Michael Beale spoke about a “bit of realism in the air” after new-look Rangers’ cinch Premiership title challenge got off to the worst possible start with a 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock.
Brad Lyons’ strike after 65 minutes gave the home side a shock victory and put an early dent in the Light Blues hopes of wrestling the title back from Celtic, who began the defence of their title with a 4-2 win over Ross County earlier in the day.
It was the Light Blues’ first opening-day defeat in the top flight for 25 years.
The Gers boss has signed nine new players so far and he knows he has to get it right for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Servette at Ibrox on Wednesday night.
Beale said: “Not the start we wanted at all. We had good control of the game, we had the lion’s share of possession. Kilmarnock defended extremely well throughout, getting lots of people in and around their box.
“We had a couple of minutes towards the end of the first half that should’ve resulted in a goal. We had 18 attempts at goal, but I can’t remember the Kilmarnock goalkeeper being troubled enough.
“In a game like that when it’s stuffy, when we’re struggling to create clear-cut chances, you can’t concede a goal like we did. It’s a poor one.
“It’s bitterly disappointing for the players and staff but ultimately for the fans who have been excited in the summer, so there’s a bit of realism in the air with that result.
“There’s a lot of work to do moving forward but we’ll bounce back on Wednesday.”
Of Beale’s new boys, Jack Butland, Kieran Dowell, Sam Lammers, Abdallah Sima and Cyriel Dessers made their competitive debuts and Brazilian striker Danilo came on later, but the former QPR boss did not want to use that as excuse.
He said: “I don’t want to go down that road because it seems like a cop-out. I thought Kilmarnock played well and we looked stuffy at times.
“We’ve had five weeks together, they’re quality players, we had enough players on the pitch today who know what this is about.
“We had enough of the game in terms of possession and set-plays, we had more than Kilmarnock but we couldn’t find the answer and if you can’t find the answer you cannot concede a goal like the one we did.”
For Killie boss Derek McInnes, he was pleased to meet one of this season’s targets in the first game.
The former Rangers midfielder said: “It was one of the many things we wanted to improve on.
“We spoke with the team about targets and challenges and one of the first things we had to demonstrate was an ability, personality and confidence to beat Rangers and Celtic this season because we beat every other team in the league last season except them.
“You have to do so much right to beat them.
“I couldn’t single anybody out, it was a proper team performance, a squad performance to win the game.
“Rangers are littered with good players but our performances was good.
“So the fact that we have managed to beat Rangers is one of those boxes ticked and it is an encouraging start, but it is only a start.
“We go in to next week’s game (Hearts) with another thing to address our away form, we won two out of our last three away games last season, but we clearly need to improve our away form and next Sunday gives us an opportunity to address that.”