Despite an impressive 2021/22 campaign which saw Glasgow Rangers reach a European final before selling both Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey for big money, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have clearly regressed.
The excitement surrounding a return to Champions League football quickly disappeared as Rangers were trounced in six consecutive games in the group stage to set the unwanted record of becoming the worst team in the competition’s history.
A powerful Rangers duo of Conor Goldson and Bassey will be a distant memory for Rangers fans as they were forced to witness a number of defensive horror shows in Europe, with James Sands often the guilty party.
The 22-year-old played just 86 minutes in Rangers’ run to the Europa League final last season and yet this season, he has featured in 325 minutes of Champions League action for the Teddy Bears, which emphasises the lack of options Van Bronckhorst has in defence compared to last term.
Journalist Josh Bunting summed up the situation at Ibrox on Twitter after Rangers were thrashed 4-0 in the opening group game against Ajax and his words still ring true as the Gers finished pointless with a -20 goal difference.
He said: “The board have a lot to answer for not just Giovanni van Bronckhorst. I don’t know how van Bronckhorst said he’s happy with the squad he has this time last year Scott Wright and James Sands couldn’t get near this team now they are regulars. Absolutely ridiculous.”
In the Champions League this season, Sands has been ranked as the worst player in Van Bronckhorst’s side, averaging a truly woeful 5.74 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
His displays in the Premiership haven’t been much better, as he has averaged a 6.60 rating which ranks the 22-year-old as the 12th-best performer, which begs the question of why the Dutch manager continues to select him.
Although injuries have forced Van Bronckhorst’s hand somewhat, with Ben Davies and Goldson currently sidelined, the Dutch manager must realise that Sands clearly isn’t good enough to be a regular in this side and drop him for good