After a whirlwind set of opening fixtures which began on the 12th of July against little known Shkupi and ended in disappointment against somewhat more familiar opposition on the 2nd of September, Gerrard and his team have finally had a chance to take a breather, regroup and prepare for this next set of crucial fixtures ahead of the October international break.
This group of fixtures will include a much-coveted return to the glamour of Europe with Ibrox set to welcome visitors from Spain and Austria in the shape of Villarreal and Rapid Vienna. However, before then we host more humble opposition managed by a former Gers star with an attack spearheaded by a former Gers star.
Neil McCann brings his side to Ibrox under immense pressure and with a point to prove. The Dees have endured a horrendous run of five straight losses - including a humbling on their own patch in the cup at the hands of Championship side Ayr United – which sees them languishing at the bottom of the table without a point.
A series of listless performances has caused many of their fans to question the instability brought about by the high turnover of players at the club which has seen last season’s mainstays Bain, Hendry, Caulker, Holt, O’Hara, Allan, El Bakhtaoui and Murray all depart the club. Free transfer arrivals from the likes of Woking and Kidderminster Harriers rather than re-investing the Hendry fee signals a club in decline.
Having said that, a wounded animal can be a dangerous one and there is some quality in McCann’s side. A certain Kenny Miller seems to age like a fine malt whisky and will be ready to pounce in the box given half a chance. On-loan youngster Kallman is another one to watch after breaking his duck in the 3-1 defeat to Motherwell. Calvin Miller, on loan from Celtic, provides a threat from left back with the ability to get forward and get crosses into the box. However, the most interesting thing to see when the line-ups are announced will be whether a certain Glen Kamara passes a late fitness test. Kamara was linked to Rangers over the summer and some in the summer transfer rumours thread were keen to see him signed. If he returns, there is no doubt he will make Dundee more competitive in the middle of the park.
A passive performance against Celtic gave much cause for concern and raised a number of questions. Some sections of the media were quick to use phrases like “reality check” and many of our own fans were not sure themselves if that is what it was or how great a role the many mitigating factors were playing.
What is sure is that the fans are desperate to see a well-rested, well drilled and rejuvenated team put on a show on Saturday and show that it’s back to business as usual. Morale has improved over the international break with Barisic playing the full game against Portugal and Morelos grabbing what we will graciously call an assist in his Colombia debut, followed by high praise from his idol Radamel Falcao. The sight of quartet Coulibaly, Grezda, Dorrans and Rossiter in training was a further boost but the fans will be anxious to see whether Coulibaly in particular returns to the starting line-up.
The clash with bottom of the table Dundee at home is the first fixture of its kind since St Mirren, a home game in which we are expected to go all-out attack and win comfortably. Gerrard will want to see a return to the high pressing, high intensity aggressive display which so impressed the fans against Maribor and in the opening half hour against St Mirren, and hopefully that’s what we’ll get.
The signing of the highly rated Worrall on loan from Nottingham Forest followed by the capture of Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley has given many reason to believe that Gerrard plans to utilise 3-5-2 on a more regular basis going forward.
Wingers Candeias, Kent and Grezda would be the losers in this formation with Lafferty and Worrall being the primary benefactors.
However I’m going to predict a familiar looking 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with Lafferty paving the way for Candeias and Coulibaly making a return in the place of Ovie Ejaria.
Possible team (4-2-3-1/4-3-3):
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