This season Rangers Report will run a series of Match Previews entitled, the Big Three, prior to each match. Rather then write in generalities about teams I rarely see – we will ask people who follow the opponent on a daily basis to provide some insight on their club. Their task is to identify a Big Three — three aspects of their club that Rangers supporters should keep an eye on.
The Big Three: Inverness Caledonian Thistle
1. John Hughes
Most fans were extremely surprised (and a few horrified!) when John Hughes was named as manager. He was a candidate who’d barely been mentioned since Terry Butcher departed for Hibernian with Paul Hartley and Kenny Shiels being the major favourites. In the beginning, he was very keen to have the players playing “his way” which led to a very slow, boring and ineffective passing game, where it seemed like every player had to have a touch of the ball before they were allowed to shoot!
This season though has been a different story. Hughes seems to have fully instilled his mark on ICT, with the team playing entertaining, passing football, but also showing a directness when necessary and a drive to score and create chances. The signing of former-ICT man Greg Tansey on a free transfer from Stevenage has been a great move. He’s a player who fits Yogi’s style of football to a tee and acts as a ball player, sitting deep and carving out opportunities. He’s the man who makes the team tick and also possesses a great long shot.
Some people were skeptical that Yogi would even survive this long, but if the team carry on playing as they are just now, he could turn out to be a very good manager for ICT.
2. Man to Watch – Marley Watkins
Perhaps not the most prominent ICT player so far in the media, but the man signed from Hereford has been in superb form this season. Playing mainly at right wing and occasionally up-front this season, he’s arguably one of our best wingers since Barry Robson. Fast, skillful and direct, he looks dangerous whenever he wins the ball and seems to have a good work rate, tracking back to help out his team mates in the defensive stages of the game. He’s also very effective in bringing others into the game.
He was linked with a move to re-join with Terry Butcher at Hibs last January, but due to Butcher himself signing him on a two year deal a few months earlier and a lack of finances at Hibs, he was unable to do so. Watkins stated when he joined ICT that one of his aims was to get a call-up to the Welsh national team (he was born in England, but grew up in Swansea – he’s also eligible to play for France!). If he carries on playing the way he has been so far this season, there’s a chance he may do just that.
3. Form So Far This Season
ICT have been on great form so far this season. As mentioned previously, the players seem to have a real understanding of what Hughes wants them to do this year and look really comfortable in possession and dangerous on the attack. Many supporters were very fearful prior to the start of the season, due to the style of football being played last season and the lack of new signings, particularly up-front. Those fears though, so far seem to be unfounded. ICT are sitting top of the table, winning every game so far bar a 0-0 draw with Dundee and a 1-0 triumph over Celtic in the process. They’re also the only team in Britain not to have conceded a goal so far this season. Carry on like this and another top six finish or even getting into Europe, are real possibilities.