5 to Follow - Dundee

This Saturday will see Rangers welcome Dundee to Ibrox, in a match we really must be aiming to gain maximum points from even at this early stage in the season.  

Dundee will be desperate for points, currently sitting at the foot of the table with no points from the opening four games. In a strange way, the international break had come at the best possible time for Steven Gerrard, despite the disappointing result last time out in the Old Firm game at Parkhead. Gerrard will have welcomed the opportunity to work with his players on the training pitch, something he so far had been restricted by the fixture list. Something that I'm pleased to say hopefully won't change, as it means we are going deep in several competitions.   

Here are the 5 storylines to follow vs Dundee 

 1 - GREZDA DEBUT

Like a kid eagerly running down the stairs on Christmas day to open and play with our new toys, I'm sure everyone is excited to see just how Grezda shapes up. He could prove to a real game changer, exactly the type of player we are missing. 

A player who can get the fans off their seats in excitement and anticipation, creating that touch of magic we have so far lacked in games this season. 

As with all wingers, there will no doubt be a frustrating aspect to his game, getting the best out of his creative talent could just be the spark we need in this crucial and congested run of games. It's no secret that last year we struggled to break teams down at home, especially ones who were willing to sit in deep. Players that can get on the ball, take on the fullbacks and get them on their heels are a dying breed in todays game. It's market we clearly feel we can gain value in and so far all sings have been positive. We may finally be getting a scouting network back on track following the spiv years where it was all but scrapped in name only.   

If he is what has been stated and was Osijeks best player then he must be some baller, as we have all been impressed with Barasic since his arrival. Not being fit enough to take part in the two-legged ties against us in the Europa League qualifiers may have just worked to our advantage in more ways that one. 

Joe Worrall is another who could make his Ibrox and Rangers bow having joined on loan from Notts Forrest, this is a player who was subject of a 15 million bid from Burnley not so long ago. If we get anywhere near his potential we have a player on our hands.    

The other new adition Gareth McAuley will not feature with a calf injury following his free transfer. Having not trained a great deal with his new teammates and being short of overall match fitness. I'm happy at this addition as he will provide cover, a player with 80 international caps to his name, who is comfortable all along the back line and has more EPL goals than Arjen Robben, proving how big a threat he is from set pieces, not bad at all.

 

2-RETURN OF MILLER

Kenny Miller returns to Ibrox wearing the dark blue of Dundee having recently joined following his rather strange and short-lived tenure as Livingston manager.   

This one is simple for me, I won't boo or direct any sort of negativity at the player, but he won't get clapped either. He is no Rangers legend in my eyes. 

This is a player who plays for himself, a man who would rather move to Turkey than help out those who were less fortunate than him, despite the fact he had made a tidy sum in his playing career up until that point. The only reason he returned to us ( the second time) was to spite Lawell after being informed he was surplus to requirements across the city. 

So no, Kenny Miller will not get my applause on Saturday. 

If he plays we should look very much to exploit him, running all over the pitch with no, or very little discipline is a tactic that could very well work to our advantage. The headless chicken approach we saw all too often during his 3 spells with the club, if we are to give him any chances just make sure he has time to think about them, we all know he is at the most vulnerable when time is afforded to him. 

 

3 - RESPONSE FROM THE PLAYERS

The players will be well rested and raring to go following a gruelling and tiring run of fixtures, what we need now is a response. Points, maximum points at that are vital in games like this one if we are to embark on the kind of run we require to apply pressure at the summit of the table. 

As a fan base, we are desperate to be up there challenging for the title come the season's end, we must see signs of progress and the next run of fixtures should provide us with just that chance. Last season our home form was pathetic, so far this term it's been our away form that has lacked and at times let us down throwing away key points due to a lack of concentration or discipline.

Momentum and confidence building are key in any push for silverware, so playing a struggling side who sit at the basement of the league should give us a chance for both along with some goals into the mix. 

 

4 - STOP BLAMING REFS 

Now, don't for one second think I am saying the referees in Scotland are of any decent standard, we just can't keep blaming them or using them as an excuse. I know what we are doing applying some pressure so we may get a marginal decision in our favour in future is all well and good, one I hope comes to fruition. I'm just sick of hearing the gripes. 

I can cite many other sports as examples of poor officiating, from tennis to boxing, baseball to basketball its human error, no more so than a manager making the wrong substitution or a player not doing his job.  

Let's look at some key ones, Morelos vs Aberdeen was a red card for me, foul before or after by the Aberdeen player aside, he kicks out its pure stupidity. McCrorie vs St Mirren a red all day long, the manager even admitted so on the occasion. The two reds in the last European match, I think we're just silly. We all knew to go in not to present the official with any reason to get his cards out due to where the match was taking place, yet Morelos proved again he lacks the temperament at this stage to cope. Flanagan's was harsh, but already on a yellow, it wasn't an area of the park that challenge had to be made. Play smarter. What is deemed a yellow in Europe, may not be yellow in our domestic game. We must adjust, they won't adjust the rules for us. 

The last time out vs Celtic at Parkhead it was the Ryan Jack foul that came under scrutiny, its borderline. Jack must be stronger he was far too weak and to easily pushed aside for my liking. If he stands up, gets his body in the way drawing the foul or heads not back where it came from it's not even a topic of discussion. It was poor play, by both Jack and the referee in my mind. Not to mention the ineptitude of the defending in the build-up to their goal. 

The same match saw us get away with a kick out by McGregor, now was it a red that is up for debate, certainly if the referee or linesman catches a glimpse, you leave it open to interpretation.  

Impose our game from start to finish, stop looking for excuses, its what made us so refreshing to watch at the start under Stevie G, a high tempo, hard pressing game.

  

5 - MCCANNS LAST STAND?

I'm sure every Rangers fan will be wishing Neil McCann well in the long run, just not at 3 pm on Saturday. However, I don't think its any secret that the former Rangers player is the next favourite for the sack race in the Scottish Premier League. 

 

Despite starting well, with it saving the Dens Park side from relegation a few seasons back McCann has struggled in the hot seat since then and a heavy defeat at the hands of his former side on a ground where he enjoyed so much success in his playing days will only add fuel to that fire.  

The reason for this is quite simple in my view, as a pundit McCann won many plaudits and rightly so for his honest and abrasive views, on both players and managers alike. I just don't think this kind of attitude carries over well into management. It only serves to alienate players who you need to win matches, not all players take to such a confrontational, others require encouragement and nurturing. 

Placing a large chunk of his faith, budget and hope on Steven Caulker have proved to be disastrous and not helped the situation. A 60% fit and focused Caulker would have made all the difference in a side like Dundee, with the margin of victory and scramble for valuable points so vital and paper thin. 

I like McCann I just don't see him being in the role he currently holds for too much longer I'm sorry to say. 

PREDICTION  - RANGERS  3   DUNDEE  0

Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan)

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