Lyon

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lbb
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Lyon

Post by lbb » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:13 am

Rangers need 6 or 7 players bringing good performances to the team to have any chance in Europe. Last night maybe only 2 or 3 players could say they did their bit. Too many players had an off night for us to have a chance.

In saying that, Darcheville had the chance to make it 1-1 and if he'd scored, I don't think Lyon would have scored the two goals late on. Overall, though, we were too off the pace of the game and lacked the workrate and composure we had in Lyon.

I thought McGregor made a poor attempt at the first goal and perhaps even the second (though I'd like to see that one again). I've never seen Hemdani turn into so much trouble as he did last night whilst Cousin's body language and attitude were all wrong and, in hindsight, it was a mistake to play him as he clearly sees his future elsewhere.

I think 3-0 flattered Lyon somewhat - though they could point to Juninho hitting the cross bar and the effort Whittaker cleared off the line. I don't think there was 3 goals in it but I suppose they would say the same about the match over there.

It's a hard one to take but ultimately Rangers were in Pot 4 at the group draws and a group with Barcelona, Lyon and Stuttgart was always going to see us have difficulties qualifying. As it turns out, we managed 7 points more than many commentators thought we would. The manner of elimination will hurt but if we'd beaten Lyon 3-0 at Ibrox last night after losing 3-0 over there (as many people expected) would people feel the same way? The UEFA Cup might not seem much consolation just now but with a decent draw there is a chance of some good progress in the spring. That was more than anyone could reasonably have expected in August.

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Post by nightfire » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:50 am

If Darcheville had scored then I think Rangers would have gone thru but what a miss :shock:

They should have bombared what looked like a poor goalkeeper with Boyd available to pick up what the keeper then dropped

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Post by Rob » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:59 pm

We have been here before with Walter, I don't think he has any idea how to prepare a team for European competition. he got lucky with the Germans the worst German champions for many a year. The Lyon result was a freak. And Barcelona was a lesson in how to keep the ball. I never thought we would win against Lyon we are not in that class. Last night not one cross got past the first defender. But really gets me with Smith is why he takes so long to make changes. I think the simple fact is that Rangers for whatever reason lost a great opportunity with Paul Le Guen. Rangers need to think hard about where they want to go. Under Walter we will never see youngsters getting a chance. We have some great young players Furman and Lennon spring to mind. Its a pity they are not 35+ cause they would get a game then.

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Post by bobby s » Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:28 pm

Rob wrote:I think the simple fact is that Rangers for whatever reason lost a great opportunity with Paul Le Guen.
I thought that too. I thought he had a long term vision. I think Walter benefitted from the young players who were given the chance under PLG. They certainly wouldn't have got that under Walter.
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Post by lbb » Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:56 pm

nightfire wrote: They should have bombared what looked like a poor goalkeeper with Boyd available to pick up what the keeper then dropped
I would like to have seen more shots on goal for that very purpose. Thomson, in particular, got into a couple of good shooting positions but always looked to lay it off. It was definitely worth a pop. Celtic got 2 late goals against AC Milan and Shakhtar from speculative digs from the edge of the box - one the keeper made a mess of and the other took a wicked deflection in the crowded box. It's always worth a try.
Rob wrote:We have been here before with Walter, I don't think he has any idea how to prepare a team for European competition. he got lucky with the Germans the worst German champions for many a year. The Lyon result was a freak. And Barcelona was a lesson in how to keep the ball. I never thought we would win against Lyon we are not in that class. .


Too many players just didn't bring their performance to the game. As I said, we're not good enough to carry players on nights like this.

I'm curious as to what people thought Rangers could do in the tournament. If we'd started badly and recovered with a couple of late wins to secure UEFA Cup football, I can't help but feel people would be praising Walter for recovery from a difficult position in a difficult group.
Rob wrote: I think the simple fact is that Rangers for whatever reason lost a great opportunity with Paul Le Guen.
I don't think there's any evidence that Le Guen would have Rangers any further forward than they are today. A manager who was intent in persisting with Hemdani and Svensson as his central defensive 'partnership' could never be said to have perfect judgement.

As for his youth players, he very nearly ruined the careers of Alan McGregor and Alan Hutton. Furman and Lennon have looked tasty in the reserves and I would like them to get a run out in the team. We'll see what happens. Smith has already stated on record that John Fleck will feature in the first team this season so he clearly has him marked for big things.

Fans can be impatient, though. It's hard to believe now but there was a time during the terror months of 2005-06 when some Rangers fans were going bananas that Charlie Adam, who was on loan at St. Mirren and scoring goals, wasn't being recalled to Ibrox because he was just the kind of player these fans thought we needed. Now that Adam is an established first team squad player, albeit with an up and down career, the same fans want him banished from Edmiston Drive as symptomatic of everything that is wrong with the club. Guys like Furman get praise now but give him 10 games in the first team and the same fans will want him deported back to South Africa - Barry Ferguson got it in his first run in the team in 1997-98.

I'd like Smith to play more of the young guys but it's unfair to say that they have been completely ignored.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:15 pm

A couple of things can be said in defence of Walter Smith - firstly he wasn't to know that key performers for Rangers this season like McGregor and Hutton would put in their worst shifts for a long time. Secondly, Rangers have been here before and not just under Walter. Dick Advocaat's teams in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 both ended up in the UEFA Cup after holding promising positions in the group and the names of Panathinaikos and Auxerre are a reminder of what happened under Alex McLeish when a home draw was needed to remain/progress in Europe.

But that's about all that can be said in his defence.

Smith claimed before last night he didn't know how to play for a draw then sent out a formation designed to do just that. He played just one striker and that was a player at odds with his team-mates. I wouldn't be surprised if Cousin was the recipient of a few empty coke cans and pizza cartons at half-time (though if he was lucky it would have been Darcheville doing the chucking).

Fifteen minutes into the game and suddenly instead of the status quo being okay, his team must score if they are to progress. Okay, no need for panic but half-time arrives and the situation is still the same. So what does he do? Replaces his useless lone striker by sending on a player who isn't even an out-and-out striker - Naismith - who he's only given three starts to since signing him and charges him with rescuing the match.

For the first 25 minutes of the second half Rangers played without a recognised striker in a match in which they had to score. Then when he DOES bring on a striker he opts for the one who's not fully fit - Darcheville - in preference to Boyd. Also on the bench is a player - Adam - who has played some part in every other group match and has two goals to his credit - their TOP SCORER in the group in fact. His arse also remains firmly parked on the bench.

Finally with six minutes to go Smith throws caution to the wind by introducing a second striker. In a home game when they have to score a goal it has taken 84 minutes to play two up front!

I think this shows that Walter is still sending his sides out exactly the same way he did in the 1990s. Ultra-cautious, reliant on his foreign players, unwilling to trust the Scots in his squad. It didn't work then - we were even treated to a 'Van Vossen' moment from Darcheville - and it hasn't worked now.

Yes, at the outset third place would have been seen as an achievement. But like Advocaat's side of 2000-01 after a flying start it's a disappointment.

As for the UEFA Cup Rangers will now face a group runner-up. There are as many as 23 clubs still in the frame as potential opponents and quite a few of them would be big draws but substantial obstacles in the way of Rangers going any further in that competition. Panathinaikos, Atletico Madrid, Villareal, Fiorentina, AEK Athens, Hamburg, Bayern Munich are a few they'd wish to avoid.

Of course there's always the chance they might get one of the 'weaker' sides like Helsingborg - though I understand they've got one player who has a half-decent scoring record against Rangers.

Finally, speaking of the UEFA Cup, I think it's a shame a once-great competition has been devalued by UEFA. As happy as I would be to see Aberdeen make the last 32 I think it's a nonsense that a side like the Dons, having played five matches, won none and scored just twice in the tournament, are still in with a chance of reaching the next stage.

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Re: Lyon

Post by Skyline Drifter » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:32 pm

lbb wrote:I thought McGregor made a poor attempt at the first goal and perhaps even the second (though I'd like to see that one again).

That was more than anyone could reasonably have expected in August.
I was out last night and didn't see much of the game. Ironically, I saw the first 20 minutes and the last ten so I saw all the goals but can't comment on the flow of the game in between.

I certainly thought the defending on the first goal was collectively poor, especially McGregor's palm out into middle of the goal, and Cueller's mistake on the second was criminal. I don't think there's much could be done about the third and it was irrelevant by then anyway. I do agree that Darcheville should have scored and that had he done so it would have finished Lyon though I've no idea if it would have been fair or not.

It's very disappointing that Rangers failed to make it through. I for one thought they did have a decent shout at it back in August. Lyon are nowhere near as good a side as they were a couple of years ago and Stuttgart are the weakest German champions in decades. Barca were obviously going to win the group but after winning the first two games Rangers should have managed to fall over the line for second, especially with the bonus of a point nicked from Barca. They were a little unlucky that Stuttgart took nothing from Lyon and indeed in defeat in Germany. I thought Rangers hould have been more than one up at half time in Stuttgart instead of being hauled level in injury time and the Stuttgart winner was very fortunate at a time when Rangers looked the more likely to score. UEFA Cup is still a rreasonable prize for them but it should have been so much better from the position they had.

I have to say that I don't understand why Boyd doesn't feature more for Rangers and in particular it's beyond my comprehension why the most natural goal snaffler at the club and probably in Scotland isn't used until six minutes from the end when it was apparent they needed a goal from the first fifteen minutes. I think Walter Smith has done a very good job over the piece both at Scotland and Rangers but this baffles me frankly. None of the three players who were at times used up front before that have anything like as good a goalscoring record. Crazy.

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Post by bobby s » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:13 pm

lbb wrote:I don't think there's any evidence that Le Guen would have Rangers any further forward than they are today.
6 European games, no defeats. No defeats at home. I think a PLG Rangers side would have safely negotiated last night.
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Re: Lyon

Post by bobby s » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:20 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote:I have to say that I don't understand why Boyd doesn't feature more for Rangers
In the SPL, 49 starts, 13 subs, 43 goals. That is top quality. A luxury? You are joking - it's the bad players that are the luxury.
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Post by Rob » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:34 pm

I have seen the reserves and the under 19 teams a few times this season and without a doubt its the best group of players we have had in a long long time. I fear for them if they have to wait for Walter to give them a chance. I honestly thought that when Rangers got into financial difficulties that it could be the best thing that had happened. It would mean that we would have to bring on youngsters, Which is i believe the only way to have a chance in Europe. But under Walter this opportunity could be wasted. He will go out and sign players who are over 30 and looking to pick up a final pay check before retirement. If he buys a striker in January IE-Kenny Miller it will prove to me he doesnt have a clue. He should get young Fleck on the pitch now. here is not a striker at Rangers to touch him. I don't care if hes only 16. Every time I see him he gets the ball his first touch is perfect the next touch its on its way towards goal. Scotland has a superstar in the making I hope Walter doesnt ruin his career.

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Post by Scottish » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:58 am

I'm sure this has been mentioned before but I think I'm right in saying that the only Scottish player to make his debut under Walter Smith's management and go on to be capped by Scotland is Barry Ferguson. Which, considering seven years at Ibrox, four years at Goodison and now almost a further year at Ibrox is pretty poor.

Yes, I know it's not the job of the Rangers manager to produce players for Scotland but when our biggest clubs (and Celtic under Tommy Burns weren't exactly prolific either which is another good reason for not considering him for the national team job) aren't producing players good enough for the national team then the latter is bound to suffer - witness the lack of native talent in the top sides in England at the moment.

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Post by lbb » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:47 am

Kris Boyd started 7 UEFA Cup matches last season and scored 2 goals - a penalty kick against Livorno and a goal against Hapoel Tel-Aviv. He also missed a penalty kick against Maccabi Haifa. Could he have made the difference for Rangers in the Champions League? I simply don't see it. I suspect Walter Smith's mind was made up when Boyd led the line, as it were, against Hapoel in Tel Aviv and Osasuna at Ibrox in the UEFA Cup last season. In both matches, Rangers struggled to keep the ball in forward areas and Kris Boyd personally struggled in both these matches. In comparison with Darcheville's performance against Stuttgart or Cousin's performance against Lyon in Lyon then it was night and day, tbh. The general consensus, and it seems to be shared by the Rangers manager, is that Kris Boyd is either unsuited to European football or unsuited to the way Rangers play in European football, or both. I don't know how it can be solved.

His domestic statistics are undoubtedly impressive. However, he can't shake the perception that a good number of his goals are against the 'weaker' sides in the SPL - 21 of his 43 SPL goals have came against Kilmarnock, Falkirk, Inverness and Dundee United, for example. Does he do enough in big games for Rangers in terms of goals and work-rate? The feeling is he does not. I'd try him up front with Darcheville for a few games to see how they fare together but that's just my opinion. As for Darcheville coming on instead of Boyd against Lyon, people should bear in mind Darcheville's contribution against Stuttgart and that he'd left Kilmarnock's defence punch-drunk after about 20 minutes on his last outing. He was in good form and was more suited to the Champions League, it was thought.

I can't agree with the assertion that Paul Le Guen would have fared better in these matches - leaving aside the small matter of whether Rangers would even be playing in the Champions League if he'd remained in office. The UEFA Cup group he competed in bears no comparison to the Champions League group in which Smith has just participated. Even then, there were some ropey performances - away to Molde was awful and saved only by McGregor (who was then promptly dropped by Le Guen for Letizi), the home leg was only marginally more interesting and the match in Auxerre had Rangers defending of an early 1980's vintage.

The formation was one that had been deployed in the other 5 matches with various degrees of success. If Smith had suddenly adjusted it, and it had gone belly-up, he would have been criticised for tinkering with a successful formation on the night of a big match. Rangers had managed to score 7 goals in the campaign (2 more than Celtic) playing exactly this formation. It was clearly anticipated that Whittaker would supply the pace that Beasley would normally have done - and he had a competent, though not outstanding, attempt at it and did commit Lyon players. Smith certainly erred in selecting Cousin and erred again in keeping him on the pitch for as long as he did. I try not to get bogged down too much in tactics and formations - ultimately, if people don't play well then you can play any formation you like. Yes, it's important that you're set up correctly and are organised but if the performances aren't there, you will struggle. Wasting every set piece opportunity didn't help either. I think it's unfair to say that it took 84 minutes to go 2 up front - by this point, Rangers had McCulloch, Naismith and Darcheville in the front line area with Ferguson pushing forward, as he did for Darcheville's chance. How many forwards do people want on the pitch?

It is undoubtedly disappointing from the position Rangers were in but some perspective wouldn't go amiss. It should also be remembered that Celtic needed a draw in Milan and lost but were rescued by a surprise Benfica win in Donetsk. A Stuttgart win against Lyon would have been very handy come 9.30 on Wednesday. Them's the breaks, though, but it shows there is a fine line in qualification.

John Fleck looks a talent and I think he will get his chance at Rangers. If it's any consolation for some folk, I don't think Walter Smith will be Rangers manager for very long, irrespective of results. The end of the 2008-09, at the latest.

Steven Pressley would also meet your criteria - debut by Smith and subsequently capped by Scotland. It's safe to say, though, I cannot think of many young players who left Rangers in Smith's first spell and who went on to prove his judgement wrong - and I would include Pressley in that.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:06 am

lbb wrote:Steven Pressley would also meet your criteria - debut by Smith and subsequently capped by Scotland. It's safe to say, though, I cannot think of many young players who left Rangers in Smith's first spell and who went on to prove his judgement wrong - and I would include Pressley in that.
I thought Maurice Ross might be one but I see on checking that he made his first team debut after Smith's departure.

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Post by lbb » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:53 am

Skyline Drifter wrote: I thought Maurice Ross might be one but I see on checking that he made his first team debut after Smith's departure.
You could add, I'm sure, Charlie Miller to the ever-growing list.

It is a fair comment to say Smith doesn't have a record of playing young players on a regular basis. The only question is whether there is a circular argument to be had - were they poor players so that's why Smith didn't play them or did Smith not playing them hinder their development thus making them poor players.

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Post by Scottish » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:15 pm

Sorry, I should have said Rangers players. Both Miller & Pressley were only capped after being shipped out of Ibrox. And Pressley surely proved Rangers wrong as his subsequent career shows. A case can also be made for at least John Spencer and Dave McPherson of the Scots shown the door by Walter.

Regardless of the merits of Boyd/Darcheville the points I was making were that Darcheville wasn't fully fit and that it took until six minutes from time to field two strikers in a home match when it had been a necessity to score at least one goal from the 15th minute onwards. Also that Rangers top scorer in Europe this season remained on the bench for the full 90 minutes

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