Welcome back to the Rangers Way as we finish off the 2021/2022 season, we had brought in a lot of money from player sales in the summer and had an unbeaten domestic season by January but could we go another season unbeaten in Scotland? Could we go one step further and reach the Champions League final? Let’s find out!
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.
Welcome back to The Rangers Way as we detail what happened from January until the end of season 4, could we go unbeaten for a full league season? Would we shock Real Madrid? Let’s find out.
So that trip to Wembley was unexpected but what a bloody journey! It has taken me a bit longer to write this up than anticipated just due to higher workload than usual and having to play the game to get up to the point where I can update.
Welcome back as we hoped to continue our strong form condemning the expected relegation struggle, to bring you back up to date we were sitting in 6th place but had a trio of top clubs chasing us – Gladbach, Wolfsburg and Schalke were all within 3 points of us and I had mentioned I had hoped we could finish below these clubs and no further down.
As the title suggests we were ravaged by injuries and for a large period of time were without 6 first team players and if I’m honest our depth just isn’t there at the moment so we had a much poorer second half of the season. Excuses I know.
We were able to put together a cup run due to being quite lucky in the draws and avoiding the big teams, after beating Leipzig 3-2 AET we were handed a tie against mid table Freiburg and despite losing a goal after a minute we responded to win 2-1 despite Felix Kroos being sent off on the 75th minute.
We were in the quarter finals and noticed Bayern and Dortmund were the only big teams left in the draw and we managed to avoid them drawing FC Nurnberg who were playing in the 2. Bundesliga.
We dominated this match from start to finish running out 3-0 winners Ben Arfa scored a penalty in between goals from 17 year old Maximillian Hensel and Markus Altendorf who were both impressing me.
We are in the bloody semi finals – Bayern, Dortmund or lowly Augsburg would be our opponents and we went and drew Augsburg. I took this as an almost certainty we would be in the final and forgot we had lost 6 of our best players so it turned out to be tough.
We never turned up as we can but matched them and went 1-0 up on the 62nd minute through pressure down the right and the ball turned in by their defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw but would lose concentration and concede just 2 minutes later.
We would then have a chance on the 87th minute to win it with a penalty but Ben Arfa missed, it would go to extra time and then penalties..
We would miss 4 of our 5 penalties and lose 2-1, Ben Arfa missed a penalty in the shootout as well. Prick
So this is tough to look at, reviewing things we were fine until Dortmund onwards – 13 points picked up from 7 games is good form but then a couple of things happened.
We would lose a variety of first team players around this time and we would go on to face Dortmund, Hamburg and Hoffenheim in a row, 3 teams pushing for Champions League qualification.
The 2-1 win over Gladbach was massive with Clough scoring first and Kreilach grabbing the second on the counter and the three wins on the bounce was fantastic if not expected with Hensel scoring this goal below against Ingolstadt.
We then picked up a well fought point with a 1-1 draw with Leipzig then beat Stuttgart 3-0 away which I was pleased with, then we didn’t score for 4 games and were battered 5-0 and 8-0 by Bayern and Leverkusen respectively, I’m ashamed…
One thing I would say is on the last day we were 2-0 down to Augsburg but we turned it around to 2-2 and with that we sent those bastards down which was pleasing and jumped from 10th to 9th. Clough equaliser below, Altendorf does most of the work
I was annoyed with our second half of season form but we did have tricky spells combined with horrible luck with injuries with a first team lacking in proper squad depth so I understood why it happened and taking a step back this was our first season ever in the Bundesliga.
We had defied the odds of 18th place to be very comfortable and that prize money was going to be beautiful.
In the course of the season I was also offered a 3 and half year deal until summer 2022 which I was obviously delighted to agree to, there were some staff changes in the summer which I will discuss on the next update too.
I forgot to take a screenshot when our finances were at it’s peak but we had £40 million in the bank and had made a £32 million profit from last season, heavily down to the incredible £46 million prize money for finishing 9th.
I also love this addition to FM 17 below and was delighted with the increase in sponsorship, the visual impact does a lot even if it is just a very small addition to the game.
An extra £6.75 million per year in sponsorship was very pleasing and seeing prize money at just over £50 million is sensational.
Some players did reasonably well given the step up and so I should let you know who impressed, Zach Clough provided 11 goals and 7 assists in his first season at top flight level. Given he was out for 2 months this season through injuries it’s been a decent season for him but expect more going forward.
Fabian Schonheim was our best centre back by far again this season and he’s Mr Reliable even at 32 years of age, a 7.32 average rating shows how important his performances have been.
Ben Arfa was a strange one, he’d light up a game and be a match winner then give me a 6.2 the next 2 games and had clearly lost some of his pace now however it has been a worthwhile signing and hope he can improve next season.
Lastly Maximillian Hensel and Markus Altendorf had breakthrough seasons, both lads I signed in my first season at 15 years old and they broke through due to high potential and injuries later in the season.
Hensel provided 6 goals and 3 assists in 12 starts, 3 man of the match awards and a 7.22 average rating. He also claimed the German u17 Player of the Year award, Altendorf the runner up.
Altendorf has really developed well this season with 9 goals and 2 assists in 24 starts, impressive at 17 years old and due to his performances I have agreed a new longer and improved deal with him but this below annoyed me.
@FM_Grasshopper will share my annoyance at this – on that note go and check him out as he blogs about his time with Estudiantes in South America, one of the best FM bloggers about.
Anyway I’m rambling so he demands a new deal, I ask him to sack his agent which he does and before I can offer him a new deal he’s hired a new one so can’t avoid the agent fee.
This year was another fairly strong youth intake with Markus Maul having the highest potential but four others with at least 3 potential stars too and their attributes at such a young were promising.
Most have fairly decent personalities too but will look to tutor them to improve and help aid their development, whilst 16 year old Christos Angelikousis was developing well but as he’s 16 he can’t play or go on loan yet so he was stuck where he was.
Sneak peak at transfer news
I was pro-active and after having tracked this lad for over 8 months I had noticed he was transfer listed by Napoli and his asking price had dropped from £6 million to just £4.1 million, I had to move quick on this one.
Despite interest from Hamburg they never actually bid and he amazingly agreed to join Union Berlin. £4.1 million and £36k p/w was a delightful deal. Welcome Emanuel Mammana!
Thanks again for all the support for the blog, it really does mean a lot and interacting with those who are enjoying it is making me enjoy this even more. If you do enjoy this then please give it a retweet on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19 or comment in the comment sections below or on twitter and I’ll get back to you.
In the previous post I went through an introduction of what this series will contain, so let’s get to business. Before I get into too much detail, I will explain what our board expected of us. Promotion via winning the league title was a must and this would be our main aim to get the club back where they belong, semi final finishes were requested in both the League cup and Scottish cup and they didn’t care about the Challenge cup.
For anyone not sure, the Challenge cup is a cup competition involving all teams not in the top flight and embarrassingly it is a trophy Rangers have not won in the previous three seasons, so although the board didn’t care it was a trophy I wanted to win to put things right.
As I mentioned the board were only willing to give me £500k for a transfer budget and £8k p/w spare to spend on wages and with my philosophy of working with young talented players this left me with decisions to make. We were in my opinion light up front which I expect most Rangers fans irl would agree with so I brought in Jason Cummings from Hibs for a very reasonable £250k and he started the season in incredible form scoring 10 goals in 11 starts however a poor run of form from there and then a broken foot (long term injury) stalled him from having a fantastic season.
So with the finances not quite being there but wanting additional midfield talents I went for Harry Winks and Jordan Rossiter on loans from Tottenham and Liverpool respectively – the loan deal for Rossiter was essentially to replicate our signing irl however Liverpool want a ridiculous amount to sell and he became our main deep lying playmaker in defensive midfield.
Harry Winks came in to give competition in the centre midfield with him often rotating with fellow loanee Gedion Zelalem and he had a very good season. 14 passing and 13 technique attributes and a 3.5 star player with ability to reach 4.5 stars showed the use of our explotation of the loan market.
I also scouted Scandinavia due to the lucrative bargains that can be found and although my scout is awful he did find me a classy 18 year old winger Mikkel Duelund who signed on a two season loan deal, we don’t pay any fee or any wages during this time so it is basically a free player however he does have a £1.5 million release clause so something we can maybe do there. He has a 3.5 star current ability but could be a 5 star potential player and has 15 for dribbling and 14 for technique.
Ryan Gauld came in on loan as soon as I was alerted that he was available on a loan, he has been called the Scottish Messi in the past while that may be a bit far he is the most exciting Scottish talent about. Again we were able to secure his services until the end of the season without paying any fee or wages to Sporting – A current ability of 4 stars and potential to reach 5 stars potential, first touch of 14, vision and technqiue at 16 he would be perfect as my advanced playmaker.
On the last day of the window I also secured the loan services (again, yes) of former Hearts defender Jordan Mcghee until the end of the season, he was brought in for a number of reasons, cost, flexibility to play across the back line if required and would add competition at centre back for Kiernan who was making some mistakes.With heading of 12, marking 13 and positioning he was already a solid centre back for this level.
On the outgoing front, we let Nicky Law go for £40k as he wasn’t useful to us and I wanted him off the wage bill, Polish keeper Macej Gostomski left for similar reasons and the fact that young wonderkid Robby McCrorie being moved to number 2 there is no room for him and at £4k p/w I needed rid.
Tactical set up
For the past 2 FM releases I have favoured a 2-3-2-3 tiki taka system based on Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Barcelona, it was the best football I have ever seen and was mesmerised by that great Barca side and attempting to re-create this in FM is always great to watch as the team plays beautiful football. A small admission here would be I have attempted my own systems trying to emulate however twitter handle – @Passion4FM tactic and analysis is so good that I have just copied his tactic which is available here – http://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-barcelona-tiki-taka-tactics-emulating-pep-guardiolas-positional-play/.
We obviously play a high line and at times we have been caught out this season due to the high defensive block, it condenses play very well but long balls over the top are a slight issue with the current centre backs not being the fastest and it is something I will want to improve on long term to bring in a fast centre back to partner Danny Wilson, I think as he has been the much better performer compared to Kiernan.
We regularly get over 600 attempted passes per game, usually double the opponents with possession regularly in the mid to high 60% showing how dominant we are and usually do create 3 or more clear cut chances per game and around 16-25 shots per game while often restricting the opponents to few chances, only not successful when teams attempt to launch balls over the top to a fast striker.
As you can see we were dominant in the first half of the league season and had notched 49 goals in 23 games, conceding just 8 goals and had an unbeaten record to this point, failing to record wins on six occasions where we settled for draws. We started the season with three consecutive wins starting with a comfortable 3-1 win over St Mirren to mirror what happened irl.
Then we thrashed a poor Alloa side 5-0 with Waghorn getting a hatrick and Cummings getting on the scoresheet although we did lose the talented Barrie Mckay for four months due to a damaged achilles tendon, we followed this with a big 1-0 win over Hibs who I expected to be our closest challengers – maybe not.
Next followed a poor spell where we picked up just 1 win in 3 games, the draw to Queen of the South was a joke as we battered their goal with 25 shots but couldn’t get the second goal, a strong 2-1 win over Raith at Ibrox was vital as they were top at this stage with a double from Michael O’Halloran scoring in the 87th minute to win the game after we lost a goal after 25 seconds.
A 0-0 draw to Livingston despite us having 16-4 shots in our favour followed however we then clicked and went on to win 5 league games in a row scoring 14 times and losing just one goal with the 4-1 away win over Morton being our best display as we were starting to dominate more and controlled it with a Waghorn double,Cummings and O’Halloran with the goals.
A trip to Easter road in October resulted in a poor 0-0 draw, we had the slightly better of the game but I couldn’t complain too much, however as we do we bounced back in style with 7 league games consecutively won conceding just twice in this period and scoring 20 goals. We hit Alloa for 5 again in a solid 5-0 win and a 3-0 victory over Hibernian at Ibrox gave us the revenge we wished for with goals coming from classy inside forward Mikkel Duelund and double from Ryan Hardie who was starting to become prolific in the absence of striker Jason Cummings.
From the free flowing football the next 4 games were anything but and was our worst spell of the season, we drew 3 games out of four and the win was only a unconvincing 1-0 win over struggling Morton, Livi were becoming a bogey team despite being average and not scoring against Dumbarton was worrying to say the least despite controlling the game.
Well, this is a stunning run isn’t it? It can’t get much better than defeating Aberdeen, Dundee United and our biggest rival Celtic in the run to the final can it..
Starting the competition against Elgin we comfortably dispatched them however we then came against our strongest league challengers Raith Rovers who we were able to defeat 3-1 thanks to goals from Cummings, Waghorn and Duelund.
The tie against Aberdeen was surely one for the neutral with Aberdeen taking an unjust lead in the 58th minute through Cammy Smith we battled away and I made tactical tweaks going overload and throwing 3 up front with a shadow striker behind and it paid off in injury time as a corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble before it went in via an Aberdeen player attempted block. We started the brighter in extra time and duly took the lead through Cummings however Cammy Smith scored again.
Not to be outdone straight from kick off we went up the pitch and a great switch from Cummings to Billy King and the volley whistled into the back of the net, we’re on track for the win until Nial McGinn scores from the dreaded back post cross goal. We are victorious 6-5 on penalties despite missing three penalties, what a game.
We then beat Dundee United in extra time through a goal for inside forward Mikkel Duelund in the 105th minute in a deserved win before the big game against Celtic, personally I thought this was a step too far for us however we were the better team in general and the big talking point was a straight red card for Scott Brown for a disgusting lunge on Ryan Gauld, who gets up and scores a minute later with a clinical strike from 15 yards out to send us to the final and send the support wild.
We have only played one team due to the Scottish cup starting so late however this resulted in a tie versus Turrif United, aye who? Well, we couldn’t beat them at Ibrox and were about to crash out before Hardie took it upon himself to run through their whole team before smashing one into the top corner to secure a 2-2 draw, we beat them 2-0 away but not too convincing overall, we will play Hibernian in the next round.
Four wins, four clean sheets and in all honesty there isn’t much to talk about as we have done what I would have expected against this calibre of opposition, without being disrespectful. We face Hibernian in the final, let’s hope for football in general whoever wins this that the “exuberance” is kept to a minimum..
Going into Second half of season
Going into the second half of the season, my aims are to increase our lead at the top of the table, try and keep our unbeaten season going as long as possible and clinching a quadruple is a possibility this season. The only way I can get european football next season would be by winning the Scottish cup so that is an aim also but we have a long way to go in that competition.
I’m going to aim for roughly an update every week to 10 days and the updates will be split into half season and full season updates.
I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.