Yesterday’s win over Motherwell was a welcome start to the season. The game itself had plenty to discuss, so let’s have a look at the talking points.
The biggest positive from yesterday was the winning of a game where the opposition played well and were physical and strong. It’s not unfair to suggest that at any point in the last couple of seasons, we’d have struggled to come away with even a draw in such a game. Motherwell look like they’ll have a good season, as they have a lot of pace and good delivery from wide areas, and yesterday they certainly put in a good performance. However, we were better in the first half, unlucky not to score a couple more before they equalised, and we dealt with almost every threat they offered pretty well. We had some luck with a couple of chances they missed, but overall we were good for the points.
That came mainly from the leadership and desire throughout the team. For our first goal, Alves, Miller and Dorrans linked up to score. Those three are going to be vital in matches like that. Along with Wallace, they refused to lose, and it meant others put in the shift and were happy to take or make the fouls as required. Caixinha has spent his entire time here telling us that he needs real strength of character in the squad. Yesterday suggested he’s on the right path there.
Motherwell were unlucky not to get a penalty during the game. One cross which hit Hodson’s arm could have been given, and a slight push from Tavernier on a Motherwell striker as he rose for a cross was a little dangerous as well. They only had two shots on target over the 90 minutes though. Their manager rightly pointed out that despite some bad luck, they have to take their chances better if they want to win. They’ll win games playing worse than they did yesterday.
Lee Hodson has come in for plenty of criticism for a poor performance yesterday. Some of that is harsh, some deserved. It’s worth highlighting that he wasn’t as involved in pre-season as most, so a lack of sharpness should be expected.
I’d hope that any fans who think Louis Moult would be a good signing have seen just how little he’d offer yesterday, on top of previous evidence. He gives away loads of fouls, doesn’t offer much in terms of link-up play and isn’t the quickest. He was lucky to stay on the pitch yesterday after all his fouls and elbows. We have two players who will be focal points in attack – Herrera and Morelos – so if a third was to be signed, I’d hope they’re much better than Moult.
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Daniel Candeias looks certain to be a fan favourite with his workrate and passion. There will be more to come from him in terms of performance as well. The whole team looked like they wanted to fight for each other, which is one of the main reasons we got over the line yesterday.
If Josh Windass can add more consistency to his game, either within games themselves or over the course of matches, he’ll have a great season. He showed some real moments of quality in the first half and was unlucky not to score a great goal. Caixinha rightly pointed out the things he has to work on after the match, but it was very encouraging.
We showed overall that we won’t be easily bullied, we’ll play with a real attacking intent, and that we have some very good players who are yet to show their best. There’s been many a season where we’ve dropped points on the opening day and went on to do well, and obviously, we have to build upon yesterday. I would hope, though, that just about every Rangers fan was encouraged by the start this new squad made.
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