Well, January finally came and BOY was I waiting for it! I had a clear view of who to throw out and who to allow in.
What I needed:-
1)An extra striker
2) a defensive midfielder for the UCL games.
Well, I asked for the board for some extra money and they gave it! This was just my first season and I think the huge profit (over a million) we made in transfers in the summer helped! Well, now that my kitty was larger (1.7 million) it was time to do some shopping.
I am pleased to say that Leigh Griffiths finally arrived! Leigh had been in fine form for Hibernian and I pre-bought him way back in July. His transfer worth was just 300k and I paid 1 million for him then. At the time, I wondered whether I actually needed to spend so much on such a player. But now after scoring 10+ goals for Hibernian in the SPL, his market value shot up a lot! I am sure if I tried to buy him now, I would have had to fork out much more than a million! When it comes to his abilities, it was his finishing and his composure that won me over. Both are important abilities for a striker and I needed strikers who would score the slightest of chances. His determination and work rate proved that he is no pushover. And, he is Scottish.
Secondly, from the club of Flamengo comes my second buy for a measly million. He is a DM with deep lying playmaker abilities and has a Makelele feel about him.
1) Kyle Lafferty – Free
2) Sasa Papac – Norwich – 850k
3) Alejandro Bedoya – Vitesse – 1.2 million
Why they left:-
1) Kyle Lafferty left because of his inability to score goals, his terrible goals to shots ratio (23%) and his amazing ability to make mistakes just when a promising counter-attack occurs. I would say I gave him chances, 10 starts and 8 sub appearances, and he still ended up with 5 goals. I tried to sell him, I tried to mutually terminate his contract. In the end, I just released him. I would say a bad player with HUGE wages is off my wage budget. Plus, with Leigh Griffiths and Carlos Fierro both coming, the time to say goodbye had to come.
2) Sasa Papac left because of 2 reasons, 1) Age (30+) and 2) Contract running out. His contract was running out at the end of the season and frankly I did not want to renew it. So when Norwich City came calling, I welcomed them and Papac was sold.
3) Alejandro Bedoya left frankly because of my stupidity, somewhat. In August to November, he did not perform to the required level. His average was in the 6.60′s and I was losing my patience. I acted impulsively, put him on the list at his market value. Vitesse acted fast and took him. It wasnt until later that his match winning performance in the match against CSKA made me realise. But the deal was done and he was sold much to the dismay of the fans.
Here the match schedule for January:-
A relatively easy fixture list. The match against Raith was for the 4th round of the Scottish Cup. The match against Queen of Sth was a semi-final for the League Cup.
Note:- Griffiths didnt join until 10th of January.
I shifted Polworth to the Youth team as his form was dipping and so was his star rating. I put him in the youth squad for the rest of the season and have decided to give more chances to young, Jamie Ness.
Rangers vs Motherwell
A match that could really go either way. This was a tricky match and I wanted us to continue our winning run as winning this would take us to 10 straight wins in the League. I played Lafferty as Naismith was not full fit. Lafferty seized on his 4th chance of the game and put us in the lead in the 18th minute. Motherwell tried to come back but we pinned them to their own half. I play Neil Alexander as the goalkeeper as he wanted more playing time. I put new signing, Muralha on the substitute’s bench. He didnt play. Fleck rounded off the scoring and made the score 2-0. Very dominant performance by Rangers.
Rangers vs Raith
A match against lowly Raith would give me a chance to test my new signing, Muralha. I put McGregor as the keeper as Alexander had been playing for quite some time. Muralha was put in place of Fleck with Saul and Ness finishing the midfield. This match was a mixed bag. On one hand, we dominated the game and won 2-0. On the other hand, we were playing with 9 men 56th minute onwards. Lafferty and Reimerink both sent off. Lafferty didnt matter much but Reimerink was given a straight red card. Damn. Positively, Muralha scored on his debut! Yay!
St. Johnstone vs Rangers
With Naismith still out injured and Kyle Lafferty released, I turned to my new recruit, Leigh Griffiths who had finally arrived. It was time to test him out! I put a more or less same team with Leigh Griffiths replacing the now free agent Lafferty. St. Johnstone were always one of those bogey teams that you encounter and Rangers had had some pretty close calls in the past. But this was a match that I am proud to say we dominated from start to finish. Fleck opened the scoring from a penalty. Leigh Griffiths then finished 2 goals from free play. Not bad for a debut. He had a chance of scoring his 3rd and having a hat-trick on his debut from a penalty but it was saved. No matter, 2 goals on a debut is still pretty amazing. I was really happy that Griffiths carried his form from Hibernian!
Aberdeen vs Rangers
Frankly, I really dont even consider Aberdeen rivals anymore. The matches are so one-sided in the game, its similar to Chelsea vs QPR, Barcelona vs Espanyol etc etc. Check this, this is my third match against Aberdeen and we have scored a mind-boggling 9 goals and conceded just 1. Damn! Well, I am proud to say that this time was no different. Since Griffiths was in form, I retained him and I put the fit again Naismith as an inside-forward on the right wing in place of the out of form, Juanma Ortiz (who will mostly leave at the end of the season.) Naismith continued his goalscoring in a new position as he scored the first goal of the match. Jamie Ness (who has been a revelation since his step up from the reserve team) scored his first senior goal while Steven Davis added on the pain. 3 goals in 27 minutes? Amazing! I could smell another goal-fest. Robert Milsom scored a goal but it was no more of a consolation as my team added 3 more goals with Kirk Broadfoot, Saul and Naismith getting on the scoresheet. A 6-1 win. Which now brings the tally to 3 games, 15 for and 2 against. Wow.
Rangers vs Queen of Sth League Cup Semi-final
I had got through using mostly my reserve players. Next season, I definitely plan to introduce more of my youth players next season for the League Cup atleast. Well, once again, I fielded a mostly reserve side, with Leigh Griffiths and Broadfoot being the only main players. We won comprehensively, and the man of the moment, Leigh Griffiths ended up with a treble! His first for Rangers and his 5th goal in 3 games! He seems to be a good buy already!
Rangers vs Hibernian
Griffiths returned to his old side. He spent a quite successful loan career here at Hibernian as he had scored 10+ goals and was the side’s leading goalscorer. He welcomed his old side to the Ibrox Stadium with open arms and 2 goals. Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring in just the 2nd minute and added to his tally in the 21st minute. After that it was Rangers all the way as Saul added on the pain by scoring in the 89th minute. Rangers had now won 12 straight games in the Premier League, creating club history. And I managed that side. Let me tell you readers, it is a great feeling.
We are still first in the SPL, in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and still in both the Scottish Cup and the League Cup. Overall, it is going pretty well!
Be sure to check out the next post as it will contain my encounter against the most feared team in the world, Barcelona.
Hope you liked it!
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