark for how good they can be. Now they must continue it.
John Lundstram said, I paraphrase, there was a need to have conversations with individuals at Rangers to remind them of their responsibilities and performance levels on the pitch.
On Saturday we definitely saw that reaction and the real positive is they recognise the criticisms from the fan base have merit. They have been booed off and accepted the reaction.
Heart, passion, desire are buzz words we cling on to as supporters and try to relate that to what we see on the pitch. It has a degree of truth to it also and what we as a fanbase want to see as a bare minimum.
One big example of this came on Saturday on the 38th minute when Leon King snapped into a sliding challenge brilliantly and won it cleanly. The reaction from the crowd transmitted onto the pitch. A minute later Rangers had a guilt edge chance through Fashion Sakala which was saved and then a moment later a cut back deflected over. Then the second goal came and it was thoroughly deserved but driven on by that sliding tackle.
Things like that is key and as much as it lifts the crowd it then can lift the team. So they may be buzz words, but that’s what fan’s see and we haven’t seen enough of it. I will never accept defeats we have saw this calendar year, especially in Old Firm games, but if this squad really do want to kick on then giving us that desire may go a long way, the evidence is clear.
A few people have been asking on injuries and a frustration that the club aren’t more transparent. This is simply a management decision, no time frames are given, in longer situations, to avoid them being missed or players being out longer.
The frustration of Glen Kamara for example, twice in recent weeks I asked for updates and they are less than clear. ‘Available next game, he hasn’t made this one’ then he misses the next one also (Aberdeen) which leads to big frustration. When he will return remains a bit of a mystery and yes we have asked.
Ridvan has a hamstring strain so he will now be out until after the World cup break, usually 2-3 weeks for this. Kemar Roofe has an issue in the same calf as before and his diagnosis is also a few weeks, meaning after world cup for his return also. Both of these diagnoses confirmed by the manager in pressers.
John Souttar was injured in training, his return is scheduled for early next year, Connor Goldson, Ianis Hagi, Tom Lawrence are all the same timeframe given by the manager previously. Ryan Jack is unknown, Van Bronckhorst simply saying long term absence. Filip Helander is also scheduled for early next year and was also described as long term at the time. With any luck one or two may break the mould and return earlier than expected.
The manager has also told press previously James Tavernier has been treating a knock but was fine, he simply told us Ben Davies was ‘unavailable’ before also, then John Lundstram said he was playing through knocks on a podcast, which he confirmed Saturday he was now absolutely fine from.
There is no doubt we have been seriously unlucky with injuries and that has played a huge part in form and results. The frustration comes that the information from the club can be sketchy at best, very rarely do we get clear answers and we have asked several times. I understand also why we don’t say so this isn’t a criticism but more to explain the answers we have had.
The positives are most should begin to clear January time and that ties in with what Van Bronckhorst is saying regarding accessing the squad and what we need or may need signing wise.
So perhaps people have a point with injuries and the calibre of players has majorly affected us. Perhaps others have a point with the criticism and levels of performance we have seen this season regardless.
Saturday now is the benchmark, that’s how to answer the critics and more importantly get this club back to where we need to be.
Rangers performing is all anyone wants. Rangers winning is what we all desire.
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