Every Rangers supporter is entitled to wake up a happy bear this Monday morning. Notice has been served that our club are well and truly back and that normal service is very much being resumed. Scotland most famous and successful football team is back bossing Glasgow like it always has.
December was always going to have a huge bearing on how our season panned out. With vital games in the league, Europe and cup it was clear it would play a massive part in shaping our season. With Aberdeen away, the cup final and Young Boys at home failing to bring a victory, it was clear that Rangers mentality and character was being questioned very early in the month.
European qualification was achieved and despite the pain of the cup final, Rangers were playing some good stuff and showing we are a good side. When you don’t get the luck or big moments in games it’s natural to question the players mentality but it’s clear this team are way improved from that of last season.
The character of the club and players since the final disappointment has been immeasurable.
People were rightly questioning if Rangers could respond and if Rangers were simply destined to crumble and not produce when the pressure was on.
Starting at Motherwell, three clean sheets on the bounce culminating in victories at Hibs and Kilmarnock proved Rangers had the metal required to last in this title race. We didn’t mope and feel sorry for ourselves which could have happened after the cup final. The players took the performance of the cup final and kicked on from that
Rangers were solid in Motherwell which set the tone to thrash Hibs at Easter Road on the Friday before Christmas. The impressive nature of both performances and determination to get past a stubborn Kilmarnock set Rangers up perfectly for the trip to the East end of Glasgow yesterday.
There was a determination and confidence amongst the support which was reminiscent of a time when we made these games as routine as they should be.
Rangers were ready
Our opposition was at full strength, they had a referee of choice and they were at home. They have no excuses to the fact Rangers absolutely bossed them all over the park for the second time this month. They will say they didn’t perform, they will say their big players had an ‘off day’, they will say that they were unlucky in moments – The truth is Rangers are simply the better side and didn’t allow any of these things to happen
For the second time, in several weeks, our management got it spot on and the players carried out instruction perfectly. Rangers pressed them perfectly, allowing weaker players to have the ball and only pressing them when they got into certain positions. For example, Frimpong was allowed to carry the ball until he got into the final third when Barisic or Kamara would press him into retreating and playing a pass back to his defenders or anonymous captain, breaking the play perfectly.
Rangers forced the wingers inside then crowded play to win the ball back perfectly. Once they hunted the ball we would then spring forward and used the ball well. Rangers dominated the ball perfectly and when they didn’t they were organised, resolute and determined enough to make sure the opposition couldn’t hurt them. The shape of the team was measured and controlled. Individually to a man we were spot on and the players stood up. Players who have had a fair share of criticism really proved their metal to not only play for our club but make us a successful one.
None of this is a fluke. In four of the last five games Rangers have dominated the opposition and yesterday was a clear marker that times have clearly changed, it is Rangers who are now the better organised, the stronger mentally and have the better players.
Quite simply Rangers are the better team
Rangers deserve massive credit for the balls they showed and ability to go to their own midden and outgun their opponents with relative ease.
The quality of Rangers first goal was a perfect example of the football we are capable of producing. Winning the ball back in our right back position, Kamara, Davis and Aribo played a triangle of passes to spring Rangers clear. A dozen passes later and Barisic would gather the ball on the left to play a sublime pass into the feet of Ryan Kent who would tuck away a left foot strike with a quality he finds easy.
None of this was a surprise as Rangers are more than capable of this type of move and play. It’s an absolute credit to the management who have taken this club from humiliation to bossing the fixture in just twenty months.
That said, all of this was done with a referee who started fairly until it became clear who was on top. There was then some baffling moments which on clear reflection need highlighting. We won the match and some will say why bother questioning Clancy? When you look at it then it’s verging on cheating if not severely incompetent.
As Rangers were on top bossing things the mask slipped to give an extremely weak penalty for an incident which happens several times in every match. Indeed, it was conveniently missed when Joe Aribo was pulled over in the second half. Three times yesterday there was similar pulls on our players and the only time it was noticed was when it benefited the home side.
The sinister goings on continued when he failed to show a second yellow to Bolignoli for clearly pulling back a promising Rangers attack but couldn’t wait to show Katic a yellow for the slightest of pulls at the penalty. Consistency?
Ryan Christie was also allowed to pull Aribo over (above), hand ball and stop a Rangers attack forward but not before crudely grabbing Morelos by the balls as he skipped by him. The whistler deemed all of that not worthy of a second caution.
Then it goes from sinister to ridiculous as Morelos is taken down whilst clean in on goal and the free kick is given the other way
Four minutes were magically produced from a game which saw no injuries or moments in the second half which somehow rose to SIX minutes when it was clear his team needed an extra hand. During this time Ryan Jack was crudely scythed down and again, bizarrely, the official gave the decision the way of the home side.
Of course there was still time for Clancy to send Alfredo off and his persecution of the player is now a real concern. He has previous for sending Alfredo off (Aberdeen last year which was rescinded) and the weak nature of the first card was laughable when you consider what went before. When put in context of his performance it’s surprising that he choose to send off our player given what was allowed to pass before.
I’ve never bought into the possibility that an official would cheat, I’ve always thought that this particular official was hugely incompetent instead, indeed I said last week I had no concerns at his appointment because I didn’t believe cheating was possible. Yesterday left me baffled several times and leaning towards thinking something more sinister was going on.
Make no mistake, Rangers went to that place and beat their best side possible and a sympathiser official who shouldn’t be anywhere near one of our games. They have NO excuses
But none of that should over shadow the magnificence of Rangers result which puts us in with a real chance of a proper title challenge this season.
For a while this team have needed that win to kick it onto the next level, yesterday it arrived and we are now capable of kicking on.
Rangers now have the confidence and resilience to know they can overcome all odds and win these matches. We have the best squad, we are playing the best stuff and the management are way ahead of anything around us.
January break comes at a good time and the players are deserving of that. We will slightly shuffle the squad on January and their is a budget to improve the squad if the opportunity arrises. I tend to think as many as six players will move on as the squad is thinned down to prepare itself for the second half of the season.
But all of that comes later and for today let’s enjoy this moment. We are back to where we should be, dominating lesser opponents and proving Glasgow is blue
Every Rangers fan should be proud of the club and have a steely determination to now kick on once we return from the break.
For now we enjoy the moment, it’s been a long time coming. Glasgow is Blue, the Rangers are very much on the way and normal service is being restored
Can you see us now?
Have a wonderful New Year folks
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise