Rangers travel to the Netherlands on Thursday to play Feyenoord in Rotterdam. Their name is now spelled Feyenoord but was originally Feijenoord. They updated their name from the old Feijenoord and took a modern English language plunge to Feyenoord in 1974 - pity really; changing your original historical name.
For anyone who has been to the Feijenoord stadium, known as de Kuip (the bath tub), will know it is a mass of steel. I would rate it higher quality than tin city on the east side of Glasgow, though. During the war years the Germans wanted to demolish it for the scrap metal to turn the steel into weapons but the director of the stadium estimated a much lower tonnage of high class steel and the Germans decided it was not worth knocking down. Later the stadium was also used for pop concerts and my moment of fame was going to watch Pink Floyd playing there in 1988 which was unfortunately the last time the band toured Holland.
As we all know Jaap Stam begun the season as manager. Jaap was probably one of the best defenders you could get but after a spell of managing Reading and PEC Zwolle he got a move to Feyenoord,. The team started off playing not great and quickly got worse. Defeat against Rangers, who a certain Dutch journalist called a nothing club, and a chanceless 4-0 defeat against Ajax saw Jaap fall on his sword. Since he left, players have come out and said he was unclear in his instructions. Why didn't they tell him that at the time seems a logical question for me? After his management performances up until now questions do have to be asked about his coaching ability and man management, I am afraid.
After Stam departed, Rangers old boss Dick Advocaat took over as interim manager until the end of the season. Dick Advocaat will do one thing to the team: discipline. He is up to this point unbeaten but after Feyenoord drew 1-1 with Groningen at the weekend the same Dutch journalist stated on telly last night that even Dick Advocaat can't polish a jobby! The fact that Feyenoord had less possession than Groningen must set some alarm bells ringing in Rotterdam. In general though, Dutch Journalists expect Feyenoord to win and stated they could not name one player in the Rangers team. I would say that it is their lack of knowledge as Steven Davis missed a penalty against their national team just a few day's earlier.
I have to say that one of the problems with Feyenoord is that they have really only one central striker in Nicolai Jorgensen and he is pretty much always injured. The only other specialist central striker they have is a seventeen year old kid who is still learning his trade. They have been trying many other permutations of wingers or attacking midfielders with Luis Sinisterra playing there recently as striker, but obviously a natural striker is a big part of the backbone to the team.
At the back their big money defensive buy Argentinian Marcos Senasi has instead of being a rock in defence actually become a laughing stock amongst the media. They have have painted him as the big money defender who can't defend and can't pass a ball more than a few metres. Dick Advocaat defended him this week saying he will be money well spent, and to be honest he had a reasonable game against Groningen, so maybe he just had problems getting used to his different surroundings.
It is my view that we cannot let Feyenoord play football. We have to be in their faces every minute of the game. Defensively they are weak and Morelos should be able to role their defenders. I would try to let them give the ball to Senasi and the put pressure on him to make a mistake.
If we let them come at us then they do have players that can hurt us in Steven Berghuis, Luis Sinisterra and Sam Larsson. Obviously a forward line built for on the ground football and not for high balls into the area. With Jens Toonstra, Leroy Fer and Orkun Kökcü they have a decent midfield but certainly not world beaters.
Rangers didn't play that great on Sunday but we got the three points. Playing bad and still getting the points, is the sign of a good team. If we defend as we did on Sunday though then Feyenoord could rip us apart. The Hamilton goal was a comedy of errors with our central defenders caught out of position and Barisic looking on like he had bought a ticket for the game. Thankfully our defending has been great in Europe so hopefully we can keep the clean sheet and get the win or draw that we need.
One thing we can all be sure of is that Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent must, and barring injury, will play. Morelos' value to the team is of paramount importance and Sunday's game showed that Jermain Defoe when not scoring goals is a virtual passenger. Morelos can score and also hold up the ball to bring the midfield into play. I may be biased but in my eyes Steven Davis, Ryan Jack and Glen Kamara are certainties for the midfield and are good enough to dominate the Feyenoord midfield. I think Ojo will make up the wide right position.
With the knowledge that Feyenoord have small, quick technical footballers and virtually no aerial threat, would it possibly be better to have Edmundson at the back other than Filip Helander? We all know Goldson won't be dropped but Edmundson certainly looks quicker than both. I doubt Gerrard will mess around with the defence to be honest.
I think the Rangers team will be:
A draw will probably take us through to the next round depending on the result between Young Boys v Porto. With a Porto win being the only result to stop that. One thing is certain: to be sure, two wins from the last two games would be just what the doctor ordered and give certain Dutch football pundits a remembrance of who the famous Glasgow Rangers are and our players names.
C'mon the Gers.