Before I start this I think it’s important to point out that when I started this blog I always said I would be honest. I think it would be disingenuous to sit here and say we were unlucky, played well etc on reflection of Sunday’s semi final at Hampden.
It’s also worth pointing out I am thoroughly behind the management team and the players, but it doesn’t make them immune to criticism. We came up short on Sunday and (not for the first time) we were extremely poor against a team that allowed us to hold onto the ball and were organised behind it
So what went wrong?
First of all I will not pretend to know the tactical ins and outs of the performance, I will give you my opinion of being someone who sits and watches us live week in week out.
Recently we have been playing a 4-3-3 formation and I don’t think that suits any of our players. Ryan Jack is the centre of the 3 in the middle but this forces Lassana Coulibaly out right and he is less than effective there. When both were performing in sync we lined up 4-2-3-1 and both played centrally in front of our back four and drove the team on, similarly when we played 4-4-1-1 in a slight variation.
For me 4-3-3 doesn’t get the best out of our players and forces Coulibaly out right and Ejaria out left, both are far more effective centrally. Our wingers are then too wide from the striker and often (because of the positions of the 3 in the middle) not close enough to the striker.
What also struck me on Sunday is that when we play this way our CBs (just like at Livingston/Hamilton) get far too much time on the ball and are ineffective using it. Joe Worrall guilty of almost costing us a goal 30 seconds in but did cost Ejaria a caution because of teams willingness to let our cbs stay on the ball. In a 4-2-3-1 I feel One of the 2 in front of the cbs picks that up and takes the ball from them driving the team on.
That aside and only small observations I picked up on, it was obvious that too many players played way below required levels. Our wide men Candeias and Kent were wasteful, particularly Candeias who repeatedly hit the first man with many of his crosses. James Tavernier had a very poor game both defensively and in attack, as someone we clearly rely on this obviously hindered us severely.
As previously said, Ejaria and Coulibaly were less than effective because they were wider than they were comfortable with. Defensively we miss the balance Barisic brings and crucially we miss his wonderful dead ball delivery, something which has already brought us two assists as well as one other assist from open play.
Umar Sadiq was wrongly thrown in and it surprised me because it was less than a month since Gerrard savaged him in a press conference. Was it ‘mind games’ or an attempt to motivate him? We’ll probably never know but what was obvious to everyone is that he certainly shouldn’t have lasted the full match. I’m also pretty sure we will not see him in a first team jersey again (again only in my humble opinion)
Which brings me on to my next point and critical observations of our management team, I really feel he is too slow in changing the game from substitute point of view. Giving players five or eight minutes and expecting them to influence the game isn’t working unsurprising, especially in a situation where our opposition are defending with eleven behind the ball.
I’d like to see Gerrard being more proactive rather than reactive to match day scenarios. The manager though never shys away from his responsibilities and I trust him to get it right. He was brutally honest and told people to point the finger his way, a far cry from just saying ‘all I do is put the players out there then it’s up to them’
But I am not an expert, I’m a normal supporter frustrated at having watched an extremely poor performance nor do I pretend to know more than the manager or anyone else.
What I do know is Steven Gerrard tore strips off the team on Sunday and put all the players on notice that if they didn’t step up he would find those that will, indeed he said as much in his pre match press conference
There were also claims on Sunday that this defeat would suddenly make Gerrard move for new players, well that’s not news and as I’ve previously said on this blog, money is available for January and the management team are looking at players capable of making the difference, with an attacking midfielder being the key component of the managers desires. One defeat didn’t suddenly begin to turn the wheels on that one.
I remain fully behind the management team and I remain fully behind the players as well. I do believe in Gerrard and I remain convinced he will get it right but Sunday’s result will signal the end of the honeymoon period in the eyes of Some of our fans in my humble opinion only.
It is time for the club to go on a run and get that consistency, three league wins before the international break is an absolute must. That will also see the club climb the league and it is also worth noting, we are only two points behind our rivals and three behind second who have played a game more. With the top six all playing each other in coming weeks we will move up the league if we can get the results.
We are a good side, results in Europe have proved that and in spells we have performed extremely well, only a few weeks ago performances against Hearts and Vienna showed that.
Let’s stick with the team, remain behind them and help them achieve the consistency we crave.
In other news Dave King released a statement yesterday on the Sports Direct scenario in which he challenged the company on several points. The ongoing situation is messy and disappointing for all of us, but what is pleasing for me is we have a chairman brave enough to stand up to them and not allow us to be bullied.
Sports Direct haven’t paid Rangers a penny of what it’s due from 2017/18 season according to King and as King declared Rangers will seek legal action on that. It is clear to anyone looking in that it is a toxic relationship and the sooner we are out of it the better. But I am glad King is taking it to them and doing his best to stand up for the club.
Whilst it may be popular, from some, to have a pop at King and moan of more legal action, the alternative of letting Sports Direct run ‘rough shot’ and force more onerous contracts upon the club is simply unthinkable.
I back the chairman to do what’s best for the club even if it means more litigation because the alternative is not a road I want my club to go down. It will be messy, frustrating and lengthy but in the end worth it to be rid of a company with no apparent interest in playing fairly with Rangers
Onwards to Wednesday, get behind the team once more and lets get going towards better times on and off the pitch
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise 🔴⚪️🔵