PEDRO CAIXINHA believes his new look Rangers side should have been capable of banging in more than just the one goal last night but reckons that they will add to their tally in the return leg in Luxembourg.
Progrès Niederkorn will now be looking to take advantage and try to mount a big Europa League upset in what now looks likely a tricky away tie for the side that finished third in the Scottish Premiership.
With St Johnstone losing 2-1 at home it is further proof that Scottish sides really are vulnerable in these summer European Qualifiers. This time last year Hearts were going out to a team from Malta so the danger signs are there for all to see.
Kenny Miller once again proved to me the match winner for Rangers when he opened the scoring just before the interval. The impressively large crowd at Ibrox thought that he’d also opened the floodgates but the tiny minnows thought otherwise and shut up shop successfully in a poor quality second period.
Caixinha appreciated the backing his players – who aren’t yet able to overcome various language barriers to be able to speak to each other – received from the stands.
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) June 30, 2017
“It was a great atmosphere. I think that the connection between the players, between the stands, and between the whole stadium was great,” the Rangers manager said.
“I think the team in the first half produced great football, great moments of football, but we just missed a little bit on the last third. We could have scored and should have scored a little bit more goals.
“In the second half the team’s rhythm fell a little bit. We tried to make one change that, along the game was not the best one. We tried to, with Niko and Kenny, call more responsibility and have more of the ball in between lines in order for Jack to stay to alone in front of the centre-halves.
“That was not so good, so we could not have the ball down there and we allowed the opponent to have some transitions. So we needed to balance again, calling Jordan Rossiter on the pitch. We reversed the triangle in the middle again.
“Instead of one-two, we changed to playing two-one again so the team have more ball, more balance, but we could not arrive with the quality and the aggression we want and the presence as well that we want and we will keep working to have that in the last third.
“I think the team had more than enough to maybe to score more goals. We know that we are winning one-nil, this is just the half time, nothing is done, and we need to go to Luxembourg next Tuesday with the will and the desire on our mind that we need to do everything and win the game. That is all that matters.
“It’s not a question of the away goal or a draw or whatever, the mentality is about win the game, it’s the only point that matters to us.”
RANGERS AND THE NEW COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIP WITH SPORTS DIRECT
Rangers last week announced that they had reached an agreement with Sports Direct regarding a new retail deal following their initial contract.
The one that was torn up amid the long running controversies surrounding the fact that most of retail profits were not being reinvested back into Rangers. The Ibrox outfit’s initial seven-year retail contract was scrapped after supporters opted to boycott the club’s retail stores, as much of the retail profits went into a separate company fund known as Rangers Retail Limited, which has now been wound up.
The new deal is reportedly “on terms substantially different from the terminated agreements,” meaning Rangers will now liaise directly with the sports retailer, whose reputation had also taken a nose-dive in recent times following reports of poor treatment of its warehouse employees.
Rangers revealed on their official website: “Supporters now have certainty that any money they spend on Rangers products will be hugely beneficial for the club.”
And that “the new deal will deliver real value for Rangers and SD.”
The club’s chairman, Dave King, has also confirmed that he along with other key shareholders – namely George Taylor, Douglas Park and George Letham – have agreed to provide additional funds to the club in the form of interest-free loans designed to give the club’s new boss, Pedro Caixinha enough clout in the pre-season transfer market in a bid to better challenge Celtic in the new season.
The battle for supremacy in the Premiership is all the talk of the Scottish punters with only the chances of Andy Murray living up to his 3/1 chances of securing a third Wimbledon title on a similar level at present.
Caixinha has been a busy man in the closed season, bringing in eight new faces to the club as he seeks to complete a rapid overhaul of the squad.
The arrival of Mexican international duo, Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera appear to be intriguing captures and somewhat of a coup considering the status of the SPL outside of the U.K. at present.
Pena and Herrera, along with five other new faces were named in Pedro Caixinha’s squad to face Luxembourg outfit, Progres Niederkorn, in their Europea League first qualifying round tie last night. The match finished 1-0 to Rangers with veteran Kenny Miller scoring the only goal. The return leg is next Tuesday in Luxembourg.
The club is also hoping to include their eighth capture of the summer in the shape of Portuguese winger Daniel Candeias and from the Turkish side, Alanyaspor, but due to paperwork reasons, Candeias will have to bide his time until he can make his Rangers debut.
The Europa League may be considered by some as a distraction to Caixinha and Rangers’ bid to become genuine SPL title challengers once again, but it should certainly be a confidence boost – if only to the supporters – to see the blue half of Glasgow performing on the European stage once again.
Meanwhile, striker, Joe Garner started the exodus of players signed by former boss, Mark Warburton earlier this month, agreeing to a three-year deal with the English Championship side, Ipswich Town. Six other players were left out of Caixinha’s Europa League squad, namely Andy Halliday, Matt Crooks, Rob Kiernan, Harry Forrester, Michael O’Halloran, and Joe Dodoo, all of whom would now appear to be surplus to requirements.