Rangers have not set the world alight with their start to the season. Having already played six competitive matches so far, the ‘Gers have only registered three wins this campaign. As such, fans have already started to show concern about the team’s prospects for the upcoming season.
The two wins on the bounce, a 2-1 victory away at Motherwell, and a 6-0 drubbing of Dunfermline in the cup provided Pedro Caixinha some respite. The team seemed to finally be gelling with a 4-4-2 formation, and with each other. It looked like we were finally gaining a bit of momentum that could act as a springboard onto a run of good results.
Rather disappointingly, recent league performances have seen the team slump back to the same kind of form they found themselves in following the dreadful Euro exit to Progres Niederkorn, as well as the poor end to last season.Rangers seem to be lacking the level of consistency required to challenge at the top of the table this season. There had been fleeting glimpses of quality – the opening half an hour at Motherwell for example, but this hasn’t been sustained by the team regardless of the opposition. Rangers only once won more than two fixtures in a row last season, which is simply inexcusable for a Rangers side. Let’s hope this doesn’t continue this season.
This serves to demonstrate the deceptive nature of friendlies. The wins against the likes of Watford and Wednesday, as well as a draw with Marseille, lulled us into thinking we were ready for the season, and actually had a half decent side!
The leap from friendly football to competitive action was a huge one. From the first whistle of the league season at Fir Park, the difference in the tempo, the increased physicality and passion was huge, and something you just can’t account for in friendly matches.
Despite Dorrans’ early opener, Rangers struggled to stamp themselves on the match at Fir Park. Once we had broken the deadlock and settled the nerves, we got our heads down and played some tidy football but after half-time we didn't play nearly as well.
When Ben Heneghan, an ex-Rangers transfer target, grabbed the equaliser, the quality of football dropped and it became more of a battle. In all fairness to the ‘Gers we got the win, thanks to Dorrans’ well taken fifty-eighth minute penalty, but it showed how you cannot trust form in friendlies.
Things didn’t improve against Hibs. Ryan Jack was sent for an early bath, and the refereeing decision was to blame for the result according to many Rangers fans. Fans conveniently forget that he did, however, play for the full ninety minutes against Hearts, and Hibs had fought their way back into the game before his dismissal. If conceding three against Hibs wasn’t enough of an indicator that all was not well, the warning signals definitely appeared again when points were dropped against a Gorgie side without a manager, and neither of their marquee players turning up on the day.
There is simply no way to dress up that Caixinha’s men have a poor league record since the Portuguese took charge. Under Caixinha, Rangers have a win percentage of around fifty per cent in the league, which is simply not good enough. There can be no excuses considering Caixinha has now had a summer to assemble his squad and get a pre-season under his belt at Rangers. Following the premature optimism after the friendlies this summer, it seems to be one step forward, two steps back when watching the competitive action.
However, the next couple of fixtures provide a good opportunity to get a couple of wins under our belt. Historically, Rangers have a fantastic record against Ross County; having never lost against them. County confidence should also be low, and the ‘Gers should realistically have too much quality for them to handle. Dundee on the other hand recorded an impressive win against Rangers last season, however have made a woeful start to the season sitting at the foot of the table having conceded seven goals in three games. Currently Betway Sports favour the Rangers to win their next two fixtures.
Let’s hope we head into the Old Firm derby in September with maximum points, and some confidence brewing. A win against Celtic at Ibrox will put to bed any memories of an indifferent start to the season, and hopefully ease the pressure surrounding Caixinha.
Possible team (4-2-3-1):
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