LOOKING at Rangers’ performances in the Irn Bru Third Division this season, would you think that Rangers had paid big money to get players to join them from the SPL? I wouldn’t.
Below par performances from big names such as Dean Shiels, Ian Black, Francisco Sandaza and perhaps most surprising of all, David Templeton, have disappointed fans expecting far more from Rangers this season.
Players such as Ross Perry and Emilson Cribari have also been hugely disappointing despite having played at higher levels in their careers, yet none of them are being dropped for their poor performances.
Fans are beginning to lose confidence in their manager Ally McCoist. Many may think that it is disloyal to criticise a man who lead the club through one of the darkest spells in the long and illustrious history of Rangers FC.
McCoist himself has said he should be judged on results alone, and while Rangers are almost certain to win the third division this season; performances and many results haven’t been of a standard expected.
By Mark McDougall:
At the weekend it was another three points in their Rangers quest to win the Scottish Football League third division title, but defensive frailties are at the forefront of discussion yet again. It’s lucky that Rangers are finding it easy when attempting to hit the back of the net, or they would be struggling to pick up points despite facing part-time football teams.
You have to wonder if Rangers do any work defensively at the state of the art training ground situated in Milngavie. There isn’t even a proper defensive coach at the club, and you can tell there isn’t from where I’m sitting watching the match.
In the Irn-Bru Scottish Third Division this season, Rangers have conceded seventeen goals this season, which at face-value doesn’t look too bad, but if it hadn’t been for Neil Alexander, Rangers would have conceded a lot more goals than they have.
Apart from his high-profile blunder in the last minutes of the 1-1 draw with Elgin City, the former Scotland international has saved Rangers on a number of occasions this season. Rangers have yet to keep a clean sheet in 2013 after three attempts, conceding four goals in the process although fortunately for the Rangers faithful they have scored eight.
Earlier in the season the defensive partnership of Emilson Cribari and Ross Perry took heavy criticism for their performances. The criticism was deserved but the duo struggled on and manager Ally McCoist refused to drop them.
Since returning from an injury Emilson Cribari has been vastly improved and looked a lot more assured in the centre back role which is something you would expect from a 31 year old who has experience in Serie A and once cost Lazio €5m. There have been one or two slips, but overall his performances have been good. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Ross Perry.
By Scott Binnie:
Five things we learned from Rangers’ 4-2 win over Berwick Rangers
1) Francisco Sandaza will come good as a Rangers player.
The much-maligned Spanish striker has taken a lot of abuse from sections of the Gers faithful this season with his disappointing performances, but the towering hit-man looks to be closing in on the type of form that saw Sandaza terrorise the SPL so often in the last few years.
Nobody equalled him today in terms of effort as he ran himself into the ground, embarking on a number of stunning dribbles past almost half of the Berwick team, dropping deep to collect the ball from the midfielders, and moving off the ball with great poise and awareness to allow his fellow attackers Dean Shiels, Andy Little and David Templeton to take up space in the box.
Two assists in the one game is a cracking show for any player, regardless of position, and Sandaza couldn’t have gotten any closer to notching his second goal for Rangers. After another lung-busting run into the box and past what seemed like half the population of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Fran’s shot trickled just past the post and out for a goal kick. As the exasperated striker lay on the floor, head in his hands, the 45,000-strong crowd stood in unison and applauded his efforts. Sandaza then got to his feet and gratefully acknowledged the support. The ex-Dundee United, St Johnstone and Brighton player wants to see his name on the scoresheet just as much as the Rangers fans do.
The abuse sent Sandaza’s way this season has been very unjust. He signed for Ally McCoist’s side having had no pre-season, and then when he finally looked to be getting near match fitness, he suffered a career-threatening injury against Motherwell and very nearly lost an eye. With skipper Lee McCulloch banging the goals in up front, Sandaza has rightly had to wait his turn to lead the line, but his showing today warrants a run of starts in the team and he will undoubtedly break his duck given a string of games.
By Mark McDougall:
There has been a lot of discussion recently about Rangers far from impressive performances in the Scottish third division. Some fans and journalists are blaming the poor performances on the formation that Rangers have been playing. For the majority of this season Ally McCoist has been lining his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and a section of the Rangers support feel that a second striker is needed to improve performances. On that I disagree.
A section of the support have accused McCoist of trying to be to “modern” for the fourth tier of Scottish football but it isn’t the formation that is the problem for Rangers, it’s the personnel. It seems like players such as Ian Black and Lee McCulloch are guaranteed a start every week providing they are fit no matter how they are playing.
Although Lee McCulloch has been scoring goals this season, his overall performances as a lone striker have been far from impressive. Currently, Lee McCulloch is more suited to the defensive role he played for a number of weeks when Emilson Cribari, Ross Perry and Sebastien Faure suffered long term injuries. His movement as a striker is long gone and he is also probably Rangers best defender currently. McCulloch is a legend at Ibrox due to his exemplary behaviour in the Summer during the hardest time of Rangers illustrious 140 year history but that shouldn’t mean he is given a guaranteed start week in, week out. With McCulloch starting as the lone striker players like Andrew Little and Kal Naismith are suffering in their development as strikers with Little being forced in to a wide position and Naismith rarely playing.
Ian Black dropped down from the SPL to sign for Rangers when they were allowed to enter the SFL division 3 and his form has been very inconsistent since the move. Six yellow cards have led to the midfielder being suspended for the visit of Berwick Rangers this weekend, and that will allow a midfield partnership of Lewis Macleod and Kyle Hutton to link up once again. Rangers fans want that midfield due to how impressive the two youngsters have been.