As a Rangers fan, last night was a tough watch. The shape seemed to be holding well, then Saibari had a chance, which Butland saved and the team didn’t learn from that warning sign. Minutes later the Moroccan had another chance and didn’t miss. It was always going to be an uphill battle after going 1-0 down in Eindhoven but the lack of fight and quality is concerning.
After going 2-0 down, changes were made. However, somehow, Cifuentes escaped being subbed, I do think he will come good, when he’s played in his natural position. That being said, he was asked to play on the right side of a four-man midfield last night and was lost. He didn’t help going forward and didn’t support Tavernier the way he needed, yet, he lasted the whole 90 minutes.
Rangers scored a really well worked goal to make it 2-1, great movement from Lammers then a lovely ball over to him from Cantwell. The Dutchman controlled it well and fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal which Tavernier bundled in. It was game on and there was hope! For around 90 seconds.. A poor foul out wide lead to a whipped free kick from Veerman and de Jong was left free to flick it into the net.
It only got worse from there, no one track Veerman’s run and he found himself in space inside the box to fire a nice finish past Butland to make it 4-1. Then Rangers night was summed up with Connor Goldson’s ridiculous own goal. Honestly, it was a disastrous performance, especially after they went 1-0 up. So, let’s look at the biggest factors which impacted the performance.
The Starting Line-Up/Formation
Originally seeing the starting eleven I don’t think there was much that anyone would have changed. Then Michael Beale spoke before the match and claimed Rangers were playing with four in midfield, with Matondo on the left and Cifuentes on the right.
Why? Honestly, why? It’s not a formation the team have used this season and Cifuentes isn’t a right midfielder. The Ecuadorian struggled to support Tavernier defensively last week, why is he now playing in front of him on the right hand side? If the formation was the usual 4312 with Cantwell behind Dessers and Matondo, I think the majority would’ve been happy.
It just seemed such a strange decision to go with a midfield four and play someone out of position. Cifuentes had a poor game playing on the right, again, he didn’t support Tavernier enough defensively and offered no width or quality going forward (apart from a cross in the first minute). Somehow though, he lasted the entire game.
It was clear when Rangers went in 1-0 down at half time that a change should’ve been made, yet nothing happened until it went 2-0.
Defensive Marking/Positioning is a Huge Issue
Firstly, why was Sam Lammers marking Luuk de Jong for that free kick? Surely Goldson or Souttar should be marking their biggest aerial threat? It’s the simple things that this Rangers team are failing on.
No runners were tracked and this left players free in the box time and time again. John Souttar was caught ball watching for Saibari’s two goals. Luuk de Jong wasn’t properly marked for the third goal, no one tracked Teze or Veerman for the fourth goal. Four goals were caused by poor defensive position/marking.
That’s supposed to be the basics of defending right? You mark your man and track the runners, kids are taught this. So why is it that time and time again Rangers are losing the same goals? Defensively, in the big games, this team has been terrible under Michael Beale for the most part. This needs to be rectified, NOW.
The Managers Comments
How do you pick them up because that was a hammering?
‘That’s your words, I think they were ruthless. The level between this competition and domestic football is different. We go into the weekend we’ll dust this off. It’s a huge game it’s the perfect game for us to go into, the team we’re playing against don’t go onto it in a fantastic place so it’s an intriguing derby and everything is to play for. ‘
Why couldn’t you deal with PSV’s attackers?
‘I think they’re a very good team and we found it very hard to deal with de Jong and their No.10, They won the duels with our centre-backs which made the game difficult. As a team, we could’ve shown more quality. I felt we started quite well but ended up sitting deep and couldn’t stay with the ball, partly due to our quality and the way PSV did and their counter-pressing. I won’t sit and say we were terrible because the resistance was stronger than this team has faced this season. The level was too much for us which was clear.’
It was obvious that de Jong was going to cause issues and the same with Saibari after last week. I’m not a fan of these comments, he got it wrong and claiming they were ‘ruthless’ is nonsense. Rangers got hammered and completely out played, the fact he can’t accept that is concerning.
What Needs to Happen Next?
Firstly, at least one or two players need to come in before Friday’s deadline. A centre back and a winger are needed, in my opinion. Harry Souttar would be a good addition but, ideally, the addition would be a left sided centre back.
Defensive improvements are needed, as previously mentioned, the players aren’t doing the basics. Beale needs to implement a system and play style and stick to it. The team does need to gel, but it’s difficult when the formation and players keep changing.
The manager needs to go back to the drawing board, pick how he wants to play and the players that fit into it. This is HIS team, they are HIS players, he NEEDS to make this work now.
After writing this, I’m willing to draw a line under it and move on. The focus now has to shift to Sunday and it’s a must win game.
We need to see the Rangers who dominated the first thirty minutes last Saturday, they need to go out and be on the front foot from the first whistle. The crowd will be behind the team and it’s time to pay the fans back after last nights performance.
A win on Sunday takes Rangers top of the table going into the international break. It’s imperative for the mood around the club that three points are taken on Sunday.
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ICYMI you can read yesterdays article on Borna Barisic’s up turn in form here.