Graham Dorrans did not play in Luxembourg but he is having to live with the fall-out. The Scotland international was en route from Norwich’s pre-season trip in Ireland to Glasgow to complete his deal as his new team-mates stumbled out of the Europa League with nothing but red faces and regrets.
But, while he has no part to play in that debacle, he is determined to help the club build bridges and prove that they are better than that result suggests.
“I actually watched the first game in my house and watched the first half of the second game on my iPad,” said Dorrans, pictured. “But then I was on the flight to come over so I saw the result when I landed. I was as disappointed as everyone. But it is behind us now. It’s gone.
“We have a few friendlies and then the first game of the season coming up fast. We have to get it out of our system, push on and be ready for that first game. The result in Europe was disappointing and everyone in there is hurting. So they are eager for the season to start to show everyone what we are capable of.”
There were signs of that in Saturday’s friendly, where they matched Marseilles and, despite the fact so many of the new faces are still bedding in, they could even have triumphed over the side who finished fourth in France’s Ligue 1 last term. Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha had not envisaged needing many knockabouts, believing the European qualifiers would offer enough competitive action to prepare his players for the new domestic campaign. But Progres Niederkorn put paid to that, rendering Saturday’s friendly a necessity and giving it more weight than most pre-season fixtures would be burdened by.
The team needed to give their fans a glimmer of something they could cling to and with Bruno Alves coming in at the back and bestowing the side with a sense of composure and Dorrans, making his starting debut at Ibrox, and injecting the side with the kind of extra edge perhaps only a guy who has grown up supporting the club can muster, there was enough in the performance to satisfy the support that while things are still a work in progress, they are actually progressing.
“I was here when I was younger. It’s no secret I have been a fan of the club my full life so for me to get an opportunity to come here is great. Hopefully, I can help progress the club back to where it wants to be.
“I think everyone here cares about this club. I have been in the changing room for a couple of weeks now and I can see what it means to everyone. Myself, Bruno and Kenny – the experienced ones – will be in there to help people along. Everyone has passion for his football club and that will help push us on.”
In his programme notes, the Rangers boss said that while Lee Wallace retains the armband, he believed he has at least five captains. Dorrans and Alves are considered two of them, with Kenny Miller and Nico Kranjcar also lending their experience and drive to the cause. “The important thing is that I know that I chose those five for their character. They have the maturity, the leadership and of course the experience to spread to the others what they want and what they need.
“I want those players to not only be players but extensions of myself and be assistant coaches and players at the same time on the pitch. They know the standards and what I want. As long as we are focused then all the processes will come naturally.”
While others, like Daniel Candeias provided spark in Saturday’s draw, it was Kranjcar who contributed the equalising goal.
Going behind to a Valere Germain effort in the 64th minute, after Alves had gone off and the opposition attack had finally been allowed a way through, it was the Croatian striker who sent a beautifully executed free-kick into the postage stamp corner of Steve Mandana’s goal with 15 minutes remaining.
“They were good but I felt we were comfortable in the game,” said Dorrans. “We stayed in good shape, were solid and kept them in front of us. They didn’t cause us too many problems. It was a good, positive performance.
“A club this size is expected to go and win every game so you need characters and a bit of belief that you can do that. I believe we have that in the dressing room. So we can compete in the cups, hopefully win one of the cups and see what happens in the league.”