Struth drug needed as languid Rangers turn drama into torpor

Rangers 0 Borussia M'gladbach 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The unveiling of a bust of Struth, who won 18 titles in a 34-year reign, was the only notable event. In Struth's day, the only contest at the stadium during July was the club's sports day on the old athletics track. It's a pity that was not adhered to yesterday.McLeish knows a step up is required from this feeble contest when Rangers open the defence of their Scottish Premier League championship on Sunday.

This was Rangers' first appearance at Ibrox since clinching the title on the dramatic final episode of last season but the raucous celebrations of May were replaced by summer torpor and swathes of empty seats.

The most notable absentees were in the Borussia Mönchengladbach camp. Dick Advocaat arranged this fixture last winter as part of the deal that saw Craig Moore move to Germany but both have since parted company with the Bundesliga club. Advocaat was sacked as manager in an attempt to avoid relegation and the Australia defender Moore was fired after turning up drunk to training.

Mönchengladbach are no longer the force they were in the 1970s, when they won the Uefa Cup, but the support is passionate and some 500 went to Glasgow and saw their new signing from Norwich City, Thomas Helveg. Christian Ziege, Liverpool and Tottenham fans will not be surprised to hear, was injured.

For Rangers, there was only one new face to watch. Jose Pierre-Fanfan's rugged approach enjoyed cult status at Paris St-Germain but there was a softness in Rangers' defence that saw them carved open three times in as many minutes around the half-hour.

Thomas Brioch ought to have given Mönchengladbach the lead when faced with just Ronald Waterreus to beat. However, the striker's shot smacked off the post and back into the goalkeeper's arms. Moments later Marek Heinz's free-kick begged Wesley Sonk to finish it off but the former Ajax striker's diving header from four yards flew wide and then Sonk missed an open goal in the next attack by casually tapping his shot wide of target.

For Michael Ball, Dragan Mladenovic and Zurab Khizanishvili, this was all about being in the shop window. The trio have been transfer listed by McLeish whose patience with Ball and Mladenovic evaporated, withdrawing both at half-time.

At least Khizanishvili justified his stay of execution by preventing Rangers from going behind after 68 minutes by hooking Peter Kluge's net-bound shot off the line after Waterreus had been exposed by Pierre-Fanfan's error.

Another of McLeish's new signings, Federico Nieto, almost marked his introduction from the bench by scoring 12 minutes from the end but the Argentinian's header was pawed away by the goalkeeper Michael Melka. So, the phoney war ended without a shot being struck in anger - the real thing begins next weekend.

Comments