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  1. On our main site today, another superb article from @Rick Roberts discussing the flaws in the SPFL disciplinary process and why RFC are right to highlight that and associated unfair broadcaster coverage. Don't miss it! https://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/current-affairs/999-re-refereeing-scottish-football
  2. Finally, during a rare day off work, I managed to view the recently released Amazon documentary about Steven Gerrard. It’s important to note right away, there’s nothing about Rangers in it. Instead it’s a biography of our manager’s playing career – specifically at Liverpool – and the incredible highs and cruel lows within it. It’s an essential watch for any football fan about the loyalty and drive of a legendary player in the modern era. And its relevance to Rangers isn’t just noteworthy but timely. The similarities between Rangers and Liverpool are obvious. They reside within working class cities with two primary clubs. They’ve suffered stadium disasters of the kind that no-one should experience in sport. The demands of the support are huge and, given it’s been seven years since Rangers last won the SPFL title, the expectations may be considered identical. Even down to the iconic gates at each stadium and huge stands such as the Kop and the Copland, I doubt there would have been a better managerial fit for Steven Gerrard outside the Merseyside club he will always love. Of course, the appointment of Gerrard was always going to be a risk. It’s his first big managerial job and there are never any guarantees about playing legends transferring their talents to the dugout. It doesn’t always work and, as much as our supporters were excited about the appointment, there were (and still are) doubts. Yet, this documentary is the perfect antidote for those who have concerns and, so far at least, Gerrard is doing what he did as a player and making a step-by-step transition into becoming a successful manager. On Sunday afternoon when Rangers went top of the league for the first time in god knows how long, Rangers fans started to get excited again. Yes, we’ve only played 14 games of a 38-game league season and, sure, Celtic – still the dominant side in the country – have played once game less but after watching Gerrard’s Liverpool side overturn a 0-3 deficit against AC Milan to win the Champions League against all odds in 2005, surely anything is possible? Interesting, throughout the documentary, the commentary from various relevant people was at pains to point out that ever since their period of dominance in the 1980s, Liverpool were for most of Gerrard’s time considered the underdog. The riches of Sky TV deals, as well as the influence of billionaire Russians and Arabs means Liverpool struggle to compete financially and, again like Rangers, have had their problems in that regard. Gerrard played in the Gillett/Hicks era and that experience may well have proved part of the conversation ahead of him joining Rangers – a club not without their own fiscal travails. Recent published accounts of Old Firm AGMs show Celtic to have the upper hand over Rangers off the park as well as on, so Gerrard will have been consciously aware of the battle he was going to have before he took over. It’s fair to say the Scottish Premiership doesn’t have as many big clubs challenging for the title like the EPL but Gerrard set himself a high bar at Liverpool and will be doing the same here. In that sense, his team’s progress so far will have enthused him. A fine run in the Europa League is perhaps an unexpected bonus but, just like his playing career, the league will be the priority. And the immediate challenge is as tough as they come with another eight games still to play this year – culminating with the visit of Celtic to Ibrox at the end of December. Our position then ahead of the winter break will be telling and there is an opportunity now to lay down further markers before the New Year Derby. First up is a match against an Aberdeen side whom we’ve yet to beat this season and one would hope both the manager and players are still hurting from a League Cup defeat at Hampden in October. Suffice to say the Dons will be just as hungry to repeat that feat on Wednesday night. With two games against Hibs and a tough away match to an in-form St Johnstone side still to come as well, this is a crucial month for Gerrard but his experiences we seen put under the documentary microscope (warts, slips and all) are worthy of comparison. Despite this, some suggest the capture of Gerrard as manager was a PR stunt, or worse, he’s ‘quietly terrified of’ or unqualified for the job in front of him. In fact, any football person worth their salt after viewing the Amazon film will see Gerrard and the Rangers job were the perfect fit. That’s not to say he will bring back trophies to Ibrox. No-one can promise that, just as Gerrard couldn’t when he broke into the Liverpool side as a raw and inexperienced teenager. Yet, just like then, the early signs are positive and going by what he achieved as player and the type of professional, driven character he is Steven Gerrard can most definitely ‘Make Us Dream’. As Liverpool challenge again down south and their fans begin to believe once more, could we about to witness the ultimate football irony? Or perhaps it’s just a glimpse into an ordinary slim lad’s destiny?
  3. We have a wee treat for those of you who like a wee punt ahead of Sunday's game. You can win BIG just by predicting seven outcomes in the Rangers v St Johnstone match at Ibrox! Lower stakes. Higher returns. Bigger probability of winning! How you can get involved: 1. Click here: http://bit.ly/2xoUIpt 2. Answer 7 questions on the Rangers Big Game Predictor 3. The more questions you predict correctly the higher you finish 4. The higher you finish, the bigger the prize! It's fun, It's simple and genuinely easy to win. It's also free for this week's game. Also, if you end your username with 'gersnet' when signing up, if you finish in the top three in their game, our partners will send me £50 to take you out for some beer/food before the a future Rangers game! On the site you can also win £1 MILLION by predicting Premier League results with 5p0rtz's Beat the Streak game.
  4. https://twitter.com/GersnetOnline/status/1031445364283531265
  5. When rumours of Steven Gerrard being linked with the Rangers manager job first appeared on our forum in late April, it's fair to say that my first reaction was to smile disbelievingly then, once I knew there was substance in the rumour, doubt was my next emotion. After all, as much as no-one can deny the quality of Gerrard's playing CV, his managerial experience is minimal and neither is he any expert in Scottish football or Rangers. It's also fair to say, many Rangers fans had these same initial doubts. In just under 1000 fans polled on our main site in April, there was no clear majority in favour of the appointment. Sure, just over a third of fans felt his profile and reputation would work well as manager of our club but the very same percentage disagreed, believing his inexperience was an unnecessary risk after the failure of Pedro Caixinha. A slightly smaller number of fans were undecided - rightly feeling both the excitement and the fear of this perceived gamble. Events moved quickly after we posted that poll. Within days it was confirmed Gerrard was to be the next manager of the club and thousands of bears filled the enclosures at Ibrox to welcome him ahead of his starting date in June. After what was a very impressive press conference, the mood had definitely shifted and any earlier fear replaced with a obvious confidence amongst Rangers supporters. If we conducted the same poll again today, I suspect the results would be very different. Of course, despite that new found belief gleaned from Gerrard's comments so far, there's still no guarantee of success under the former Liverpool skipper. Rangers fans have been annoyed with some of the press coverage saying as much but the simple fact is it's the truth. Yes, as seems the norm nowadays, a few commentators have lacked balance in their approach but there are question marks over Gerrard and it would be churlish and downright daft to ignore them. As a rule though, Dave King's reasoned response at the Gerrard announcement presser is perhaps the best retort. Yes, not having top-level experience is a box not ticked but that sole negative (no matter it's size) is, at the very worst, balanced by several positives. And, in a decade where Rangers supporters have had minimal good news to enjoy, it's difficult not to blame us for lingering on the affirmative. What our club has lacked more than anything else in recent years - certainly since our return to the SPFL Premiership - has been leadership in the dressing room. For all their strengths and weaknesses, Warburton, Caixinha, Murty and their various captains have lacked that vital element of leading our club back to success. Far too often, this has been visible on the pitch as player after player goes missing in games and that has never been more evident in our lacklustre efforts to compete toe-to-toe with Celtic. Dressing room bust ups just point to further division and there's now a long list of players guilty of extracting the proverbial out of the very people that pay their wages. Under Steven Gerrard, no player will be allowed to take such liberties. No Mexicans with personal problems will be signed and no Barton/Miller/Wallace scenarios of players thinking they know better than the man in charge will develop when the manager has seen and done it all. That's not to say there won't (or shouldn't be) a mutual respect between him and his squad - just that everyone knows who's in charge. Improving that squad will be Gerrard's first and most important task. As much as Rangers fans will be hoping for a substantial transfer budget, without serious investment, I don't see a huge amount being spent over the piece. A cursory look across the Clyde to Parkhead shows that, yes, of course we need to buy new talent but existing and under-performing players can be managed into title-winners. That doesn't mean we'll be expected to cheer on players who've shown they don't have the mentality or quality to remain at Ibrox, just that we may not need the wholesale squad changes some suggest. For example, as much as it's obvious we need at least two new centre-halves to improve our defence and another bustling, strong striker capable of leading the line, the fact our team outscored the rest of the SPFL last season shows there are positives to build on. Gerrard's message to the Rangers fans yesterday (perhaps in lieu of another press conference today as he spends time abroad looking at players) was a glimpse of what to expect over the coming weeks. First of all, naming Mark Allen shows how important their relationship will be over the summer. The Director of Football clearly has a lot of faith in his favoured candidate and it's vital they can work well together to bring in players to improve the squad for next season. Secondly, a training camp in Spain towards the middle of the month will allow the manager to get to know his players quickly over pre-season and offer a chance to build positive relationships throughout the squad ahead of an early start in Europa Cup qualifying. Finally, Gerrard speaking of his work outwith Auchenhowie shows he is keen to see who can join Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield and Jamie Murphy as new signings in this window. The quicker new players can be brought in the better and the same can be said for moving on any surplus. Indeed, it will be the Europa Cup of early July that will provide a very early determination of Gerrard and any new signings he does make. Last season Pedro Caixinha and his team failed badly in their first test and that put the Portuguese manager on the back foot from the outset. A look at the teams in the qualifying rounds does show it's not an easy task to qualify for the group stages of European tournaments nowadays but a similar exit at the first stage has to be unthinkable - not just in financial terms for the club but to maintain the early goodwill offered to the new manager. In that sense, the Rangers fans' backing for Gerrard has been remarkable so far. Record levels of season ticket uptake and a waiting list larger than some other clubs' annual numbers means Gerrard can start his new job today knowing every supporter is behind him. Even better, these impressive ticket sales will allow the board to front load any transfer investment, meaning he and Allen can work through their player menu and order quickly to sate all our appetites. That's not to say they'll be ordering fillet steak but hopefully doing the best with their budget so we can hit the ground running over the summer. And that's what will be offering food for thought for the new manager. As a player of course he experienced pressure and, for the most part, he dealt with it well. However, the difference this time is that as much as it was often him that led his Liverpool team from the front as captain, at least he could do so on the pitch. Now, like the rest of us, Gerrard is limited to watching from the side-lines and that's something that may take him a while to get to grips with. The pressure on a Rangers manager is another significant factor. At Liverpool, fan expectation was similarly high but the environment in Glasgow is arguably unique with both Rangers and Celtic vying for the title each season. Recent years may have brought in extra variables but that rule remains and plenty of experienced, high-level footballers have struggled to work under it. Only time will tell if Gerrard can do so. In closing though, something just feels different this time. Neither Warburton nor Caixinha gave me much confidence. And, as much as they offered familiarity, both McCoist and Smith didn't bring real excitement either. Paul Le Guen did capture our supporters' imagination (for a few months at least) but, even then, I didn't feel the same enthusiasm I do today knowing Steven Gerrard is the Rangers manager. Yes, of course there are doubts and there's nothing tangible (yet anyway) to really outline why there's a new found confidence amongst fans but, for the first time in a long time, I feel genuinely optimistic for our club's direction. Obviously there will still be bumps in the road ahead but I think the first of June 2018 will be a significant day in the long history of Rangers Football Club. I believe that this date will signal a new era of success at Rangers - perhaps not immediately - but in the near future. I actually feel Ready again. Let's go!
  6. Great stuff on our main site today from @Rick Roberts - make sure you check it out when you can: https://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/current-affairs/915-dave-king-s-statement-of-intent Dave King's Statement of Intent There’s a basic rule of thumb that wherever competition exists then you have to put effort in to just stand still, to keep your place. To stay ahead you have to adapt, react and put the work in, put more and better work in than those you’re competing against. As soon as you ease off then others will step up and take your place - especially when that place is at the top of the pile. We need to recognise that there are external forces actively acting against our club. It took a lot of hard work and no lack of talent to build Rangers FC into the great institution that we find today but with our position come many that are jealous and want to damage and weaken it. We as a support cannot take our position and football club for granted. Take the analogy of a boiling kettle - you need to put energy in to keep the water hot. If you don’t do anything then over time it will naturally cool. Likewise, it will cool quicker if people pour cold water on it. The following points are based on general observations and my conclusions drawn from them. It’s all very broad brush and there is also an element of it that may seem a bit unnecessary, remembering we are meant to be talking about football here. But to be honest it is a ridiculous situation to find ourselves in. Unfortunately I have to use Celtic and its fans as a reference point here. One, they are our immediate rivals and exist in the same space as us, and two, most of the hostility derives from their fans, or at least some of the prominent ones. This may be an unfair to many of the support but those are the ones currently directing the bus just now - and it's driven by Peter Lawwell. In my opinion there’s some fundamental differences between the fan bases. Historically the Celtic support have been fed and have thrived on grievance. Most of it either greatly exaggerated or fabrications to suit a purpose – the referees conspire against them, other teams have cheated, Thatcher stopped me passing my exams, the Israeli army stole food from my table etc. This circles the wagons and feeds their controlling identities - ethnicity, faith and politics. Ultimately these authorities are happy to have a bloc to control and that sense of grievance keeps the group pliable. Of course, particularly in recent years, Rangers FC has been set as the target for most of this grievance. Politically, in particular, they’ve been keen to paint us as the bête noir – somehow getting one over Rangers now settles scores for things never quite achieved in life. And further, when power is acquired and grievance (real or imagined) requires satiating, then vengeance emerges. This is why I believe we have seen some unprofessional behaviour from people of in positions of responsibility - even they can't hide it. The want for revenge in the name of Celtic (the vessel that often carries their wider cultural identities) overrides professional pride. Rangers fans on the other hand: we may not like Celtic, it may be stated clearly or bluntly or often, but it usually ends there. It’s contained and not all-consuming. We don't have various websites running from donations that concentrate on what they're doing on a daily basis and we don't ask people to pay for films and plays discussing how hard done by we've been. A point that’s been missed in recent years is that Rangers and its support has been condemned even whilst simply defending itself from attacks, at the same time the aggressor has been overlooked. To wit… Even the unemployable Stan Collymore was lashing out again this week. We all know that he is a bit of a joke figure, but his denigrating lies regarding Rangers (and his pro-Celtic myths) have the potential to reach his 800k followers on twitter, which is not insignificant. Pinch of salt or not, that’s a lot of cold water to be thrown at Rangers and some will lap it up. Whilst I agree that the guy isn’t worth the hassle of the club engaging, we could see this as an opportunity. There’s plenty out there who have never heard the story of Rangers humble origins, it’s a proper football story, so we should put it out there and people like Stan can be used as a springboard when they parrot their lies. The club and the support has a duty to retell the story - as it’s one of the many unique selling points our great club has, so we shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Repetition for emphasis as my old English teacher used to say! Now let’s be honest with what’s been happening. There has been a collated effort and a concerted message from some against our club. Years of tribal, cultural and professional grievances have been sowed and these have grown into fully formed agendas. Tribes at war, PR arms races, clashing of cultures, competitors vying for the top spot - it is all relevant. It also helps to acknowledge that this is now the status quo (and has been for a longer time than we probably want to admit). Now whether Rangers FC is your world or is a pastime you enjoy occasionally it still merits and requires defending to maintain its status and we can all help. We may not be able to stop all of the derision and cold water but we can at least counter some of it and we all have energy to add back into the system. Last week we witnessed the overdue and most welcome sight of Rangers go on the front foot. Firstly against the “independent” SFA Celtic fan non-executive director Gary Hughes who likes to label our fans as the great unwashed. Other than the predictable gnashing of teeth from Celtic's media attack dogs (which they would do regardless) I could see few negatives in this move. It highlighted a problem (part of a larger ongoing issue with Scottish football's governance) and at very least has increased awareness of this. Personally I don’t want Celtic season book holders being involved in decisions involving Rangers - especially when they're supposed to be independent. I’ve seen enough in six years to know that some with an allegiance and the will to get involved at that level are not to be trusted. So it puts the pressure on the SFA. And whilst the SFA and the media are busy dealing with this issue it means they have less time plotting their next charge against Rangers and will perhaps consider their options in future. Additionally, it follows that if less comes our way then the good people at Rangers have more time to deal with other matters. Rangers also released a statement on next season’s ticket allocations which was largely a popular move amongst the home support. The announcement was welcome but equally surprising as this was the type of thing that had been discussed amongst the support for years but never actioned. Our rivals didn’t need to react but Celtic did and their response looked amateur and petty. They have had it their own way for a long time and they are used to throwing mud so perhaps this is a sign that they don’t cope too well when it goes the other way. They have some very driven and capable people who have caused us great damage but perhaps behind that front-line they still suffer self-doubt. There has been a consistent and effective smear campaign against us for a long time and I think we’d started to believe their hype - probably partially comatosed by dignified silence but also some disbelieving and not wanting to admit that the game has changed so much and Celtic had taken the fight against our club to the floor. This week and another statement. Another conflict of interest. An oversight on the fit and proper test. The Chairman of the SPFL is a long-time Celtic fan, publicly no fan of Rangers and a key employee of Dermot Desmond, Celtics largest shareholder. You get the picture. The statement was justified. The questioning of his placement is justified and a review of his remit and performance is merited. Unless you're the Chief Sports-writer at BBC Scotland who apparently only seems to want the 'files thrown open' if it's Celtic doing the complaining. The narrative is fairly straightforward and very easy to glean. Celtic FC and their support and their place-men in the media want Celtic-minded and/or controllable people in all positions to help their club when they can. A fair part of this strategy also involves hampering Rangers FC. Now most clubs would probably act in the same selfish way (Rangers included of course!) but balance, integrity, the good of the game are not a requirement. Ergo, those kidding themselves on in that regard really need to look in the mirror. And a point for fans of all other Scottish clubs: you would be dealt with if you were to get in Celtic's way or call them out. It’s your football league too - surely sporting integrity doesn’t just apply to Rangers? My own personal gripe is the compliance officer position – the text book example of what needs fixed and should never have been allowed. Effectively created by the then Celtic lawyer Paul McBride almost seven years ago. A position that has since been filled by two Celtic fans whereby the performance and balance of both has been questionable. Just me seeing a pattern here? In any case, it appears our board and Dave King have said enough is enough and have taken up the fight. The last week has seen a welcome change in direction in defence of the club and our interests after the SFA once again moved the goalposts in terms of historic charges against the club. Tomorrow's arrival of Steven Gerrard, be it through a sense of duty following some poor managerial choices, is a big club move. A real statement of intent. But we need all others to play their part. That includes our influential fans, be it ex-players, celebrities, media or politicians. They got a pass through the banter years because no-one knew what was going on. A few stuck their head above the parapet and we should show them our gratitude now. Unfortunately, we have some who seem happy to pick at the club (and essentially do our rivals' bidding) presumably to assist their careers in newspapers and television. Sort yourselves out guys, you know who you are. Can the club and supporters regain a bridgehead in the media? From a union of people across the media? Create a career-safe haven for anyone brave enough to upset the apple cart and spills the beans on unreasonable editors or policy? Finally, onto the fan base. It is enough to support the club or even just talk fondly about it. People spend considerable time and money doing just that and it all deserves credit and respect. But opportunities exist and arise to contribute and do more when we wish. We need to learn to flex our collective muscle from time to time. We are notoriously compartmentalised but need to remember we share the same goals and when pointed in the same direction we should have unstoppable momentum. This could be spending five minutes to lodge objections to parking restrictions at Ibrox. It could be talking to friends, colleagues and neighbours and matching the momentum of the Foundation of Hearts or even just building Rangers Lotto into the envy of the nation again. It could be buying strips in record numbers, enough to make commercial entities sit up and make them review which teams jersey they display in the front of their shops, which kit kids wear in the playground or tourists pick up at airports. We have the buying power and online footprint to force papers and other commercial outlets to review their strategy regarding their coverage of Rangers, and where they won’t change then we empower their competitors. We can use the tools available to us to voice concerns, to correct errors, shut-down venom on comments sections and supply truth and facts on our great club where required. We have the power to put pressure on MPs and MSPs and demand fair treatment and decent, responsible behaviour from the corridors of power. We should have the power to create some noise and finally sort out BBC Scotland - hopefully sooner than later on that one. We are the majority and we can be the Establishment again. When do we say enough is enough? Tomorrow a new Rangers era begins - the time for change has never been better.
  7. Steven Gerrard sits on a low-backed chair, electric lights beaming down from above, highlighting his furrowed brow and bearded chin. He is relaxed, leaning back in a tie-less suit, hands resting on his knees. In the enclosed studio, Gerrard is joined by Ian Wright, Glenn Hoddle and presenter Jake Humphrey, as Anfield looms in the background. Discussion turns to what it takes to be a Premier League player. "I was obsessed," said Gerrard straightforwardly. "You have to be obsessed." "Even though they're your teammates you have to be obsessed and move them out the way. And once your in, they're staying out the way and they're not coming back." "Do you get frustrated when you see brilliant talent that is not obsessed?" asks Humphrey. "The word talent frustrates me as well," said Gerrard, after a sigh. "I love talent, I love seeing it. The important thing for me is these players need to understand the other side of the game: fighting, winning, tackling; going where it hurts, letting your lungs burn, really digging deep." We've long debated what type of manager we'd like to see. Some have argued for the young, up-and-coming tactical coach; to implement a modern style on this stuttering Rangers team. Others, more realistically, have argued for a more pragmatic appointment; to get us back to the basics, winning football matches and putting in a shift. Steven Gerrard perhaps represents a middle-way. The man is young; he has no real experience, other than a season or so as Liverpool's academy coach. In that sense he is up-and-coming. He's also worked with some of the best coaches around at the moment, in Benitez and Klopp -- and that other one, who's doing OK across the city -- so hopefully he has some new ideas to impart on our, at times, clueless team. In another way, he is a pragmatist. His playing career was all about winning, even if he ultimately missed out on that much-desired PL crown. Going by his tactical approach as manager with the Liverpool youths, he began with the basics. He opted for a solid back-four in a 4-4-2 diamond, or a 4-2-3-1 in his early matches. Then, in the face of growing injuries to key players, Gerrard switched to a 3-4-3, ushering in a upturn in results. His tactics would change to suit the opposition, while retaining the basic structural set-up. To combat a long-ball team in a European game, he ordered his team to play a high-line. Liverpool won the game 1-4. While in another situation he sought a high pressing start, before dropping into a low block to hit on the counter. It shows a willingness to adapt. Going by his playing career, and his thoughts above, we can expect a team with fight and desire. "My teams will be physical," he said, expanding on that theme in another interview. The lack of fight has been evident for far too long. There is a mental fragility running through this Rangers side. Lapses in concentration have lead to sloppy goals conceded; there is a lack of desire and heart to deal with the physical side of the game; and no real anger after a defeat, just a hollow 'must do better'. This was summed up, perhaps, by sacked manager Graeme Murty's words leading up to the recent Old Firm game: "I'm just a man at the side of the pitch," said Murty with a shrug. It was no real surprise that Murty was given his marching orders. That attitude is inconceivable in a Rangers manager. A Rangers team must be wrestled, forever onward. Murty must be thanked for his services. He's been thrown into the deep end on two occasions now, giving us a brief flirtation with stability. But, he was not ready; admitting as much himself early on -- although, it was surprising to read that he was looking to get the job into next season too. His tenure was not successful, even if there was a good spell or two in there. For all his inexperience tactically, both understandable and expected, his main flaw was a lack of character and an inability to wrestle this team into submission. There is no doubt Gerrard's appointment is a risk, and caution is needed. He's inexperienced, with only a season or so as a youth manager. He seems to have a pragmatists head on his shoulders, going by his tactical approach and a stellar playing career. The qualities Gerrard should bring is character, fight, physicality, and an obsession to win; or, in his own words, "going where it hurts, letting your lungs burn, really digging deep." There's no way he doesn't command the respect of the dressing room. That's the sort man we need leading our club. We can only give him the time to implement it. Steven Gerrard is expected in Glasgow today to sign a Three-year contract as Rangers manager. If anyone says they're not excited, they're lying.
  8. The heat is on… I was at a close friend’s stag do in Newcastle over the weekend. Beer, food, racing, karaoke and a bunch of mates I’d not seen for a while – it was magic! And with an Old Firm semi-final on the Sunday afternoon, I was even fairly excited to get back up the road. Unfortunately, an unforeseen two hour delay on the train meant I was going to miss a good portion of the first half. But even a patchy 4G service on the run into Waverley had my good mood evaporating as Rangers got off to an awful start in the game. By the time we’d arrived in Edinburgh and found a suitable boozer, the game was already pretty much gone at 2-0. As a few of us later discussed on the new Gersnet pod that evening, Graeme Murty’s tactical changes hadn’t worked and our poor form of late continued throughout the rest of the game as Celtic strolled to a 4-0 win. Yes, we could and should have scored a couple ourselves but, by that time, the game was lost anyway and Celtic were in second gear. This was no disappointment of failing to win as per the two most recent league matches – this was capitulation, pure and simple. Even the mixed company I was in didn’t make much of the defeat, this is the routine now after all – just another Rangers loss, does it really matter who it was to? For some players it did seem to matter. Andy Halliday – who was having an awful game (who wasn’t?) – hurled a stream of invective at someone as he was made the first half scapegoat. Daniel Candeias did the same before storming up the tunnel after his second half removal. Meanwhile Alfredo Morelos and Greg Docherty felt arguing on the pitch was more constructive than finishing a sitter or completing a simple pass. After the game, it seems Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace felt they knew better than anyone else and have now been suspended for their dressing room rants. Maybe they did – Graeme Murty certainly didn’t as he tried to suggest to the media that no immediate post-mortem was needed. No matter who was right, the post-match acrimony was horrible to witness, as were the tens of thousands of empty seats as Rangers fans left the game long before the final whistle. The club’s reaction since has hardly improved morale. Leaked stories about player X, Y and Z can be found across the mainstream media and fan forums. Meanwhile, the club’s own two paragraph statement about events hardly induces confidence in a regime that seems unable to put out the constant fires that surround our club in an era of Celtic dominance. ‘We are Rangers’ said last week’s season ticket PR campaign: yes we are but it’s not a Rangers that many of our fans recognise. ‘Renew your tickets now’ shouted various billboards across Glasgow – just don’t mention the price rises and lack of clarity over the management of the club. Dave King and his investor partners assumed control over three years ago now. By and large they were backed by the wider Rangers support. That support had been through three years of embarrassment, fraud and deception. As such, to have Rangers men – fans like themselves – was a welcome relief and, after a fairly successful boycott of the Green regime, Rangers supporters rallied once more. Trust was asked of us and that trust was given. Transparency was promised and our faith was furnished. Patience was requested and any reasonable fans understood it was necessary. A new journey was started then and Mark Warburton and Davie Weir led Rangers back to the Scottish Premiership. Despite a disappointing Scottish Cup Final loss, a win over Celtic in the previous round and a good quality of football had fans happy again by the time we started our first season back in the top division. Unfortunately, since then matters on the pitch have declined. As the management team struggled to adapt their system, it quickly became obvious that win over Celtic hid what was a huge gap and that seemed to be a challenge Warburton and Weir didn’t fancy. Add in subsequent legal battles and dressing room issues then already the football side of the club seemed poorly managed by the board. Enter the hitherto unknown Pedro Caixinha and a new excitement as we started afresh (again). Incredibly after only one win, Rangers then suffered the worst defeat in their history (bar none) in Luxembourg and the cracks were already forming. Further dressing room splits after a few months involving Kenny Miller hastened the departure of the Portuguese manager but not before millions of pounds were spent on players that never, ever looked like they’d fit in in Scotland. The sanction of the Carlos Pena transfer alone is a damning indictment of our football operations last summer. Since then things appeared to improve despite the bizarre decision to re-appoint Graeme Murty as caretaker manager until the end of the season. Along with Director of Football Mark Allen, various players were brought in through January and results improved – so much so, an inconsistent Celtic were again in our sights. However, our inability to see off our rivals who were down to ten men at Ibrox last month told us two things: Murty could not be the long term answer and some players lacked the quality or belief to be champions. Both these points have been emphasised in recent weeks as performance levels decreased to that we viewed last Sunday. Team morale is also clearly at an all-time low. With that in mind, the reaction of the club to understandable fan frustration has been nothing short of woeful. As the season ticket renewal period moves into its second week, there’s absolutely nothing for any fan to lay their hat on when it comes to making an informed decision. No confirmation of next season’s manager, no outlining of why two senior players have been ostracised for having the same concerns as the fans and no apology for the lack of character, quality and organisation on the park. Now, Rangers supporters have much to thank Dave King and his partners for. Removing the selfish interests of Charles Green and Mike Ashley rightly bought King huge amounts of goodwill from fans. Add in the various legal difficulties in doing so and the millions of pounds King and his co-investors have put into the club then anyone suggesting they don’t have the club’s well-being at heart isn’t being fair. Whilst progress hasn’t been great on the park; off it, fans seem fairly comfortable. Yet that cannot preclude them from criticism either – especially three years down the line. In truth, three years was never going to be enough time to mount a genuine challenge to Celtic. Rebuilding Rangers is a mammoth task and doing so against the financial power of our rivals only increases the difficulty. In that respect, Rangers fans have to continue to be patient and realistic. Season ticket monies and (hopefully) a few improved commercial deals aside, we don’t have tens of millions to spend on players. Neither do we have access to the Champions League to help attract managers interested in rebuilding their profile. There’s also no queue of rich investors eager to chuck their cash at Scottish football. That’s hard to take but we have to be honest. However, the same restrictions apply to Aberdeen, Hibs and Kilmarnock and, despite poorer resources compared to us, they’ve shown what can be done by appointing pragmatic, hungry managers able to get the best out of squads that may not be considered elite level – even in Scotland. As such the failure of King and his board to do the same – not once, not twice but three times if we consider the Murty care-taking debacle is inexcusable and unacceptable. Yes, you said in the renewal notice you appreciate that but actions speak louder than words and, so far, we have only words. That won’t be enough for the 45,000 season ticket holders you want to renew. In closing then, the pressure on Dave King has never been greater. Caddying for Gary Player in Georgia two weeks ago may have been a million miles from the pressure cooker of a struggling Rangers in Glasgow. Running a successful business in South Africa is also markedly different from bringing glory to his football team of choice. The same goes for the interests of Douglas Park, Alistair Johnston and the rest of the directors in charge of reinstating said glory. Quite simply Rangers must come first and if you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen.
  9. Dear all, Last year we indicated that we were hoping to see if we could get a Gersnet Podcast on the go and, after some discussions and very early preliminary testing, we're confident that we'll be able to progress this over the coming weeks with a view to having something ready to go for the end of this season (or certainly for the new campaign in the summer). The format we're looking to go with is that of a nominal host with a couple of guests per pod and we'd initially be looking to run these monthly (audio only to start). I think we'd aim at around 30-40mins length wise and the content would obviously be agreed and planned in advance to ensure a decent discussion. We're kindly being helped production wise and reckon this could really compliment the written content of the site. In terms of content, we'd like to explore that going forward but, being monthly, obviously recent team form and current affairs will be our primary consideration and the quality debate we see on here shows we have several people more than capable of being involved with this - both members and non-members of our popular forum. Tech-wise, it's all fairly simple and easy to get started. We intend using Google Hangouts (more info here) and this can be utilised via your computer or handheld device. Most PCs and laptops have their own mic installed but you can use your phone if preferred. This is all done via your home wi-fi connection so won't cost you a penny! As such, we're now at the stage of looking for contributors to do some further testing and informal auditions. Unlike submitting written content, you don't need to worry about spelling and grammar and, initially at least, we'd only be asking for around an hour of your time on a monthly basis so it's not overly intrusive in that sense. There won't be any video so we won't be scaring any younger members! We'd now like to open the discussion to the floor. Feel free to ask any questions on our forum and we'll try our best to answer them.
  10. As most of you will be aware, we've been doing some testing lately with regard to starting a new Gersnet Podcast. A few technical teething issues aside, this testing has been going very well and we're confident that we can get this up and running properly over the next couple of weeks. Before we do though, we're going to have one final test this weekend and that's where you can come in. Given there is no Rangers game, we'd like to discuss your questions on this week's trial pod. Anything goes (within reason) so we're happy to discuss as wide a range of Rangers related topics as possible. As such, please post your questions here (or PM them to me if you'd prefer) and we'll select the pick of the bunch for inclusion in the discussion.
  11. An excellent article on the main today from @JohnMcIntosh19 https://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/current-affairs/869-the-increasing-value-of-james-tavernier James Tavernier has probably been the biggest enigma in the Rangers side over the last few seasons in terms of splitting the opinions of many supporters. Whilst his attacking threat and excellent output going forward has never really been questioned, his defensive qualities, lack of positional awareness and a failure to competently defend his back post definitely have been. I’ll start this off by stating I love James Tavernier but that’s not to say in the past he hasn’t frustrated the life out of me. His development and maturity has shone through this season but while he has made mistakes in previous seasons, I’ve always thought he was used as somewhat of a scapegoat by certain Rangers fans for us going through a difficult period. In my opinion you can’t ask an attacking wing back to hit the byline and create chances when you give him no defensive midfield protection (Andy Halliday doesn’t count). Moreover, playing under Mark Warburton and asking him to be competent with Rob Kiernan playing as the centre back next to him and when any attack breaks down he simply can’t be in two places at once when a quick counter ensues. We are now seeing the best of James Tavernier this season because of quite a few reasons: his understanding with Daniel Candeias being the main one which provides Rangers with comfortably the best right side in the league. Candeias is the top creator in the league in terms of assists but unlike most wide men he is a bloody hard worker and his ability to press opponents and track back helps Tavernier out so much as he is no longer isolated defensively. The signing of Ryan Jack and the emergence of young Ross McCrorie occupying the defensive midfield role is also important for Tavernier as they know when to cover for the vacant right full back slot when he attacks. That solidity is something Rangers have been crying out for in recent years and it simply means we don’t get caught out as much and the defensive midfielders can break up the play quicker also. In the recent Old Firm game at Parkhead I felt Tavernier was a stand out, defending very well, blocking a Scott Sinclair shot on the line and almost scoring with a well taken volley. he also put in some top deliveries including a superb mazy run where he cuts in between two Celtic players and breezes to the byline before setting up Morelos with a point blank header which should hit the back of the net. He also volleys an early ball onto Morelos' head which he could have done better with also but for me it just shows how important Tavernier is to our side going forward. Signed for £250,000 I was thrilled with the capture at the time but his development has really impressed me: he has certainly found a level of maturity and some leadership qualities this season to drive on the side. If we take a look at Danny Wilson's pending MLS move, I of course wish him all the best but respectfully feel we won’t miss his inconsistency that much but if we lost Tavernier I just don’t see how we replace him and that’s probably the biggest credit I can give him. He has 22 goals and 37 assists in two and a half seasons and whilst this is skewed by the easier level of opposition in the Championship, those numbers are very hard to find. Last season he scored once and assisted six times in 36 Premiership appearances but he has went up to a different level this season with four goals and six assists in 23 appearances and you’d expect him to get in to double digits for assists from full back. He is the best right back in the league by a distance, despite a few commentators suggesting that is ludicrous because Lustig is a Swedish International. That take is ridiculous as he is nowhere near Tav, if we take that argument then Lee Hodson is also an International so he should be better? Stop laughing at the back! Let's say he’s the best right back in the league but how does he compare against boy wonder Kieran Tierney in terms of the best full-back? We’ll look at the stats for this season; now I’ll be honest and I think Tierney is a big talent but like Tav has his own defensive issues, when teams press him heavily he can make silly mistakes as we seen by Daniel Candeias' relentless pressing in the recent Old Firm derby. In 22 Premiership appearances Tierney has two goals and five assists, a bit behind Tav four goals and six assists. There are intangibles that statistics just don’t give us such as positional awareness and such but defensively and offensively in an individual sense I don’t see a great deal of difference. However, due to Tavernier's occasional concentration lapses I’d say he has that to work on and I'd argue Tierney is the more composed when he hits the byline but Tavernier whips a ball in better than anyone in the league as seen versus Aberdeen for Morelos opening goal. The above image is something you may have seen if you follow @TheSPFLRadar and I’d recommend you do if you don’t already. If you haven’t then it shows player statistics for their position and role, with the closer to the middle being the weakest and closer to the outside part of the radar being the strongest statistics for that position in the league this season. For example, xA is Expected Assists so, as expected, he scores very highly for his attacking output here but I’d also like to look at cross blocking % and dribbled past per 90 minutes. These are stats that we can use to look at the defensive side of the game and an area where Tavernier has been highly criticised and sometimes rightly in the past. The good news is that his cross blocking % is one of the highest in the league which means he is stopping dangerous attacks before they reach our area and something Declan John and Lee Wallace are both poor at. That point can be related to Tavernier lack of positional awareness at defending his back post, he does have that issue and I can’t defend that but he also has to deal with it far too often and he was excellent with vital blocks late in the Aberdeen game. In terms of dribbles past per 90 minutes, the stats show he is one of the best in the league in another defensive statistic. I’ve noticed this just by watching him but he is now more pro-active and aware of situations and when he can step in, has built up his strength to deal with wide men and is a very good defender one on one which he has massively improved on. The image above is also provided by @TheSPFLRadar: this time for Kieran Tierney. In terms of his attacking output he is rather impressive showing his creative attributes but frankly his cross blocking % is horrendous but that could be due to Celtic being more dominant and choosing not to get as tight to the opposing winger. Similar stats for the majority of this radar simply show that there isn’t much difference between the two players. They're the two best full backs in the league and by a massive distance at that. Yet, one is valued at over £20million whilst Tavernier has often been derided. Now we come to his contract situation, Tavernier has a deal until the summer of 2019 so he's now into the final 18 months of this contract. Given when he signed from Wigan for £250k he wasn’t a big name I can’t imagine he is on overly high wages though there have been rumours that he wants to move back to England with Sunderland the main club showing an interest. His contributions on the pitch recently have been outstanding and his Twitter activity does not suggest to me a player that wishes to move on. However you have to pay players their worth and make them feel valued or we will lose him. On a rough estimate I’d say he’s on around £6k per week and he’ll have seen Carlos Pena and Bruno Alves pick up over £20k per week and show nowhere near the contribution that he brings. In simple terms, we need to reward our star me and hope that if we can keep them happy and they will sign on. Sure we may lose some talents like Morelos down the line but I feel Tavernier wants to stay to win 55 and we urgently need to reward him with a massively improved contract on a long term deal which provides security for the club, rewards a star individual and is another marker of intent that we mean business to effectively challenge Celtic at the top of Scottish football. The soon to depart Danny Wilson may not have deserved a large pay-rise but Tav's performances and value to the team have to be fairly considered. Reward the man!
  12. Graeme Murty has been in charge for a while now, and over the course of his tenure we have seen him experiment with a number of different shapes; some have worked, but others have not. A fruitful trip to Florida last week has hinted at another change of shape, and a new tactical focus, which we may see more of when Rangers return to domestic duty in the coming week. When he first took over, Murty quickly looked to go back to a 4-4-2, with two wingers and Miller roaming off Morelos. But, Rangers were too easily outnumbered and overrun in midfield. We also never had the number, or quality, of wide players to make this work -- Candeias being the only natural wide man we had, if you exclude youngsters. This approach was quickly discarded after several gutless performances. Up next came the 4-4-2 diamond, which removed the need for wingers altogether. We already had a good variety of central-midfield players, so this approach fit the players at Murty's disposal. Rangers ground out some of their best performances with this set-up -- against Aberdeen and Hibernian, respectively -- and picked up some much-needed points against close rivals. McCrorie came into the holding role, and Windass was able to play in his favoured central position -- it's no surprise that these two players in particular have been in a rich vein of form recently. A surprising couple of wins in Florida -- albeit against teams having their pre-season; and with hardly a strong-XI ourselves -- has seen another change. Murty used the trip to chop-and-change personnel, with youngsters and forgotten men getting their time in the sun. But one thing remained constant over the 2 games: the 4-2-3-1 formation employed. Rangers scored 5 goals in the two games in the Florida Cup, with all except Morelos' first against Corinthians (which came from Goss' excellent set-piece delivery) coming from some form of wing-play. Not only did we set up with natural wingers hugging the touchline, but we also overloaded the half-spaces and flanks, with Full-backs and Central-midfielders drifting in to support. Manchester City are running away with the English Premier League this season, chiefly down to their superb positional play, but also because of their productive wing-play. Guardiola employs a provisional 4-3-3, with Sane and Stirling playing wide and two No.8's just behind. City always try to get in-behind opponents by creating a 1-on-1 situations on the wings; and they do so in two main ways. Firstly, they'll overload the wing and half-space. One of Stirling or Sane will hug the touchline, with their Full-back close to support. This in itself is nothing special, with most teams now pushing on their Full-backs. To overload more, though, not only will Guardiola ask Aguero to drift wide slightly, into the channel or half-space, but he also gives De Bryune a free role to drift right out onto the wing. There are potentially up to 4 players overloading a flank, allowing City to pass around a low block; they are then looking to cross into the box, cut the ball back to on-rushing midfielders, or fashion a shooting chance. To deal with this, teams will naturally drift over to the ball, to try and stifle City. The second way in which City employ wing-play is by switching the play. As they overload one side of the pitch, the winger on the other side stays wide. City are mainly trying create in that overloaded side, but by dragging teams into that congested space, they then open up the switch of play to a free winger on the other side. Sane and Stirling in particular have scored several goals from these types of situations. It may be too early to tell, but there were examples of this first type of wing-play (overloading the wings) on show in Florida. In several game situations, Rangers would play into one half of the pitch; the winger would be wide or occupying the channel, the Full-back supporting, the No.10 playing in the channel, and a deeper midfielder an easy passing option just behind. There were as many as 5 players in the channel and flank. Game situation from 2nd half against Corinthians There were two variations in the way we played through our opponents. The first was with a pass, long and crisp, from Goss/Kranjcar (RDM) into the No.10 in the channel with a quick, first-time pass wide, or into the forward. The second is another long, through ball, but this time into the winger that takes up the space in the channel; again there is a quick, first-time pass into the forward or No.10. It seems to be about quick interchanges, and overloads on one side of the pitch; the aim being to get in-behind or create a shooting chance. The new signings are more evidence of this new wing-play focus. Thus far Murphy has been the marquee signing, and it would be negligent to sign a crafty winger and not play him. Moreover, wide-players like Atekayi and Dalcio have come into the equation, alongside O'Halloran -- whether they will play a part of not, remains to be seen. More wingers are lined up (Kilmarnock's Jones), but even players like Cummings and Docherty have an energy and flexibility to be comfortable drifting into different spaces. Another hint lies in the players used in the No.10 position. Considering the players used in Florida, Murty is perhaps not looking for an orthodox playmaker in the No.10 position. Murphy, and to a lesser extent Windass, have both been deployed there recently but neither are 'traditional' No.10's. Several times against Corinthians, Murphy and Windass would come deep then spin in behind, sprinting into the channels, feeding off balls from the deeper players. Another tactic utilised a lot by Murphy and Windass was, when they received the ball in the channel, they would play a quick, first-time ball wide to the winger, then sprint to overlap. This movement by the No.10s, spinning wide and in behind, was a constant theme. Even the players used in the deeper roles have tended to be more the creative, playmaker-types, rather than defensive. Kranjcar and Goss have been the main players deployed in the deeper position; neither are natural defenders, so it seems Murty will be looking for them to feed the ball into the front line, dictating play from deep -- both had the energy of Holt or Halliday for cover. Kranjcar may be past it, but he still possesses a delightful left foot; a real asset if we can utilise it properly. Goss also looks to have an impressive passing range and a pin-point delivery. Most of our 'good' play under Caixinha came from the wing, but it was all too confined to Candeias on the right; there was no balance, and too often relied on an isolated moment of brilliance from a single player, which were few and far between. With the addition of more attack-minded players, we will hopefully see a more balanced and structured approach to our wing-play. We're all on a bit of a high, with the latest Admin Day being such a big success: deals for Cummings and Martin agreed; an offer for Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones on the table; rumours of an offer for Hamilton's Docherty. Mark Allen and Graeme Murty are spearheading what is turning out to be a productive recruitment drive. Another cause for optimism may well be the new tactical approach. The signings that have come through the door -- and even potentially those lined up -- all point towards a new focus on overloading the wings and getting in behind.
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