Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Two games, zero wins, one draw and one loss.
Not the start Alistair "Ally" McCoist wanted to have in charge of his beloved Rangers.
An opening day 1-1 draw with Hearts at Ibrox did not get Rangers' quest to retain the Scottish Premier league off to a great start and some fans began to grumble about problems that seemed to have already surfaced.
Poor defending, lack of creativity, disappointing performances from players, the list goes on and with an Important Champions League qualifier against Malmo at Ibrox a few days later the fans hoped Rangers would "Step up and play" as can be heard in Sammy King's "Penny Arcade" when it is played before kickoff at Ibrox.
Rangers did not "step up and play" against Malmo.
The negatives brought up from the Hearts game were all on show again as poor defending, lack of creativity and disappointing performance's led to Malmo picking up a shock 1-0 win at Ibrox and left Rangers needing to win by at least two next week in Sweden or face an early Champions League exit on the same level of Kaunus a few years ago.
Rangers were poor against Malmo. McCoist set up his team like his predecessor and mentor Walter Smith would with a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation and it did not work. Errors were being made by many and an error by Steven Whittaker (who did not look like a player who recently signed a long term deal,) on the right side of his own box in the eighteenth minute led to Daniel Larsson scoring and grabbing an important away goal for Malmo. Daniel of course not being the first Larsson to break Rangers' fans hearts.
Whittaker's mistake at the goal was not the only mistake made by him or any of his team mates as most of the Rangers team struggled to make an impact.
Lee Mculloch and Maurice Edu in the heart of Rangers' midfield was not working for the second game in a row.Both are trying but neither player has the creative spark to control and boss the midfield and there is little pace between the two. Steven Davis is Rangers' best central midfielder but he is played out of position wide right yet he is still covering for Mculloch and Edu.
Madjid Bougherra continues to look like a disinterested player and McCoist will surely let the Algerian part ways with Rangers as soon as he finds another centre back to join Dorin Goian joining the club and create a new central defence.
In fact only newbie Lee Wallace, Nikica Jelavic and the outstanding Allan McGregor in goals came out of the the game with any positives.
Wallace on his debut did not look out of place at Rangers or on the Champions League stage and was industrious going froward all night as he put in a solid shift trying to stop the Malmo attack down the right while contributing to Rangers' attacking options.
Nikica Jelavic looked a class act at times but looked a lonely figure up front most of the time. Even when Rangers went for it and put Steven Naismith up front with him, Jelavic was still isolated which was frustrating for him as he won many balls but there was no support and Rangers were constantly punting the ball up front to him and he could do nothing with them which would frustrate the fans sick of seeing the same tactics fail constantly.
Allan McGregor recently signing a new deal at Ibrox and saying he wants to end his career at Ibrox is fantastic news for the club as his fantastic performance against Malmo proved. McGregor was flawless and pulled off at least three important saves to keep Rangers' deficit a manageable one, his fingertip save from Figueirdo's long range drive was world class. McGregor's performance was one of the few positives to come out of the Malmo game.
The season is only two weeks old so Rangers fans and McCoist will not be too overly critical. There is a lot of football to play and if Rangers win by two next week in Sweden which is manageable, they will be closer to Champions League football. Kyle Lafferty is also missing through injury right now and he is sorely missed . The Ulsterman is a threat in front of goal which from the evidence of the first two games, is sorely missed.
However changes are needed and whether McCoist rallies his current squad together or signs fresh new faces, Rangers need to change a few things to make sure they will have a successful season and help McCoist be a success as manager as well as being a legendary player at the club.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
With big clubs competing in money spinning friendlies all over the world and other clubs using the summer to lure bigger teams to face them. There is plenty of money on offer for the clubs but what is in pre-season friendlies for the fans?
I conducted a survey of one hundred football fans today asking them one simple question; Do you like pre-season friendlies?
The results were even. Fifty percent of fans said they enjoyed pre-season friendlies while fifty percent of fans did not like pre-seaon friendlies. Even results but the reasons for choosing varied.
Reasons from Fans why they do not like pre-season friendlies:
They are a waste of money- Paying over the odds for bounce games that are not competitive.
Outcome means nothing- No matter what the score some fans believe nothing is gained from the games as the games have no importance.
Poor Quality of game- Friendlies can sometimes be boring affairs with little quality on display due to lack of competition and lots of substitutions usually taking changes.
Reasons from Fans why they like pre-season friendlies:
Gets team in shape for new season- friendlies help managers get their team in shape for a new seasonand know what positions they need to strengthen.
Chance to see players/teams you don't normally see- Glamour friendlies can be great for the fans as they will get to watch players they don't normally see and there is a chance to see teams they don't normally see their team play every year or if they might even get to see their own team if they live abroad.
Fun to watch as no pressure - no pressure on the players to perform so they will be relaxed and can show off skills and try things like long shots they would get shouted at for if in a competitive game.
A 50/50 split in the survey was interesting. There are ways to make friendlies appeal to most people:
Screen friendlies live on tv- One off games would be great for armchair fans. For example Rangers vs Chelsea on August the 5th this year would have an audience and so would many other friendlies if they were on free tv.
Cheaper tickets - Charging less for friendlies would bring in bigger crowds. Maybe even doing deals like kids go free or family discount prices would bring in younger kids and the chance to see their team in a more relaxed atmosphere than when the competitive season starts.
More pre-season tournaments- For fans who say they mean nothing. Even though the tournaments would be only friendly affaurs they would bring a little competitveness and excitement for fans. Tournaments like Arsenal's Emirates Cup has been interesting over the last few seasons and the Renfrewshire Cup is always a tasty affair between St.Mirren and Greenock Morton. Hardly a "friendly."
Pre-season friendlies will never be completely loved by fans but they are important for clubs to generate money and have a look at their squad before the season starts to know what is ahead of them and what they can change. Making friendlies cheaper to attend and putting them on free tv could help people get excited by them more but no matter what pre-season is like a support act before the main event that is the Season starts and it always will be. Fans just need something to fill the gap when the season is not on.