Another game, another clean sheet. Sunday’s friendly against Wigan saw Rangers win 3-0 and continue the good feeling around the club. In truth, the performance was only good for around 15 minutes of the second half, but it was enough to send the fans away happy. Let’s have a look at some of the talking points from the match as we gear up for the start of the league campaign.
It’s easy to get carried away with new signings. When they start well, you really can believe they’re the very player you’ve been missing for years. In the case of Goldson, any sort of over-excitement would be justified. When Rangers were linked with him, many were concerned about the size of the fee for someone who hadn’t played a lot of late. Now, I don’t believe there’s anyone who thinks £3m was anything less than an absolute steal. It’s only been 5 matches, with 2 of them friendlies, but he seems to have the lot.
On Sunday, he started next to Kyle Bradley. The 19-year-old made a few mistakes and looked very nervous. Goldson simply covered for him, kept everything calm, and showed his class. He’s clearly influential and has no issues with the physical side of the game. If this level is maintained, he’ll be a real fan favourite. If he somehow improves upon it, he’ll be hard to keep a hold of.
McCRORIE AND DOCHERTY
Ross McCrorie and Greg Docherty are two young players a lot is expected of. Docherty has found it difficult to get into the side so far under Gerrard. McCrorie was dropped for the away leg against Osijek, as Ryan Jack has impressed upon his return to the team. Both players started the match on Sunday, and some of what we saw gave indications as to why they’re not automatic picks just yet.
McCrorie, as always, pressed well and looked to win the ball, but his passing was poor in the first half. Docherty was similar, with a couple of nice moments overshadowed by being loose in possession. To their credit, both players improved hugely in the second half, especially Docherty. They were far better on the ball and helped the team create chances and dominate the game.
There have been rumours of Docherty going out on loan. McCrorie will probably have more chances to play right now, given his adaptability. Both will go on to have great careers with Rangers, but it’s no bad thing to see them pressured into improving at this stage.
Morelos had a really good game on Sunday, with a nice goal and some excellent play up front. He even made the match feel more like an actual game of football when he confronted a Wigan player after a horrendous challenge on Daniel Candeias. After his performance against Osijek, it felt like he was continuing some good form.
But this is part of the issue with Morelos. He seems to be judged game to game, which I guess can happen with any player at Rangers. After the two games against Shkupi, most fans were calling for him to be dropped. After Osijek and Sunday, most are using phrases like “turned the corner”. There have not been enough matches to really judge either way.
Personally, I’m of the belief that we’re a better team when Morelos plays, as things stand. He can be inconsistent, and he can miss chances like any striker. His all-round play creates real problems for opposing defenders, though. Given the way Rangers will be asked to play in most matches, that’s what is required. If we sign a better player, that would be excellent. Right now, whether he’s at his best or not, he’s better than anyone else we could play in that position.
THE MANAGER’S REACTION
The comments after any match from the manager can often be somewhat boring at any club. They know that anything out of the ordinary can be blown out of proportion, and often play it safe. Steven Gerrard, at this stage, doesn’t subscribe to that.
He’s had a go at quality up front, and not overly praised wins. He’s asked for far more from the team after almost every match. On Sunday, he told us that he was angry at half time, and has told the players they can’t wait on that to actually show up. There’s an honesty and obvious setting of standards which the fans are finding refreshing.
The media will try to make more of this than is really necessary. In some ways that’s their job. For the fans, we’ll continue to enjoy just how demanding and open Gerrard is because too often we haven’t seen it in recent years.
With Osijek on Thursday and Aberdeen on Sunday, the Wigan friendly was a good workout. The start of the season for Rangers seems to be full of difficult matches, especially if the team keep progressing in Europe. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s an exciting start to the season.