BBC pundit highlights Rabbi Matondo in for Ryan Kent as Rangers intensity falls v St Johnstone
Kenny Miller cited Rabbi Matondo replacing Ryan Kent as he highlighted the familiar issue of Rangers dropping their intensity against St Johnstone.
After another rousing Ibrox European night against Union Saint-Gilloise it was a flat opening half until Malik Tillman reprised his goalscoring role from Tuesday (9 August) by nodding the Gers ahead from a James Tavernier ball in after 32 minutes to take a 1-0 half-time lead.
Key attacking star Kent was dropped from the squad as a precaution, having had some fitness issues of late, and new boy Matondo was brought in.
Miller suggested a drop off from the preferred starts could be an issue with the low tempo early, saying on the BBC Radio Scotland coverage of the game (Saturday 13 August, 3.26pm): “For me they need to bring that same energy as what they did Tuesday night. There definitely seems to be a drop off in the urgency and the tempo of the game, and the way they’re attacking.
“Is that down to maybe personnel as well because I think Matondo is not Ryan Kent. Ryan Kent is obviously a huge loss, and he’s a big part of what Rangers are trying to do.
“But it’s taken on a familiar look.”
A number of the points that were dropped last season, leading to the Scottish Premiership title heading back across Glasgow, came in lulls after big European nights.
There have been plenty of additions to the squad in the summer but the manager will need to get everybody up to speed as quickly as possible to make sure there isn’t the same drop off if he has to rest top players.
Matondo isn’t necessarily the issue because it was a problem that affected nearly everybody on various occasions last year.
Tillman doesn’t seem to be one who has been taken in by it as he showed his excellent leap again to put the home side ahead at Ibrox, just as he had headed home the European winner.
Kent’s fitness for the PSV tie will be key, but the likes of Matondo and other new boys will likely be lifted by the home crowd for the qualifier anyway.
The difference between domestic and European games, at home and in general, is something that the squad has to address if the misses of last year are to be rectified.
In other Rangers news, one manager knows he is going from the “gates of hell” to an even tougher test at Ibrox.