By Steven Clifford | Guest Contributor
I wrote a few weeks ago that Rangers needed momentum and that Pedro Caixinha must be afforded time before we judged him properly. Pleasingly for Pedro and the players they managed to do exactly what was needed and pick up the three points in the opener on Sunday.
Before that of course we had the friendly against Sheffield Wednesday which brought another positive result and more importantly encouraging play. With the squad undergoing such a massive transition in terms of recruitment, playing style and philosophy, each game is vital in the overall context. So after a credible performance and draw with Marseille, followed by a good trip down south and wins against Watford and Wednesday, it gave us some encouragement going into the opener at Fir Park.
The result of course was a good win and we should be very satisfied with the three points. Fir Park is a tough place to go ordinarily, but on the opening day with the opposition already with four competitive games under their belts in the League Cup, it was always going to be extremely tough.
Motherwell, like all the other sides, were up for the visit and made it an extremely good contest but Rangers done something we hadn’t managed last season and that for me is the massive plus point, we stayed strong and saw the result through. It will take time for the performances to come, individually and collectively but what we did manage was a resoluteness, togetherness and toughness to collect the victory.
You may think that this should be a given and we should expect our team to have that mental toughness and I concur, but given what happened to us last year and the amount of results we gave away crumbling under any pressure afforded upon us, Sunday has to be seen as a massive positive in that sense. Motherwell pressured us strongly in spells throughout the game but for the majority of the game we stood and were resolute.
We can now build upon that and with three home games on the spin the team have the chance to build momentum and continue to mature as a team. Obviously we can dissect the performance of the team and players individually in more depth, there are things which could be better but we can be pleased with the performance as a building block.
It looks like we need more time to gel and players will take time to settle in Scotland, this is only natural and I have to constantly remind myself to be patient with the new players. Whilst we are quick to judge we must remind ourselves that this was the first competitive game for six of our new players.
But for the majority of the game the passing was crisp, the passing was good and the players got to the touchlines and we created opportunities, all hugely encouraging. We should have of course taken our chances and perhaps a pass instead of a shot, on certain occasions, would have proved more fruitful but these things will come.
What was fantastic was how strong we looked centrally in midfield and defence, the problems Motherwell did create came from wide and indeed Wes Foderingham commented that 25 crosses into his box was too many. That will be for the manager to iron out as he tinkers with his selection and eventually settles on a first eleven. Whilst the forwards will take time to strike a partnership we still created the majority of the best chances and it will get better as these players bond together.
The key components to the team look good, in Jack and Dorrans we look solid in midfield, likewise in Alves and Cardoso in central defence, this is a solid spine to build upon and be positive about.
With Sunday behind us and three points banked we can be positive as we welcome Dunfermline tonight in the Betfred Cup. Dunfermline are a good outfit with some ex-Gers in their ranks so it will be another test, the old adage of one step at a time has never been more evident for this team and manager as we continue to build momentum and hopefully results. Ibrox will be expectant and as a support we should never lose that, the moment we accept second best is the moment we fail as the club we are, so it will be exciting to see how we cope in the coming weeks.
Ibrox will be sold out and the atmosphere good, the feel good factor is back and we have the excitement to see the new players in the coming weeks. The Observer article last week by Keith Waddell was bang on the money once again, the media have done nothing but attempt to ridicule our manager and cull any positivity this club has had all summer. The message was clear that we shouldn’t let them, we have had a very productive summer in terms of the commercial deals being ripped up, players coming in and players also leaving the club, our stadium is constantly being upgraded and the board are pulling in the same direction going forward.
It’s one step at a time for the squad and hopefully as we go on we will continue to develop, grow as a team and get stronger. The early signs on Sunday were very positive and let’s hope we can keep going in the right direction. It’s certainly exciting to look forward to getting back to Ibrox on Wednesday then the double header in the league following. Speculation continues that we are still looking at new players and with players now heading out the door things are looking healthy in terms of the squad.
The squad must continue to grow but we can be positive about the opening day win and positive going forward, as Pedro said only another 37 wins to go!