I said just a few weeks ago on this blog that I wasn’t ready to write this Rangers team off. After a difficult week on the park, the CL exit stung and sandwiched in between a defeat at Tannadice, the knives were most certainly out. We are used to people going after us and the glee, with almost certain excitement at a bad spell for Rangers, was clearly evident.
Everyone ready to enjoy the apparent ‘decline’ of this Rangers side. Scotland has been full of propaganda and nauseating fawning at everything that was happening in the East end, compared with the ‘ordinary’ Rangers team that ‘fluked’ a championship. There is most definitely an arrogance and clear failure to acknowledge what this club has achieved. In fact in a perverse way, it was almost being flung in our faces.
But they don’t seem to learn and certainly haven’t fully realised just what this Rangers team is all about.
Traditionally I have always known Rangers to be most dangerous when written off. In many ways an injury crisis and off field issues was a right of passage for me growing up watching Rangers. It was always then that we would come together and galvanise because this is what we are and what we do.
So going into yesterday we couldn’t have been in a worse position really. No manager on the touchline and a backroom staff decimated by Covid 19, pulling staff in from other areas of the club to help make sure we could prepare properly.
The squad also hit hard, our first two goalkeepers and right backs both missing for a ‘start’. Jack, Ofoborh, Katic, Simpson, Wright and Bassey amongst those unavailable. Add to that, the injury issues for Borna Barisic, Ryan Kent and Kemar Roofe who all played through the pain barrier.
Some teams moan and make excuses, this Rangers team rolled up their sleeves and simply dug deep.
See that’s all I really want from our team. Give me everything, run that extra mile, make the 50/50s yours and leave it all on the field. If then we get beat I will hold my hands up and it happens in football, just make sure you give us your everything.
This Rangers team done that and they continue to do it. We are through in the League Cup, qualified for the Europa League and won the first Old Firm of the season, not bad for a team apparently ‘ready to roll over’ and give up our title.
So let’s enjoy this moment and the performance of not only individuals but this club as a whole. Robby McCrorie pitched in for his European, Old firm and league debut came through with massive credit banked. He was confident and assured, the goalkeeper we were told he was going to be for many years. Very comfortable with the ball at his feet, good in the air and a strong shot stopper, we are right to be excited about this young man. All those years of academy work would have been worth it as the stadium chanted his name.
Then there is Leon Balogun. Mr dependable. Picked up last season when Niko got injured and has barely let us down when called upon. He summed up everything about us yesterday, he gave us everything and defended with his life. Numerous last ditch sliding tackles and blocks, he got up and down as much as possible also. He showed the spirit you need in these games. The point to our badge and words in his media post match shows he gets it alright.
Then there is Borna. A difficult start to his season and he lost his place in the team. Did he mope or show a bad attitude? No. He dug in and showed the spirit we needed. He’s clearly struggling with injury and also clearly trying to find his form. But yesterday he gave us exactly what we need again, like those mentioned before. Then he produced that magical moment as he swung in a tremendous assist, exactly what that wand of a left foot is capable of.
The efforts of the midfield as a whole. When we needed a huge effort in the second half, Steven Davis and Glen Kamara stepped up brilliantly. They showed heart, spirit and determination as well as knowing just when to put the boot in. Then Joe Aribo who could control the ball in a phone box. Skill and close control that most can’t handle. Tracking back and the ‘dirty’ side of the game isn’t his strengths but he dug deep also. It was a huge effort by the three of them.
Then the forwards of which two aren’t match fit. Ryan Kent was ruled out until well after international break, as revealed by Heart and Hand yesterday, but fought through the pain barrier and Kemar Roofe also getting up to speed. Alongside Alfredo, the three of them put in a shift and I’ll say this with confidence, that was about a third of what they are capable of. A fully fit attack can trouble that opposition yesterday massively, even then we still hurt them at a fraction of our capabilities.
Then there is the tactics and coaching staff. They got it absolutely spot on and limited the so called threat to a minimum. A perfectly practiced and rehearsed set piece was the difference. We also had a gruelling trip on Thursday and minimal time to recover.
It was a huge effort and I am so proud of this team. Written off and they showed tremendous spirit to get a huge victory. The whole club yesterday pulled together and I am fortunate to see a tiny bit of the ‘inside’ stuff from a media perspective on a match day. The lads who work the doors, the SLO and media team, all hugely polite and welcoming but what’s more is they all love this club as I saw yesterday. It’s a special place Ibrox and just like the team on the pitch, everyone comes together off it also.
So with the transfer window slamming shut imminently, we all wait to see what will happen at Rangers and if there will be some activity. Gone are the days of whispers and rumours surrounding the club so I wait to see what might transpire as much as anyone.
We are vulnerable to a big bid and we will need to see if that comes. Could we get another surprise body in also? I’m not sure is the answer but it would be a nice surprise if we did.
But what yesterday has shown is no matter what happens we will deal with it and come through it together. As a support we need to realise and try to stick with it. Yes there will be bad results and most likely times we don’t perform to our best, but we can trust them and they deserve our ‘everything’ as they give us theirs.
Let’s enjoy yesterday and enjoy the result. Let’s also remember that this is a squad not yet ready or firing to all it’s capabilities and it has a lot to go. Rangers have won so in the coming days we will get everything flung at us, Political outrage, the possession trophy hunters and by Wednesday social media will have blamed us for the tensions in the middle east, ignore it and enjoy the hurt.
They hate this, they hate us but they are going to have to get used to it.
We are Champions and no matter what anyone might try to tell you, the reasons for that are clear. We dig in, we fight and we show why. We are also by far the best team in the country.
No manager, No captain, ravaged by covid? Need more than that to stop us.
You want this title then you are going to have to be prepared for a fight because we won’t give it up easily. We also haven’t even started yet.
Glasgow is Blue, but it’s never been anything other.