Twelve months ago, when we finished some 39 points behind Celtic in third place we had no idea where we were going to be at the end of the following season. Fast forward to the present day and we still have no idea what awaits us in the coming season!
The season we suffered administration was less eventful than this and that is saying something. I’ll stand by my previous comments, for Rangers to finish as close as they did to Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibs when they have been an absolute shambles off the pitch and playing a Championship team on it deserves a modicum of credit. Finishing top goal scorers in the league is also an achievement, of sorts.
We all know the numbers, 11 centre half pairings, 7 Captains, 50 goals conceded in the league. This is the area that Steven Gerrard must prioritise. Goals win games, clean sheets win Championships. Dougie Wright has written some great articles this year analysing Rangers deficiencies and has highlighted that Rangers are just as likely to win a game by keeping a clean sheet than they are by scoring two goals.
We’ve also lost a ridiculous number of goals from central areas. Now, these can take various forms, not pressing in midfield allowing passes to forwards to be made or not pressing and allowing shots to be made. Either way we have known all season that the middle of the team is our weakest area. It hasn’t helped having Ryan Jack, Jordan Rossiter, Ross McCrorie and Graham Dorrans injured for large parts of the season. I’m also of the opinion that if we’d been able to keep Bruno Alves fit all season with a consistent partner we would’ve noticed a difference in defence.
It’s not easy building a central defensive pairing from scratch which is what many fans seem to want us to do and which, essentially, is what we need to do. You could pick two players, on paper and through scouting that look like they would be a good match but they turn out to be totally incompatible. Would it be easier to find a partner for Alves? We do need commanding, non-nonsense defenders that attack the ball in the air and on the ground similar to the way Christophe Berra does for Hearts.
The defence also needs to be protected by the midfield a whole lot better. I don’t, however, think players need to be brought in here though. With the players I’ve already mentioned and Greg Docherty and Scott Arfield, I think we have good enough players there. The problem has been keeping them fit and playing them in the right formation or combinations. The further Jason Holt and Andy Halliday are from the starting XI, the better it will be for the team. You could never fault their efforts or enthusiasm but they have been found wanting too many times when it comes to quality.
Dougie also highlighted how many long shots are conceded, a well-known Foderingham issue. Hopefully, the signing of Allan McGregor will quickly result in a significant drop in those figures. I’d also have more confidence in McGregor organising a defence.
I for one can’t wait to see who else will be joining the Gerrard revolution, more intriguingly, who knows where we will be this time next year! One thing is guaranteed, there will never be a dull moment!