A much less encouraging performance than the previous two at Ibrox. A 3-1 highlighted some clear weaknesses within the team. There were a couple of bright sparks but nothing to get overly excited about. Rangers fans definitely went home disappointed last night.
Let’s look at five takeaways from last nights game.
Sam Lammers Will Get Incredible Numbers This Season
His play is just so effortless at times. He beats defenders with ease and is always positive on the ball. This clip from the first half shows how impressive his close control is;
He starts the move and immediately looks to get the ball back. He’s so comfortable going inside and outside that he takes the defender for a spin. The fact he’s ambidextrous means he can create space and just have a shot like he did here.
Then later in the game, he plays the ball out wide to Ridvan and continues his run into the box. Ridvan finds him with a terrific pass and he almost finishes a brilliant one-two on his right foot;
He didn’t score last night but he has great efforts with both feet that were well saved. Ignore his previous goal record, he’ll score for fun at Rangers.
He also created the chance which led to the penalty. A lovely pass slid through the defence to Cantwell who was then ‘fouled’ by the goalkeeper.
Sam Lammers will score and create this season, I’m excited to see how his number look by the end of it.
Read more of my thoughts on him here.
A Much More Positive Abdallah Sima Performance
Last night was definitely a more encouraging display from the Senegalese forward. He was direct and much more confident on the ball. The improvement in his link-up play was particularly noticeable. He linked especially well with the midfield and Lammers during the game.
He possesses excellent pace and is a very strong runner. His final delivery, especially from crosses, still needs work but his decision making in general was much improved.
He may lose his place in the first eleven to Danilo but he could be a great option for Rangers this season. His pace and power off of the bench could be key in games Rangers are needing a goal.
He came in for a lot of criticism over his previous two performance at Ibrox. Hopefully his display last night settled the nerves of some fans.
Defensive Indecision Costs Rangers Again
Some of the same defensive issues from last season have arisen again in preseason. There are the times where the players turn themselves into trouble and continually make the wrong passing decisions. Players holding on to the ball for too long is a particular issue, Michael Beale obviously wants players to play short, sharp and incisive passes, but certain players still haven’t bought into this over his tenure.
Particular offenders for this are John Lundstram and Borna Barisic. They are hesistant in possession and slow Rangers forward play down, it’s been very frustrating to watch since the managers arrival. It just doesn’t seem like they get it and I’d imagine it frustrates Michael Beale as much as it frustrates the fans.
Another defensive issue is the lack of tracking of the midfield runners. Rangers conceded a few goals last season from the edge of the box when runners weren’t tracked and two of the goals last night stemmed from the same issue. It’s a defensive basic, don’t let someone stride towards the box unmarked and with no pressure on them.
Borna Barisic Needs to go
I don’t even think this is being harsh. Defensively he was awful last night and he didn’t provide anything going forward to make up for it. The ball over the top of his head for the second goal was so poor. It’s basic defending, the Croatian had absolutely no idea where his man was and was left completely lost and floundering.
It’s been the same issue since his arrival at the club, he’s a glaring defensive weakness. It cost Rangers big in Old Firm games recently as he was terrorised by Liel Abada. For a professional defender, his positioning is truly horrific, so often he leaves the winger in acres of space because he has no idea where they are.
It’s honestly pathetic at times and just leave you shaking your head at what is happening before your eyes. Ridvan isn’t an incredible defender by any means but one on one he’s miles ahead of Barisic. Positionally he’s not caught out by the same thing, every single time. Then going forward, it took Ridvan less than two minutes to create a clear cut chance last night, better than Barisic offered in the previous 60 odd minutes.
Based off of last nights performance, I really hope no teams interested in him were watching. At this point, I would take anywhere from £1-2m for him.
The Goalkeeper Scenario?
This was a really confusing one for me. Robby McCrorie has said he wants to leave to get first team football elsewhere and Jon McLaughlin had chances last season and disappointed. I haven’t question many things, if anything, that Michael Beale has done so far but this one was a head scratcher.
Surely when your first choice is new to the club, you want him to get as many minutes as possible to gel with the defenders? For me, it made no sense to give Jack Butland zero minutes. Why did he sit on the bench the whole night? What was there to gain from playing McCrorie and McLaughlin?
The only logical thing that makes sense was to put them in the shop window. Even at that, surely getting Butland to build a rapport with his defence is more important? How did you feel about that decision? Did it confuse you as much as it confused me?
The only players I would give pass marks to last night were John Souttar, Sam Lammers and probably Kieran Dowell. Defensively I’m worried, the same issues from last season are still there and Rangers conceded two from it last night.
There were some encouraging play in the build up but it’s clear that there’s still work to be done there too. On paper, this is an incredibly exciting Rangers side, it just hasn’t come together on the pitch, just yet.
There’s one more friendly to come away to Hoffenheim on Saturday then the real stuff begins a week from them. How confident are you for the upcoming season right now?
You can listen to the managers post match thoughts here.