In a game of tremendous magnitude, Rangers host Servette on Wednesday evening in the 1st leg of the third qualifying round of the Champions League. What needs to change in the performance in order to get a positive result? It’s no secret how poor the display was on Saturday and fans morale is at rock bottom. In a summer with a multitude of new faces and significant funds invested, excite was in the air, that was, until the game against Kilmarnock kicked off.
Rangers fans were treated to an incredibly turgid display with no ambition or desire on show. The midfield shape was poor and there was no creativity going forward. Rangers were also, again, punished for an individual mistake. There weren’t many, if any, positives to take away from the performance so there’s not much optimism going into a Champions League tie.
So, what can Rangers change to have a better chance at a positive result midweek? There are a few things that definitely need to be avoided. The main one being, going too defensive.
Rangers build up play at the weekend was too slow and predictable. It lacked creativity and any kind of cutting edge. Considering the players brought in this summer are all capable with the ball at their feet, it was disappointing to see. Supposedly, the style of play is supposed to represent a ‘handbrake off’ style. The handbrake was well and truly on against Killie.
Rangers have players like Raskin, Cantwell, Lammers and Danilo who are all capable of playing quick, one-touch football, so where was that on Saturday? This has to change going forward. For Rangers to make the most of the players available, they have to get the ball on the ground. Too many long balls were hopefully chucked up at the weekend. Alongside too many crosses being randomly thrown into the box.
It felt exactly the same as last season, just with some new faces in there. Rangers need to start coming out on the front foot and attacking teams at pace. There’s players on the pitch capable of doing it but the manager truly needs to let the handbrake off and stop playing 2 DMs.
The Starting 11
Todd Cantwell, José Cifuentes and Danilo need to come into the team. For me, I would take out, Lundstram, Dowell and Dessers/Sima for those three. There isn’t any player from Saturday that should be undroppable but those are the three I would replace. Adding Cantwell and Cifuentes to the midfield will add energy and creativity. Alongside that they will add a directness that was missing at Rugby Park.
These are two midfielders who will carry the ball forward and run at defenders which will help to create space and opportunities for their team mates. Saturday’s midfield was bereft of any drive and desire to get forward although Raskin tried at times, his midfield partners didn’t do much to help him out. With the additions of Cantwell and Cifuentes in the midfield I feel that Rangers can be a much more dynamic threat going forward.
Danilo needs to start. He’s Rangers most expensive signing in the last few years and he’s fit! He had almost a full preseason with Feyenord and played in all their friendlies up until moving to Rangers. He’s ready to go and can’t do any worse than Dessers did on Saturday. The Nigerian striker looked leggy and unfit and when an opportunity came to him in the box, he hesitated and lost the chance.
Danilo is a sharp shooter that will get goals, Beale needs to throw him in.
Doing The Simple Things
This sounds really, really obvious, especially for professional footballers. However, time and time again Rangers players are making, silly, individual mistakes that are costing the team. Look at John Souttar for the goal on Saturday. What is he doing? He just needs to get rid of the ball and Rangers don’t concede there. What actually happens though, is something we’ve seen far too often as fans, players want too much time on the ball and their indecision leads to a goal for the opposition. This has been happening regularly over the last 2/3 years.
Rangers need to go back to getting the basics right. Sometimes, the ball just needs booted out of the park, you can’t always play your way out. For some reason, these players haven’t realised this and it’s hurt the club on many occasions. Make the right choices and the game becomes a lot easier.
The performance on Wednesday night needs to be a vast improvement from what was seen on Saturday. Servette are no mugs, they managed to get passed Genk while playing from the 2nd minute of the game with 10 men. They will come to Ibrox and be well organised and tough to break down.
This is where Rangers need to up their game. We need to press high and be on the front foot from the very first minute of the game. The passing needs to be short, sharp and of a much higher tempo than the weekend. The players available have the ability to play this style of football.
The manager keeps mentioning taking the handbrake off, it’s now time to be true to his word and let it happen.
ICYMI read my thoughts on the Killie performance here.