Whilst Rangers’ thoroughly embarrassing Champions League defeat to PSV Eindhoven might hurt, a sense of perspective wouldn’t go amiss amongst all the hysteria.
The Ibrox side were hammered 5-1 by the Dutch giants in the Netherlands to lose the tie 7-3 on aggregate with Michael Beale’s new-look team being thrown to the baying wolves.
But whilst the manner of the defeat is inexcusable – Rangers’ heads gone the moment Luuk de Jong put PSV 3-1 up – the background to the match deserves much more respect.
This is a PSV Eindhoven team who are a few years in the making and who, rather than bulk their squad out, have sought to add genuine quality to their ranks this summer.
Whilst their defence remains an area of concern, the additions of Noa Lang, Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman, along with the signing of midfielder Jerdy Schouten and Barcelona right-back Sergino Dest, have taken their spending north of £30m this summer alone.
Rangers’ spend – in comparison – is about to break even at around £12.5m once a deal for Glen Kamara to Leeds United is eventually concluded.
Champions League gamble pays off in Eindhoven
By providing such substantial investment, PSV Eindhoven took one almighty gamble on Peter Bosz’s side reaching the Champions League and it has paid off.
But the bulk of the players who turned the tie – including goalscorers Ibrahim Sangare, Ismael Saibari, Luuk de Jong and Joey Veerman – were part of the side who were scorned by Rangers last season.
This was a highly motivated team who – with a 2-2 draw at Ibrox and a week off to prepare – walked into the Philips Stadion fully focused on the task at hand with a point to prove.
This was not your average Champions League Playoff; it had a personal tint and despite being worthy winners the commentary from within the Dutch club heading into the tie lacked class and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Rangers, by comparison, are nowhere near the same team of last season with the fact that Malik Tillman – a hero in Eindhoven for the Gers last campaign – started on the bench for PSV giving an inclination into the gap in quality and investment between the two sides.
The young American would probably be our star player.
New-look Gers no match for highly-motivated PSV
Rangers, unlike PSV, are a team significantly transformed from last season and whilst the club’s new signings are the subject of the usual teeth gnashing from within our own support and some sections of the media, it’s not on this stage that they’ll be judged.
There is not a player in that Rangers side who would break into the starting XI of the PSV Eindhoven team; there are several at the Philips Stadion who could soon be playing for European football’s elite clubs.
As Rangers dream of climbing back to their previous European standing after a decade in the doldrums the reality is that we’ve spoiled by the success on the continent of the last few seasons.
What Steven Gerrard and then latterly Giovanni van Bronckhorst achieved in the Europa League at Ibrox was nothing short of miraculous.
We probably had no right to reach Seville and the fact that the crowning moment in Spain evaded us is more painful than losing this Champions League Playoff.
So long as Rangers’ spending varies so wildly compared to the likes of PSV Eindhoven, the Champions League will likely remain a bridge too far.
Whilst things might’ve been different had we not drawn the highly-motivated Dutch outfit this has been a footballing lesson and one which should offer fans some perspective.
Would we have beaten Royal Antwerp, Braga, AEK Athens or Panathinaikos to reach the group stages? Maybe.
But we’d have been as ill-stocked as we were against PSV should we have got there.
Securing the record of the Champions League’s worst-ever performing side last season is still raw enough.
Rangers can banish PSV demons with Celtic victory
This is a new-look Rangers very much in its embryonic stages and the international break will be a welcome chance for our new charges to take a much-needed breath.
Before then it’s the small matter of a clash with Old Firm rivals Celtic where – once the dust settles – 50,000 bears will be in raucous voice to cheer our side on to victory.
The fact our Parkhead rivals have worked our coefficient ticket into the Champions League is enough to leave us sick and probably adds to the sense of frustration around the PSV defeat.
But if we’re being serious – and they’re being honest – if the draw is unkind they’re in for a long six-game run at European football’s top table too. We’ll indulge in it as much as they are here.
Anything but a win against Celtic will heap the pressure on Michael Beale, with questions – quite rightly -surrounding his big game mentality and decision-making.
But it’s in these matches that the team’s quality, mentality and title ambitions are more fairly judged and, with our cheeks red and Rangers raising a chuckle around Europe this morning, the players owe us a performance.
Celtic are a wounded animal at the moment and the stink around the PSV Eindhoven result can be quickly ousted if we heap the pressure further on Brendan Rodgers.
Then, after Michael Beale’s side catch a breather, Rangers have the chance to go and get European redemption in the Europa League and Make Us Dream once again.