Rangers 'Groundhog Day' away form to end!

Posted by John Gow

When the Bill Murray character in the movie 'Groundhog Day' discovered that he was reliving the same day over and over again, he eventually came to believe that there was no hope of ever seeing something different with a new day.

Rangers fans might not be at such an extreme mindset over the team's away form in SFL3 just yet, but the performances and results do have a strange 'deja vu' quality.

The flat style of play and seeming inabilty to pass the ball, is so below what these players can achieve that it's mind-boggling.

There are four commonly held theories why this is so:

1. Players are not good enough.

As simple as that. The squad of players is just not good enough to play in SFL3.

2. New squad and playing environment.

There is no doubt that this Rangers team is in transition and full of very young and new signings.

They are also playing in a league none of them would have dreamed to see Rangers in and it's a bit of a culture shock. Add to that the lack of pre-season due to the haggling by the SFA and SPL over the membership transfer - one that was thankfully agreed to so that the club's history remains unbroken - then we can expect disjointed performances. The narrow pitches don't help either.

3. Wrong formation/tactics.

Playing 4-2-3-1 is a bad choice for Division Three, purely because it is overcomplicated for such a league, but also there is no need for only one striker. It can work beautifully if the three attacking midfield players play with movement and energy. When they don't it only hinders an already bad performance and one player ends up fighting a whole defence.

(Also, earlier on in the season Rangers were playing the long-ball game. Other than a poor spectacle it only compounded the problem with the formation - however, thankfully it seems to have ceased.)

4. Bad attitude/poor motivation

After the draw with Berwick Rangers, Ian Black acknowledged that the Rangers team “just expected to turn up and win.” That's a bad admission for a footballer.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Rangers legend and first-team coach Ian Durrant admitted that there is still a problem, “We were terrible [in the last game] against Forres and that's why we had a meeting on Monday to discuss application and attitude.

No voices were raised but it was made clear that the management demand more than was on offer last Saturday.

And in typical Durrant style he added, “when Rangers come to town it's time for straw hats and trumpets. That's when we have to put the battle armour on and fight.”

In other words, you might have better ability than all these SFL3 teams, but not so much that you shouldn't be playing with the same aggression and intensity as you would for bigger games - Motherwell being an example.

Are they correct?

If these are the problems then we can see that they are either not true or easily surmountable.

We can discount the first issue immediately. You don't need to be Jose Mourinho to see that this squad - although not as good as in years gone by - is far better than anything else in Division Three. If further evidence were needed, then the defeat of a leading SPL club only a matter of days ago would tell you that.

For the second, the players should be getting used to each other - both on and off the park - and now know exactly what kind of football environment they will be playing this season. If you can play at Forres Mechanics in the Highland League, then Forthbank Stadium should look like the Bernabeu.

As for attitude, if Ian Durrant is publicly telling us that the Rangers management have had words with the players, then you can only assume the players will be fired up.

The only remaining problem is the formation, but at least Rangers are now playing the ball on the deck. If this team play near their potential it doesn't matter if you have no strikers, they should still win comfortably. Only one up-front might not help, but they should still get the result and more.

Add to this the abysmal start to the season for Stirling Albion, who are bottom of the league with only one win, and you can see why I'll be making a prediction that the Rangers - like Bill Murray - are going to finally awake from their own nightmare ''Groundhog Day' and start a new dawn.

Prediction - Stirling Albion 0-4 Rangers

Injury update - Rangers will still be without Fran Sandaza (long-term), David Templeton and Andy Little, though Ian Black and Dean Shiels look to have recovered and will travel. Stirling Albion have a full squad available except for Bradley Coyne who is out after knee surgery.


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