First of all thank you to everyone who has retweeted, commented or just read the first two introduction pieces, it is appreciated. The structure of the updates will hopefully be 2 updates per season and should be 7-10 days between updates. We’re up to the newly introduced winter break so a perfect time to update and opportune time for the blog to be starting with the Warburton resignation fiasco.
So I had £1.2 million in the transfer kitty and £24k per week spare in terms of the wage budget, there were numerous areas of the squad I wanted to target but I knew in all honesty it would be difficult to get players of the right quality in all of the positions I wished for and that’s how it panned out.
I had targeted someone to play as a deep lying playmaker beside Jordan Rossiter and they would act as a double pivot, for the money we had this was going to be difficult but after scouting I liked the look of Diego Poyet available on a free after his release from West Ham and at £10k per week I was delighted to get him in, as mentioned previously his agent demanded a minimum release clause of just £2.5 million.
I then decided a right winger would be our next target with Barrie Mckay on the other side, I looked at a few players on loan from English Premier League sides but opted for Jamie Walker in a deal worth £550k possibly rising to £600k, at £9k per week and a 3.5 star player I am happy with the deal and at 23 years of age gives us room for sell on value if required.
Teddy Bishop on loan was to bolster our midfield options, he can become a top talent in the game but he never broke in to our first 11 much, Matthew Knox is a signing for the future and at £30k I couldn’t say no. Signed at just 16 years of age he will go in to the first team and be an option in cup games with the option of a loan if any teams are interested in him who will afford him first team chances.
Centre back and a back up left back were two positions I couldn’t fill at the time with our budget but we’ll sort that out in the future, if you were wondering why I hadn’t sorted Rangers dreaded centre back issue.
I allowed under 20 players Jamie Barjonas, Jason Krones and Ursene Mouanda to leave the club on loan deals, the three aren’t of the right quality needed now or probably ever so this made sense. Frustratingly no teams would come in for Joey Barton or Matt Gilks even when offered out for free, especially with Barton being our highest paid player on £20k per week. I won’t ever play him and that equates to £1 million per season being wasted.
We entered the competition at an early stage with the shake up of the tournament, we won all 4 games in the group stage without losing a goal which was pleasing. Our run to the final would mean playing a further 4 Premiership teams, first up we dispatched of Inverness 4-2 in a match we dominated but were loose at the back.
The quarter final tie was a strange one with both teams having poor games, the shot count was 9 shots for Rangers to 4 for Motherwell. Barrie Mckay with the finish from the edge of the box after good work pressing from Waghorn.
When we were drawn with Celtic I was a bit anxious as we had to hold on to a draw with them at Parkhead and I put out my strongest side, Celtic backed their reserve side and we hammered them 4-1 with goals from Martyn Waghorn, Josh Windass and a double from Barrie Mckay – we had more of the ball but they had more shots than us but we were just clinical and we march on to the final.
On to the final and Hampden to secure the first trophy of the new reign, I was confident heading into this on the back of smashing Celtic and going strong in the league but Partick Thistle always pose a threat. We would take control of the game and finally went 1 up in the 68th minute when Forrester broke on the right and crossed for Waghorn to finish from close range.
22 minutes to hold on, we could do it. 2 minutes later Partick break away and score a good goal by Sims however Foderingham’s positioning could be questioned, alas we move on and probed for the winner but Partick were resilient until the 89th minute when the roles were reversed and Waghorn cut back in the box after a throw in for Forrester to lash it home.
League cup winners for the first time since season 2010/2011 and great to get the first trophy out the way.
We had a favourable start to our first season back in the top flight in 4 years and duly won our first three games without conceding and then we lost 2-0 to Killie, it was out of the blue and we were just countered effectively but still a poor result.
I then had a 15 day gap until our next game which allowed me time to fine tune a few things, I went in a 4-1-4-1 for Celtic away in an effort to protect ourselves against their best attacking players. A 2-2 draw away to Celtic was excellent for us and resulted in this Waghorn second of the game to equalise the game and a great team goal.
Then we put on another run of three wins in a row with a memorable 2-1 win at Pittodrie, Martyn Waghorn notching up his 4th, 5th and 6th league goals of the season. I was surprised at just how good he had been in our system this season.
We began to click and with all of our players fit were a strong side, 21 goals in a 6 game period was testament to this. Waghorn notched 7 in 6 games and Barrie Mckay was starting to influence games, his hatrick over Dundee a highlight.
The losses to Aberdeen and Hamilton were frustrating and I was noticing we were far too open at times so I brought the defensive line back in an attempt to stop being exposed so much.
We would end 2016 in top position by 3 points from a Celtic side in very good form after an early season disaster, a 2-2 draw at Ibrox confirmed that we were very even sides but Moussa Dembele scored again to make it 2 in 2 against us. He’s a beast and I hope he doesn’t stay much longer.
Social feed delight
The social feed can get a bit boring with the standard positive, negative and mixed opinion on most matters but it throws up some great lines such as below. Now Dembele is a fantastic player and horrible to face but I’m certain creosoting your fence during an Old Firm game is a bit of an over reaction, Frank.
That will be all for this update, I’m keen to hear your opinions though. What do you make of the signings? Anyone you would target keeping in mind our budget? Fancy us to win the league or fall away?
Thank you for reading, it is really appreciated. If you also want to discuss anything you can ask me anything on my twitter which is below or on the comments section here.
Twitter – @JohnMcIntosh19