ASSISTANT manager Gary McAllister believes the club’s winter training camp in Costa Adeje has been great for the Rangers squad following a hectic first half to the 2018/19 season.
After the memorable 1-0 victory over Celtic at Ibrox on December 29, the players were able to take a deserved break to celebrate New Year with family and friends before they travelled to Tenerife on Sunday.
This week a lot of hard work has been put in on the sun-drenched training pitches and McAllister – who has never experienced a winter break before in his long and successful football career – feels the trip to the Canary Islands will be a very important part of the preparations for the second half of the campaign.
Speaking exclusively to RangersTV at the team hotel, he said: “It’s been very beneficial. I think going into the Celtic game at the end of December you could see with the players it was one almighty push for that Old Firm match.
“The players did remarkably well. Not only did we get the right result, I thought the performance was outstanding and also the effort shown.
“The break after that day was really welcome for all the playing staff and I would have to say the coaching staff as well.
From coming back in mid-June and starting in mid-July, it was a massively hectic schedule. Right from the word go there was no respite. We basically played games and recovered, playing game after game. So everybody welcomed the week off.
“I’ve never had a winter break, so to actually get a New Year off, I’ve got to say I’m in favour of it now that I’ve experienced it once.”
When asked if he would have liked a January shutdown during his playing days, McAllister continued: “Absolutely; in saying that I’m a wee bit of a traditionalist and I quite like the Christmas fixtures and then going into the New Year’s fixtures and the FA Cup or Scottish Cup fixtures.
“But the fact is it is a lot of games and there is two domestic cups as well. So looking back now, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, as a player I think it would certainly have benefitted players involved in international football.
“As a player who played in major finals, Euro 92 and Euro 96, the fact that our seasons were big and then going into a major championship; British players have always looked a wee bit off, whereas the German and French have had winter breaks.
“Looking back it would probably have been welcomed back then as well.”
Rangers played nine matches total in December – eight in the Ladbrokes Premiership and one, against Rapid Vienna, in the Europa League – and McAllister believes the schedule was starting to take its toll on the squad towards the end.
He added: “Yeah, you would probably look at our team selection at times and the fact that we couldn’t play a regular starting eleven was due to the fact that there was suspensions but also there were niggles. We had picked up injuries purely down to the physical aspects and the demands on the players.”