Restoring The Rangers Empire-First Half Season Review
Hello boys, girls and everything in between Are we top of the league Are we still in Europe? Is Wilshere in the local retirement home? Has my other half laughed at any of my jokes? Read on to find out the answers to these very important questions.
If you haven’t read part 1 of this series yet then go back and read it HERE
The fixture list could not have been much kinder to us for my first month in management, as apart from our opening match against Aberdeen which could be considered a difficult game we had fixtures against St Mirren, St Johnstone, Livingston, Kilmarnock and the team rangers beat eight nil IRL Hamilton Academical. You would think the odds of us going unbeaten through the first month would be high.
Despite a poor performance in our first game vs Aberdeen we managed to escape Pittordrie with a two-nil win but it came after a tactical change from our starting formation of 4-3-2-1 Narrow to the more attacking 5-2-1-2 late in the second half and both our goals came from the super sub-Kemar Roofe in injury time as we got a very lucky two-nil win.
The rest of the month was much more plain sailing as the boys got used to our 4-3-2-1 formation and we dispatched the two saintly teams of St Mirren and St Johnston both by the same scoreline as the Aberdeen game making it three two-nil wins in a row. We then conceded our first goal of the season vs Livingston but we were already two-nil up when they had the temerity to score against us so we won that game two-one to keep going with our good early season form.
Next up was Kilmarnock at home and this proved to be our toughest game of the season so far as we had our lowest amount of shots in a game (nine) as we struggled to get through their defence but thankfully Alfredo Morelos got us the breakthrough after we again went to our 5-2-1-2 formation late in the game and we escaped with a very undeserved win
We finished the month with a trip to Hamilton and I was hopeful of recreating the eight nil will that Rangers got IRL. Much to my chagrin though we could not match that result but we did get yet another 2-0 win to end the month with six wins and eleven goals scored with just one conceded. There’s just one word to say after a month like that BOSH!!!!
We started September with a bang as we got our best result of the season thus far when we beat Dundee United five-nil with Glen Kamara getting a couple goals and Morelos, Aribo and Tavernier from the spot also adding to the scoresheet.
Next up we began our European adventure with a Europa League second qualifying round game at home vs the Hungarian side Honved in what I was expecting to be our toughest game yet but we made easy work as we secured a three-nil win and we limited Honved to just two shots on goal.
Three days later we travelled to Easter Road to play Hibernian but our tired squad only laboured to a one-nil win thanks to a Morelos goal in the seventy-first minute.
Our third game in a week was at home to the Czech side Jablonec in the third qualifying round for the Europa League and again we made easy work of progressing to the next round as we got a two-nil win which made it ten wins in a row.
Our last game of the month came just seventy-two hours after the win against Jablonec, and we went to Fir Park to play 6th placed Motherwell in overconfident mood but finally fatigue caught up with us and despite having twelve shots with seven on target and fifty-nine per cent possession we couldn’t hit the back of the net and in the ninety-third-minute disaster struck as after we went very attacking Motherwell hit a long ball forward from defence it found ex Celtic man Tony Watt in space in the box and he slid the ball under Subasic in goal as only the second goal we’ve conceded under my management sent us to our 1st defeat!!.
Despite That loss, we ended the month top of the league on twenty-four points from nine-games with Celtic being on twenty points from eight games played. I also retained the manager of the month award whilst Tavernier won the player of the month after scoring a goal and making three assists over the three league games for an average rating of 7.73.
Our first game in October was our biggest of the season thus far as we took on the Spanish side Granada in the last qualifying round for the Europa League. As you can see below we dominated the game and should have wrapped it early but going into the last ten minutes it was still goalless when a Yangel Herrera header smashed the crossbar but with just two minutes left on the clock, Defoe did what he’s done for twenty years as he latched onto an under-hit defensive past got one on one with the keeper and slid it home to send the Ibrox crowd wild and to ensure we got into the Europa League proper. That goal apparently made Defoe the oldest ever Europa League goalscorer which I’m sure is a stat that he’ll be happy with.
The draw for the Europa League group stage was made the next day and as you can see it could have been better but it could have been a lot worse as we were drawn against Roma, Viktoria Plzen and Nice so it could be a challenge but I believe we can get out of this group.
(BTW if you want to follow a Nice save this year then please check out Steinkelsson’s save which he is blogging HERE)
Following the Europa League draw, we made very easy work of beating Ross county as a Morelos double and a cracking volley for Bassey’s first goal for the club gave us a very deserved three-nil win and we opened up a 6 point gap at the top of the table going into the first old firm derby of the season.
Before we got to the old firm game though deadline day came and after asking the board for some more transfer funds and receiving an increase from 700 thousand pounds up to three-point seven million pounds, we were able to make two loan signings the first being Matias Palacios an eighteen-year-old attacking mid from San Lorenzo and the second being the person who at school was voted most likely to kill Harry Potter, of course, the one and only Jonjo Shelvey.
The old firm game had more stress then all the previous games combined, before the game old slap head Gary Mcallister advised me to drop down from very attacking mentality to positive and to make sure we had four or five players on support roles rather than the attacking ones we had been using over the last month.
Unfortunately, it was Celtic who came out of the blocks first and Edouard gave them the lead in the twenty-fourth minute as we looked very much second best for the first half.
In the half time team talk, I tried to get some passion into the team but to no avail as Ryan Christie doubled the hosts’ advantage just past the hour mark. Then however we got hope as we changed to a more attacking mentality and a 4-3-1-2 formation with Defoe coming off the bench to cut the deficit in half with a very nice finish past the keeper just inside the box.
However, Edouard gave Celtic a two-goal lead again in the eighty-first minute after Elyounoussi played a nice through ball to him as we pushed more guys forward trying to get an equaliser. The last goal of the game came from our youngster Bassey as he hit a screamer from outside the box in the eighty-seventh minute to give us some hope of an equaliser and despite having a couple chances in the six minutes of injury time we couldn’t get it and so the first old firm game ended in a three-two defeat and you better believe many water bottles were thrown!!
They say that bad things come in threes and I don’t know about that, but they certainly came in twos as five days later, we began our Europa League group with a horrific defeat four-one against Viktoria Plzen, the team that were supposed to be the whipping boys of the group. The hangover of the derby defeat and the travelling to the Czech Republic meant that despite Morelos giving us the lead in the fourth minute once Plzen got their first goal four minutes later we never looked in the game and the hosts got a very deserved victory.
Our confidence got a much-needed boost three days later when we played Livingston at home as Morelos showed his quality getting himself a hattrick whilst Wilshere got his first goal for the club and Goldson got his first of the season to seal a fantastic five-nil win to keep us top of the table.
Next up came my biggest game as a manager to date, when we travelled to the land of pasta, pizza and Gladiators. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t have the time or was allowed to revel in the amazing food as we had important business in the Stadio Olimpico.
The game started beyond any Rangers fans wildest dreams as Wilshere’s second goal of the season gave us the lead in the 19th minute to silence the rowdy Italians and despite the hosts having most of the possession they couldn’t break us down and we shocked them again in the seventy-seventh minute when the South African BBM Zungu scored the biggest goal of his life to double our advantage and two more goals in injury time from Ryan Jack gave us a very famous four-nil win and inspired possibly my best tweet ever!!
— BadJokesGaming🐧 (@BadJokesGaming) November 15, 2020
We end the month with it being an all or nothing run of games as we won four but lost six. We kept our spot at the top of the table in the SPL and of course got a very famous win against Rome in the Europa League.
November started with a bang as we followed up the win over Roma with a seven yes 7-nil win against Kilmarnock as EVERYTHING went perfect for us with both Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos getting themselves hattricks and Ianis Hagi getting the other goal as we looked unplayable for the whole game.
Next up we had a very NICE 😛 result (see what I did there guys oh I’m so hilarious) when we beat Nice four-nil as Ryan Kent scored another two goals to make it five goals in two games for him and Kemar Roofe and Greg Stewart getting a very rare start scored the others to make it fifteen goals scored and none conceded in the last three games.
We kept our run of form going against Hamilton as Jonjo Shelvey ran the show playing as a mezzala in the midfield three he scored his first goal for us and set up another one to secure us a three-one win with Kent scoring for the third game in a row.
Our two English Midfielders Shelvey and Wilshere (he still hasn’t been injured it must be a bug surely) dominated against Aberdeen and both scored at the end of either half to give us a win by the same margin as the 1st game of the season to make sure we keep our place on top of the league table.
five days later we were back in Europa action but unfortunately, the result wasn’t nearly as NICE (ahahah I’m a comedy genius, what that joke was old when henry the eighth was around ok ill stop using it now) as we succumbed to a two-one defeat. Reine-Adelaide ran the show and we couldn’t lay a finger on him as he scored and set up their other goal before Morelos got us our consolation with ten minutes left on the clock.
The last game of the month was our first in the Betfred Cup and a heavily rotated squad got us a comfortable three-nil win in an easy game as we progressed to the next round.
This month was better than October as we won all our four domestic games and the only defeat came in the Europa league
We come to the last month of this post with us only being halfway through December the reasons for which will become clear shortly.
The month so far has been all about the Europa League with two of our three games being in that competition the first of which was at home against Viktoria Plzen. Jack Wilshere playing in his twenty-second game of the season gave us the win with a goal following a scramble where he poked the ball in the net to get us revenge for the earlier defeat which meant that with one game left to play we were second in the group so a draw vs Roma would surely see us through.
Before we could get to that game the formality of playing away against second-bottom Ross County so surely it would be an easy win right NOPE!!! We fell behind in the sixteenth minute but Morelos got us an equaliser five minutes later and that’s how the game ended as despite being the better side we couldn’t get the winner and we dropped two points in the title battle vs Celtic.
Finally, we come to the last game of the blog and its the most important game of the season as we played Roma in our last Europa group game and erm I don’t know what to tell you guys about this game as we crashed out of the Europa League after losing five-one to Roma. They fully got their revenge for our shock win in the previous game. Looking at the stats we didn’t play THAT badly but every shot Roma took hit the back of the net as they went five up in the first thirty-four minutes to leave everyone in Ibrox shell shocked however it wasn’t until Viktoria Plzen took the lead in the seventy-fourth minute of their game that we dropped out of the top two in the group. We got close to qualifying but we probably didn’t deserve to over the course of the group.
So far this month we’ve only won one game as we have had a poor end to this post but hopefully, that will get rectified at the start of the next post.
This post ends with Jack Wilshere having played almost every game for us which I was not expecting at all and us being five points clear of Celtic which I expected a little more although they do have a game in hand on us so it’s more like 2 points. I think you can say it’s becoming clear that if we’re going to stop Celtic getting ten in a row we are going to have to up our game and actually beat them at least once this season.
in the biggest news of the week though you’ll also be unsurprised to know my other half has yet to laugh at any of my jokes so hoping for better luck on that front by the end of the next post.
See you later
Thank you so much for reading this guys. If you’ve made it all the way to the end then you’re a legend and I love you loads, I really hope you’ve enjoyed it. Please get in touch with me on Twitter and let me know if you think we will win the league or get in touch if you have questions about the save or feedback on the blog both are very much appreciated as is retweeting the tweet for this post. I hope you have a great week I will see you when I finish the season!!!