MICHAEL BEALE insists there is ‘motivation and optimism’ in the Rangers squad as they prepare for the start of the Scottish Premiership season tomorrow evening.
A trip to Kilmarnock is where it starts for the Light Blues as they kick-off the 2023/24 campaign at Rugby Park at 5.15pm.
This afternoon, the manager sat down with the media ahead of the opening fixture, he said: “I am really looking forward to it, pre-season is a good time to work and obviously we have refreshed the squad.
"There's a lot of motivation in the building, a lot of optimism and we are looking forward to getting started. It is a tough place to go, but we are just keen to get started now.
“We have had players arriving at slightly different times so there's always the challenge of that, but we have a really strong identity in terms of the way we train and these players were told exactly why they were coming in, where they fit in the squad and what we want from them.
“I have got no issues with that and there's no excuses around that, we play tomorrow against a Kilmarnock team where Derek [McInnes] will be doing the same this summer. A lot of the managers in Scotland have a big turnover as well, I think what we have done is set our club and our team up with a strong squad for the future and the future starts tomorrow.
“I think we'll see a team that has a lot of familiar faces with the excitement of some new ones added in. We are a team that plays between 55 and 60 games a season so there is a lot of opportunity for this team to come together. It is important we start on the right foot tomorrow and with a positive result.”
The manager confirmed that the latest signing, Jose Cifuentes, will come straight into the matchday squad for tomorrow’s game and Beale is pleased with the competition in the squad heading into a busy campaign.
He continued: “There is a lot of competition and the people who earn it will play. No one has been given a free pass, there are no guarantees. It is a strong squad and I think over the season it will bed down and people will make the shirt their own and they've got a great opportunity.
“This month alone up to the international break we are hoping to play nine games across three competitions, so we are going to need everyone.
“Jose trained with the group today and he has been playing since January so he has played a lot of football. I do think the two-week break that he has had before coming in is a good thing because he has been going since January but will come into the squad tomorrow.
“Unfortunately, we lost Ridvan today to a slight strain, we don't know at the moment whether this is going to be days or a couple of weeks - we are hoping we have caught it early. Connor Goldson comes back in the squad, Tom Lawrence is a couple of days away, he had a clash in training and took a bump to his knee, so it is nothing related to the previous injury.”
When asked about the support he has received from the board, Beale says he has been really happy with the transfer business this summer and feels the group now has to show what they can do on the pitch.
He added: “The board listened to my plans straight away when I came in, we made some decisions that on the outside maybe looked tough but with an eye to opening space and finance to bring in some of the guys that we have in.
“The idea was to equip the squad for the coming years not just for one window to the next so what I think we have done is we have recruited a strong squad, it has got good balance and now it is important that this team grows together. I am delighted with the support of everybody in the club and the speed we have worked at.
“This group has got everything to prove, I have got everything to prove, and the club has. Yes, we have recruited some good players, but it is important now this team shows it on the pitch.
“It is one game at a time, and I am expecting a really tough game tomorrow at Kilmarnock and for me the proof will be time and the results that we get.”