RANGERS have welcomed Manchester United’s Under-23s to the club’s training centre in Auchenhowie today with a behind closed doors bounce game organised for this afternoon.
Former Scotland Under-21 head coach Ricky Sbragia has been in charge of the Red Devils’ second-string side since July and has brought a strong squad to Auchenhowie to utilise the facilities and take part in a friendly match for players not currently on international duty.
Gers interim boss Graeme Murty believes United will provide a great test for his first-team stars and several of the club’s under-20s, as he explained to RangersTV.tv on Tuesday morning: “Well Manchester United Under-23s, with my first ever youth team coach Ricky Sbragia, are coming up.
“They are having a training camp and fancied a game, and we’ve got loads of players who need some game time, so we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get them together and it will be a really good game.
It’s a bit of a no brainer. Man United phone up and ask you if you fancy a game, you don’t really turn that down.
“So we are going to get that behind closed doors, we’re going to look at the players who need minutes and it will be interesting for me actually to take a step back.
“JJ (Jonatan Johansson) is going to take the game, some 20s are going to be involved and I’m going to take a step back. I’m not going to be in the emotion of the sideline.
“I’m just going to go and objectively look at the players and make sure that they get a really good workout and they get to develop themselves and get what they need against some fairly hefty opposition I hope.
“There will be a mix of people involved, there will be a mix of styles involved. We might change a little bit of shape, a little bit of formation, but honestly I’m looking for players to go out and get what they need.
I’m purely looking at game time and looking at certain players getting some physical parameters in, but I’m looking for headaches for Hamilton and if someone steps up and gives me one, fantastic.
“If someone lodges a thought in my head that ‘I’m ready to go’, brilliant. That’s all you can do as a footballer, so I’m quite hopeful for Thursday.”
Murty hopes the Rangers Development Squad players who are involved against United can rise to the challenge.
He added: “It’s great isn’t it? I’m not really a fan of people being in comfort zones or playing games that are simple.
“I like people to really struggle at times because that then tests them, it reveals a lot about them, but it also reveals a lot about our culture.
“Do you go under when it becomes hard? Does your teammate start to point the finger or does he help you and support you? Do our coaches remove themselves from the emotion of it and actually give constructive stuff on the sideline?
“Also, do the players problem solve on the pitch? There was a great occasion against Liverpool with our 20s playing against a 3-4-3 and Liverpool were pushing high and wide and there were spaces all over the place.
“The players were challenged to fix it and one of the turned around and said; ‘We can’t fix it, we’ve never seen this before.’
“That’s fantastic, that’s great as a coach when you hear that because then that opens up the debate, that opens the analysis, that opens the chat where they bounce ideas off each other and they go and try and fix it.”
Fans should note that as the match is a closed door friendly, there will be no coverage of the training game on club channels.