It’s been a while since our last update so probably best to bring you up to speed in case you aren’t an avid follower of the series. This update will cover the first half of season 5 at Rangers, we have dominated Scottish football with 4 consecutive Scottish Premiership titles, 4 Scottish cups and 3 Scottish League cups and have made decent strides in Europe.
We made our way into the Champions League group stages in 2017/2018 season following our Premierhsip title and duly finished 3rd behind Bayern Munich and Tottenham. My side then proceeded to defy all doubters and beat the likes of Olympiakos and Dynamo Kiev before beating Celtic in the domestic Europe League semi final before PSG were too strong for us in the final.
The following season we again finished 3rd in our Champions League group and ended up being knocked out in the Europa League semi final by Tottenham. I hate those bastards. Beating PSV and Udinese en route was decent.
Last season we reached the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time since 2005/2006 season so a big achievement but where we need to be. In my introductory piece on The Rangers Way I explained what I wished to achieve within a 5 year plan. We’ve achieved everything so far but making it to the quarter final of the Champions League won’t be easy this season.
With us allowing Iver Fossum to leave and also moving on Connor Hourihane I had to bring in a driving force in midfield, I had been tracking John Shuaibu for about 2 years and since he was a raw 17 year old. Atletico went up against me and I beat them to my signing of the season in a £6.5 million deal potentially rising to £8.5 million.
I then signed Presnel Kimpembe on a permanent deal after he had impressed on loan and felt £5.5 million was fair value considering his market value has doubled instantly. Martin Kopecky is a young striking talent and we activated his release clause of £3.5 million and looks a handy player but not fully convinced yet.
Gonzalo Maroni was a deadline day signing from Boca Juniors for £4 million and he also has recently made his breakthrough for them irl. He has very rounded attributes but first touch of 15, technique of 17 and dribbling of 15 stand out and he’s a talented number 10 who can give Nouri competition. Value already increased to £11.75 million
The other signings were young players who give us depth so little point going into them whilst Craig Mckenzie drops in to our under 20 side to develop.
I took advantage of the large increase in player value and cashed in on Iver Fossum and Conor Hourihane at well above normal player valuation and made £19.25 million from these sales despite them not being first team regulars.
I didn’t want to sell Mikkel Eide as he was a very good understudy for James Tavernier but with him being a bit unhappy with lack of playing time and a bid 300% of his market value I had to agree to sell.
Pereira was a young lad who had an attitude problem so did my best to get what I paid for him back and get rid, Patrick Roberts is one that I may regret but we made some profit on him and I really wanted to allow Barr more playing time to fulfil his potential and Roberts wasn’t happy with playing time.
Transfers in – £20 million Transfers out – £39 million Profit – £19 million
I implemented a new 4-4-1-1 tactic and I really like it, the two banks of 4 gives us more solidity at times but with Lemar giving license to fly down the left wing, the CM (a) pushing us on and the wide playmaker cutting inside and forcing opposition to commit we create openings.
The right wing back is then given space to bomb up and down that wing and we are still good going forward with the AP and False nine linking up well with the CM (a) and LM in Lemar.
I might write up my first tactical piece on it but not 100% yet.
I knew we would face a more difficult group than last season and we got it, Manchester United were a quality outfit and Porto and Gladbach had been in the knockout rounds of Europe recently too.
This is the group that we really announced our quality, the negatives were defeats to Man United twice by 2-0 but we battered Porto and Gladbach in both home and away games.
After the first game where we lost 2-0 away in Manchester we followed this up with 4-1 and 3-1 home wins over Porto and Gladbach respectively. We battered them and 3 goals in 2 games for Clough was excellent.
There was then late drama in Germany with the scores tied at 1-1 before 2 goals in the last few minutes from the excellent Lemar and Pacuraru made it a 3-1 win and we were through to the last 16 with 2 games to play.
Battering Porto 5-1 in Portugal may be one of our best European displays under my tenure though and scored a sensational team goal involving 9 of our players with Nouri finishing the move and Samper being heavily involved. You can see it below.
CL group A
Finishing 2nd place behind a strong Manchester United meant we would face a group winner and I looked at the list of potential opponents with dread, only Leverkusen looked a decent shout but we ended up drawing Bayern Munich and looking at their team I’m scared.
Collidio and Lewandoski up front with Thiago and Brandt in midfield, Mustafi and Alaba in defence and Manuel Neuer in goals…
Those lovely green dots. We absolutely smashed the league this season following our unbeaten season last season and are by far the strongest side in the league.
I won’t go in depth but we started the season off with 9 straight league wins with Clough scoring 5 times including a double against Celtic in a big result. Back to back draws against Killie and the annoyingly improved Ross County astounded me.
We probably did enough to win both games but they weren’t great displays, since that blip in league terms we have won 10 games straight and have racked up some very big wins with the 5-2 win over Celtic and 6-0 thumping over Hibs being the most memorable.
60 goals scored in 21 games, 19 wins from 21 league games, unbeaten now in the league for 67 games. Dominant.
Scottish League cup
We strolled through Motherwell and Aberdeen 1-0 and 2-0 to reach the semi final with Gonzalo Maroni being excellent and scoring against Aberdeen and in the semi final I rested about 7 regulars but still felt we had enough to get past Ross County.
Greg Morrison scored 4 times for them in 33 first half minutes and I just couldn’t believe it, we hit back twice to equalise things at 2-2 but then they stretched back to a 4-2 lead.
We went all for it in the second half but nothing worked and despite having the better of the match stats we couldn’t get any goals and lost, no treble for us this season.
I need to praise Thomas Lemar as these are his stats so far, with 8 goals and 22 assists so far this season. He’s my favourite, my boy from this years FM. Just watch him fly down that left wing, it’s a thing of beauty.
1 goal and 6 assists in the Champions League so far shows he can perform in the best games too.
In others news…
The board finally agreed to expand Ibrox after repeated requests, my bank balance in January is £30 million so not sure what will happen if the reported figure of £40.5 million is correct. Also why is it so expensive to fit in an extra 7,000 seats?
If we take a look at the predicted co-efficient for our league then for next season we are on target to break in to the top 6 or 7 leagues and thus give the league winners top seeding. Beautiful. As an aside to this the average age of our team is 22, very pleasing.
I think that’s everything covered for the halfway stage of season 5, a first class league season and more progress in the Champions League, a blip in the league cup but how do you think we will fare against Bayern?
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, join and speak on my slack channel “johnmcintosh-19” or in the comments section here, I’d love some interaction on this series and please RT the promoted tweet, it really helps.
Twitter – @JohnMcIntosh19