Well it’s been around three weeks since the last update, life has got in the way a bit but we have finished season three as we look to claim back to back top flight titles and title number 56, we also had a first chance at europe so let’s get into it.
In terms of our transfer budget I’m starting to get annoyed with the budgets, £3 million for our first assault on europe when the team needs new additions to add depth and quality is really poor.
We go into season 2017/2018 with a very average budget and you can see that we didn’t receive any fees apart from for Matt Crooks to Partick for £20k and that we sent out many of our youngsters on loan to further develop.
Fraser Aird was let go on a free, the kid has no technical ability and that is a major issue for how we play the game. Rob Kiernan was also let go on a free which may be a surprise to some but Wilson and Meekings were proving to be a solid defensive partnership.
The additions from Accrington in Josh Windass and Crooks were simply not good enough, in terms of Josh I am excited about his potential irl but in game they are both not good enough, both went out on loan last season and I felt it was best to move them on.
Due to the transfer budget we had to delve into the loan market again, Oliver and Alex Pritchard were very exciting loan deals in midfield and we secured the loan services of Man Utd defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson who provided centre back cover and could play left or right back so gave us flexibility.
Sone Aluko loan was a deadline loan signing and it was desperate, very unlike me and it proved as he was a flop – we terminated the loan early and I’ll hold my hands up here I made a mistake and he tried to cause problems within my squad threatening a mutiny after not getting enough games.
Henrik Gulden is a scandinavian left winger with 3 star potential who would provide cover for Mikkel Duelund, he has a bit of potential but may sell him on soon and we signed Andre Osmunddalen a keeper with 4.5 star potential and I had to snap him up. Yes, we’re scouting scandinavia heavily.
Roberto Barroso didn’t perform for us during our loan spell but he should have a big future, I was in a transfer war with Benfica to sign him permanently from Argentinian side Colon but the striker rejected our offer.
The other signings were all teenagers with between 4 and 5 star potential for very low fees and we are heavily involved in promoting and developing youth.
Finally and this was one I wasn’t sure about due to his age, Ezequiel Lavezzi was available on a free and at £15k p/w was too much to turn down, he has decreased in certain stats due to his age but at 33 could still give us something and would bring big experience.
So we’re winners of the Ladbrokes Premiership again however Celtic gave us much more problems in Paul Lambert’s first full season in charge but to give some context they spent £19.3 million, in the same time we spent £2.3 million however they managed to recoup £13 million back.
They signed some decent talent with Sven Bender, Michael Carrick and Kalinic on permanent deals with Marcus Rashford and Joe Gomez coming in on loan however despite winning their first 9 games we were too strong in the end.
I felt in the past I’ve droned on a bit too much here so I will just detail key results and let you see the results for yourself, the start to the season was strong and despite drawing with St Mirren we went into the first old firm game in strong form however in our first big test we were outdone, if I’m honest we created the better chances with more of the ball but Celtic were clinical.
After that we responded with an excellent streak of ten wins in a row however we weren’t getting the rewards for our play and at times just not creating enough, it took me until the last game of the season before I have settled on a new tactic, Ryan Hardie however was in great form in this period scoring 9 times.
Celtic then beat us again.. it’s getting a bit pathetic at this stage but we have no answers to them and we create virtually nothing against them, Old Firm managers are judged on success but if you can’t win these games then you won’t last long.
We again pick up from the defeat to good form smashing Aberdeen 4-1 at home, which is always nice and at this stage we are scoring freely however after the Dundee draw which was undeserved we really struggle and my attempts in switching tactics don’t work and it frustrates me.
We controlled possession in most games but our press was leaving too many gaps at the back, we lost our talisman in Ryan Hardie and were struggling to create chances with constant changes and tweaks to tactical system we just couldn’t sort it out.
As you can see we draw with Celtic two more times so never beat them in 4 attempts in the league, I’m sorry for supporters reading this.. We were lucky that Celtic also flopped at the end of the season and that our work until January was fairly solid.
Scotland co-efficient is utterly dismal and a long term aim of this is to improve the rating of the league, however we faced three ties to just qualify for the group stages and we faced Red Bull Salzburg I’ve had easier ties before but we come through with back to back 2-0 wins in games we surprisingly dominate.
Mladost are a poor Montenegran side and on aggregate we win 4-0 having rested player in the second leg and we are then drawn with Partizan, a decent side but we avoid bigger sides so I’ll take it, we win 1-0 both home and away to secure group stages with an 86th minute away goal from Hardie and a home leg volley from sensation Mikkel Duelund.
After all that work, what sort of group are we handed?
We lose the first 4 games before smashing Tottenham 4-2 at a packed Ibrox with a sensational quadruple from false nine Hardie and then are denied a famous win over Real Madrid at the Bernebaue with Gareth Bale smashing one in from 30 yards, it’s a tough first european test but we have much work to do.
Yes! We beat Celtic at last 4-2 on penalties in the League Cup final with Stuart Bannigan scoring the winning penalty, we got over this hoodoo we had and going forward I want to get to a dominant stage where we consistently get the better of our fierce rivals.
As you can see a very short run as always, where we struggled against Killie before want-away striker Jason Cummings scored on the break in extra time then convincing wins over Motherwell and Hibs 2-0 and 4-0 respectively secured our final slot and that’s three League Cup victories in a row.
Again we are treble winners, this makes history as although Rangers have the most trebles at 7, no side has ever won back to back trebles.
I always thought if we beat Celtic we could win it and we were too strong in a 1-0 victory with Alex Pritchard as he controls the ball in the box excellently following a short corner before placing the shot into the top corner, again tactically we had issues but in these games getting the win is everything.
The final stats.. We battered Motherwell, trialled our new tactic and it worked big time going to a more of a 4-2-3-1 than I have previously ever employed.
New Tactical set up
I wanted a tactical set up that dominated teams with a strong press playing higher up compressing the play however recent tactics I was using were not creating nearly enough chances and we were stalling.
I like playing a short passing style and want my players to be expressive and give them more freedom however I don’t want them to take chances too early and wanted my defensive shape to be much stronger.
So we brought the two wing back to a flat 4 and changed the left wing back to a full back on support whilst keeping the right back role as a complete wing back as I feel that I want marauding runs from a wing back and we are stronger on the right.
The AP is very important in terms of linking play from wide men and the false nine dropping deep causes so much hassle for the opposition and often the inside forward on the left side gets a lot of chances possibly due to this.
Our youth intake as usual was poor which I hope to improve after the board approved my request for better youth recruitment and I hope to get an agreement to improve our youth facilities however we signed Gavin Gray from Hamilton for £200k and he is a 4.5 star prospect, exciting future?
Ross Muirhead went on loan to Airdrie and played 20 times scoring 4 times at only 16, I like sending young guys out on loan but understand other people like to keep them, how do you develop youth?
Stephen Japp has not made the strides I had hoped for however a few of the 20s prospects from the start of the game have played quite a lot for me, if you’re good enough you’re old enough is a motto I like, in football obviously.
Ross Lyon is developing very well and made 22 starts and 6 sub appearances last season and is currently valued at £2.5 million, he gained 11 man of the match awards in that time and had an average rating of 8.29.
Robby McCrorie has made the number 1 spot his own and at just 20 years old he could be our number 1 for a long time, he has a potential of 4.5 stars and is always improving, 58 appearances and only conceded 40 goals which is good considering the batterings we got in Europe.
Ross McCrorie made 30 appearances last season with an average rating of 7.94 with 9 man of the match awards, he is a 4 star potential player and is attracting interest from the English Premiership but we want to keep hold of him.
Finally Liam Burt spent the year on loan to fellow Premiership side Dundee and made 15 appearances with an average rating of 7.07 and I have rejected loan deals for next seasons as want him to play at times for us and fulfil the potential of his 4.5 stars.
It may be strange but the player with the best average rating was Ross Lyon and I won’t include him in my top 3 but the others contributed more to the season, however Ross had a fantastic season for a very young player.
Mikkel Duelund – This kid is becoming one of my favourites of this version, can play wide left, right, number 10 or in centre midfield but the ability to get past the opposition and either put in a good ball or finish is brilliant. 20 goals and 10 assists in 50 games is a a very good return from someone only 20 and developing.
Ryan Hardie – Goals, goals, goals this is what he is all about and getting 30 goals from 41 appearances is a good return and would have been more apart from an injury for a few months near the end of the season.
Alex Pritchard – We will miss Alex when he goes back to Spurs and will need to replace him with real quality, he took the right inside forward position and created 25 assists and scored 8 times in 40 starts but we can’t afford him and Spurs won’t deal with another loan for him.
In conclusion it has been another good season for Rangers and the club continues to develop, another domestic treble made history however the difference in class in europe was clear despite the group being very difficult.
The first couple of seasons in europe are difficult due to the poor country co-efficient and the dismal club co-efficient meaning we will be 4th seeds for a while and the new rules for seeding make it harder but we will go again.
It was a great year financially, no longer with any debt having paid it off we were able to secure a £19 million profit, maybe we’ll get to see some of that in our transfer kitty?
Our average age continues to be the lowest in the league at 23 and we have improved our coaching and scouting team with Keke Duran replacing Frank McParland and Kirstjaan Speakman replacing Craig Mulholland – both upgrades.
Oh, as a teaser of the quality we are going for next year I have secured this genius from Atleti.. Angel Correa may be one of the biggest bargain signings we make and he will slot in the AP role but will join us in January 2019 for some reason. £2.5 million and £18k p/w is mental for him.
Thank you all for reading and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss anything feel free to leave a comment on here or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19.