Steven Gerrard set the scene when he said he demanded the players bring their ‘A game’ & ‘flip’ the feelings of the support after the disappointing draw at home to Hibs. The gauntlet was thrown down to the players to prove they were good enough and they could head into the January break still in league contention
The truth is we haven’t been playing well and we have been struggling for pretty much the whole of the last month heading into the biggest match of them all
Defeat yesterday meant a six point gap and with a game in hand also in favour of our opponents, we really were facing the reality that our season could once again be about a chase for second place
So as we headed into the game yesterday it was natural to feel trepidation, as I sat pre match and waited most folk I spoke to before shared the same fears.
But our team news was promising, Ryan Kent and Scotty Arfield had made it, coupled with a strange selection from the visitors meant expectation had risen slightly. We looked strong and aside of perhaps at left back, we almost had our strongest team available.
The fans were ready, Ibrox was loud and within two minutes the scene was truly set as the Heroic Andy Halliday clattered into Ntcham to win a 50/50 he really was second favourite for. Just what we wanted, the fans were up for it and so were the players
But it was a slightly nervous start and it took us ten minutes before we began to get a grip of the game and from that minute we never took our foot off their necks. The way it should be, the way we have craved for many years
Rangers were magnificent, diving into every tackle and playing hard, giving no respect. From GK to CF every single player was doing his job superbly and when Ryan Jack fired the ball home on the thirty minute mark Ibrox descending into the kind of delirium we have long since craved
That feeling of joy has been missed for six and a half years. Every single person in the stadium, who has followed this journey we have been on, knew just what it meant.
Six years to the very day Rangers took over thirty thousand to Hampden as we beat Queens Park 0-1 through a Fraser Aird strike and here we were with our eleven finally treating them with the same contempt they had treated us. For years they have lorded it over us and for years they have done it easily, mocking us as every turn
I heard someone say yesterday, from the lads at the excellent Heart and Hand podcast, that for us to beat them we had to hate them like they hated us.
Yesterday I finally felt that from our team
All around the pitch those battle were being won. Andy Halliday an absolute colossus at left back, dominating and winning everything. Joe Worrall, much maligned marshalling the defence and snapping into challenges to ensure no break always happened. Ross McCrorie like a man possessed diving in to break up play at every opportunity
Every single battle was being won all round the pitch and it really was wonderful viewing.
The best moment coming when a 50/50 ball was to be contested and Scott Arfield lined up against Scott Brown. Alfredo Morelos had given them the ball back playing it out the field but they demanded it back to contest the ball. Scott Arfield simple got ready, rolled up his shorts and got ready to win the ball with a tigerish tackle. Not only did he do that but Daniel Candeias stood waiting to back up his team mate just incase he didn’t. But there was never any danger of that
Scott Arfield slapped Brown down and showed him to be the paper hard man he has always been. Indeed the only time we saw him was when he was consistently passing the ball into the Sandy Jardine stand
Rangers were lording it and goading their opponents all over the pitch. Diving into tackles then letting them know exactly were they belonged, shouting in their faces and Arfield even mocking Brown with his arms outstretched
It really was absolutely bloody glorious
For years I’ve longed for us to show them that contempt and it finally happened in the sweetest of ways.
You won’t lord it over us anymore
Rangers were thoroughly deserved winners and it really should have been more which is the only complaint of the day
In just six months Steven Gerrard has installed that into our side and he just oozes determination to take us back to where we belong. Make no mistakes he will do that if we trust him and give him the time required to do it
The much loved opposition manager, treated as a saint by the media who crawl all over him at every opportunity, was shown up good and proper as the management team got it completely spot on
We will strengthen in January and we will continue to build towards the perfection we got yesterday. This is still a work in progress and as much as that is annoying to hear it is very much still the truth. We have come a long way in six short months, few results aside it has been a terrific start to the Gerrard reign
But we can be assured that progress is being made and for the first time in several years our message is clear and our message is loud;
We are Rangers, this is OUR city and your days of lording it is OVER
Well done to the players and management for giving us the perfect end to 2018. I could have mentioned every single player from yesterday, every single player was magnificent and they deserve the highest of praise awarded to them.
Over the next few weeks we can dissect the January window, look at rumours and discuss things more in depth.
For now let’s just enjoy the moment and enjoy yesterday’s performance
Rangers are back and our message couldn’t be louder. Have a wonderful New Year bears and enjoy the time with your families
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the the noise