Rangers fitness questions raised as player’s pre-season quotes resurface
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Rangers fitness questions raised as player’s pre-season quotes resurface

As questions are raised regarding the fitness of the Rangers squad under Giovanni van Bronckhorst this season, some interesting pre-season quotes from Scott Arfield have resurfaced.

The veteran Ibrox star was the first signing of the Steven Gerrard regime with the Scouser putting the first-team through notoriously gruelling pre-season sessions.

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This was with the intention of making Rangers the fittest team in the Premiership and this bore fruit on several occasions as the Gers managed to press and dominate the opposition.

But this season – after the first-ever pre-season under Giovanni van Bronckhorst – Rangers have looked decidedly lacklustre and less explosive than previous campaigns.

Not only do Rangers look to have less gas in the tank than after one of Gerrard’s pre-seasons, designed to set the team up for the entire campaign, but there have also been a series of high-profile injuries.

Whilst these could also be having an impact on the fitness of the team right now, a smaller pool of players being recycled around a hectic schedule, there has been a visible drop off from last season’s high standards.

In the second half of the campaign, Rangers repeatedly went through gruelling extra time periods in the Europa League and even played two 120 minutes back to back and still knocked Celtic out the Scottish Cup.

Despite this being under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, many have questioned Rangers’ pre-season schedule and these Scott Arfield quotes suggest the Dutchman took a very different approach this summer.

Scott Arfield: Rangers’ pre-season more about ball-work

“I was 17 when I did my first one. This is now my 17th pre-season,” Scott Arfield told Rangers TV.

“My first one was under Yogi. I was a young kid and he brought all the Under-19s up to the first team to do the running. I was just a young naive boy, running about like a rabbit with all the first-team boys telling me to calm down. I took pride in that, knowing I was fit.

“I’ve always tried to be as fit as I possibly could. Predominantly throughout my whole career I’ve always been one of the top three or top five.

“So pre-season, I’ve never really dreaded it as much as other players. I’ve always been quite good at pre-season. It’s a special time but as it goes on you see different aspects coming on.

“We’ve got a European coach here now and predominantly it’s all about the ball, being football fit. With British coaches like Yogi or Dyche down the road (at Burnley), he had a day where it was all about running and trying to break you mentally, which I loved.

“If I become a manager I’ll definitely put that into my style because you see a different side to the players when you put demands on them to run and to see if you can break them, because it’s a long season.”

Now the quotes are nothing more than evidence of gruelling fitness work perhaps taking a back seat in the summer but as Rangers toil for form perhaps Scott Arfield is giving an insight into something bigger here.

In Scotland, teams put such a huge emphasis on player fitness that you quite simply must be able to outrun your opponents before you can outplay them.

Is this another example of Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his coaching staff getting it wrong this season?

Meanwhile, one Premier League club has been showing Rangers what they’re missing with a message on social media.