2010/11 was the last time Rangers won a major trophy in Scotland. Since then, they’ve climbed their way back up from League 2 and are now banging on the door at the very top of the Scottish Premiership.
In my very first Football Manager challenge, I have the goal of winning the domestic treble with Rangers within two seasons. So, an introduction to me then. In real-life I’m a youth academy coach at The New Saints FC in Wales’ top division. Therefore, it only seemed logical to give myself good ratings for working with youngsters. I minimised my goalkeeping coaching statistics in order to up my attacking, defending, tactical and mental attributes.
Celtic have massively capitalised on Rangers’ financial issues since 2010/11 and have won every single one of the domestic trophies since 2016/17 and every Scottish Premiership title since 2011/12. We can see the domestic trophy history in the next few images.
Taking charge of Rangers, the very first thing I wanted to do was stamp my style of play on them. In real life, Steven Gerrard’s side have struggled to break down teams that defend deep in a low-block and look to hit them on the counter. I hope to have solved that by going three at the back and allowing my creative influences James Tavernier and Borna Barisic to bomb forward in support. A more industrious midfield than Gerrard’s, with a DLP and BBM, they are there to facilitate the attacking full-backs and to lessen the responsibilities of the inverted wingers. A pressing forward finishes my team – which will be Alfredo Morelos, but he wasn’t match fit at the time of screenshot.In terms of my in-possession tactics with Rangers, I want them to play shorter passes and to play out from the back, when playing through the thirds, I want them to be more expressive but be patient and wait for the right opportunity to work the ball into the box. A narrow attacking formation combined with overlapping full-backs and a higher tempo are going to be used in an attempt to get in behind those low-block teams
In transition and out of possession, we will play very much like the current Rangers team. Counter-pressing and a high defensive line as we look to lay siege upon our opponents and force them into mistakes.
‘Arry Redknapp would’ve been proud of my wheeling and dealing
The first thing I done with the squad was to trim the players I knew I didn’t want, the main three are still sat on the transfer list and in the reserves as I haven’t been able to find a buyer for (Jamie Murphy, Brandon Barker and Greg Docherty). Not that I don’t think they’ll be good players, but I wanted a certain type of player and none of these were that.
In terms of the actual outgoings. Most of them were pre-start date free transfer that the game auto loads in. I did, however, send young keeper Robby McCrorie out on loan to Kilmarnock for the season with a view of him being the long-term replacement for the now ancient relic that is Allan Mcgregor. I also sent promising youngster Dapo Mebude to St.Mirren for the season.
Another departure you may notice is Aaron Hickey to Hearts on loan. (should probably mention at this point, that I’m using an updated database so the leagues are post-Covid abandonment, therefore Hearts are now in the championship) I signed Aaron Hickey for £4.4m and loaned him straight back to Hearts until January.
Signings then! I asked our lovely board if they’d consider giving me a bit more dosh to play with. They gleefully obliged – that 20 in motivating clearly coming in handy. After using my director of football to find me some quality youngsters with potential, I signed the following. In order of value (With their 5-star potential and a few attributes):
Marcos Paulo (AML, 18 y/o) – 5-star potential – 15 dribbling, 14 technique, 13 first touch
Aaron Hickey (DL, 17 y/o) – 4-star potential – 13 first touch, 13 technique, 11 crossing
Ryan Porteous ( DC, 20 y/o) – 4.5- star potential – 19 tackling, 16 marking, 20 aggression
Stevie Mallan (MC, 23 y/o) – 4-star potential – 16 long shots, 17 free-kick, 14 corners
And two loan deals of note, we benefitted from our good relationship with Liverpool and signed 18-year-old Adam Lewis on loan for the season as cover for Borna Barisic and Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour provides an extra option in midfield.
All transfers dated 24/6/2019 and earlier are auto transfers that were added with the update.
The season gets underway
We started the season at home to Aberdeen, which we won 2-1 courtesy of a Tavernier pen and a Morelos header. A mid-week tie against Ukrainian outfit FC Mariupol saw Ryan Jack getting a late-ish winner for us. We negotiated the second leg before league wins versus Livingston, Ross County and Kilmarnock were sandwiched by an aggregate win over Brondby IF rounding off a good month for The Gers. Strangely enough, all goals from the 8th August -29th August were all scored by Ryan Kent, Ryan Jack or Jermaine Defoe. The main talking point of August being another long-term injury, this time James Tavernier. Both wing-backs out injured. Great!
Early September we received our ‘Euro Cup’ draw – although let’s just call it the Europa League from now, ey? The draw pitting us in a somewhat group of death with Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade, Arsenal and Germans with a rich history in European competitions – Borussia Monchengladbach. Honestly, I think we’ll struggle to get out this group, the board want us to achieve first knockout round at a minimum, but I doubt they envisaged getting such a difficult group.
Following another two routine league wins, one at home versus St. Johnstone and the other away St. Mirren. We hosted the Serbian champions and played out a dour 0-0 draw. Then we had our first Old Firm of the season. We made the short journey to Celtic Park. Unfortunately, we suffered our first defeat at the hands of our biggest rivals due to an Odsonne Edouard goal.
Looking at the match in more detail, I would say we were unlucky to taste defeat. We dominated possession away at our arch-rivals. Not an easy feat by any means. Although Celtic took five more shots than us. We were able to get five on target to their six.
We created many good chances in the match, with several shots within the six-yard box that were saved by Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
We bounced back from the loss to Celtic with wins against Dunfermline and Ross County before a heavy 4-0 loss away at Borussia Monchengladbach. The Scottish Premiership after seven games therefore, looks like this.
We sit in second on 18 points. Three points behind leaders Celtic but also have an advantage of three points over Hibs in third. We are bottom of our Europa League group on goal difference, with a tricky trip to the Emirates coming up.
My next article will update you on the progress around New Year, just before the transfer window opens and what signings I feel are necessary, if any at all. Unless we reach the Betfred Cup Final of course – In which case we’ll have a one-off special!
Thanks for reading and hopefully I can bring you news of a trophy in the coming weeks.
Written by Connor Hindley – @FinbackAnalyst on Twitter