Ibrox is an emotional and somber place as we pay our respects to ‘The Manager’ Walter Smith. Ibrox is awash with tributes on both sides of the stadium and it is a fitting to a man who gave us everything. There is a lot of emotional faces and puffy eyes, I grew up watching Walters Rangers and this is as hard a few days as many of us will have had supporting the club.
Rangers meant everything to Walter and he meant everything to us.
Tonight we welcome Aberdeen and in truth to many of us it’s a long way in the back of our minds regarding importance. We are all saddened and hurting.
But there is one man who desperately wouldn’t accept that in any form, Mr Smith himself. He’d want nothing more than a strong performance and a win for his team, in fact, he would demand it. It fills me with great warmth that he saw his beloved Rangers win 55 and return to the summit of Scottish football, if ever there was a season to deliver another title then it is now, for Walter.
So as I look towards this evenings proceedings I hope you all understand this is with a very heavy heart and for the one man who would have wanted nothing more than a Rangers victory.
Rangers welcome Aberdeen on the back of spells of better performances against Brondby and St Mirren. Brighter play, more direct and quicker build up looks to be returning to our game but again it’s patchy however, both victories should galvanise the team and hopefully encourage them further.
There has been a subtle change in formation and one which Rangers switched too after a difficult first twenty on Sunday, from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. I would like to see us continue that because for me it offers the best from our personnel but that’s of course only my opinion and I’ll leave it to Steven Gerrard to make such decisions!
Rangers start with Jon McLaughlin once more, Calvin Bassey comes in for Borna Barisic who doesn’t feature in the squad at all. The impressive duo of Goldson, Balogun start centrally and captain James Tavernier is at Right back.
Midfield is now becoming a case of John Lundstram and, tonight it is Glen Kamara with Joe Aribo, Ianis Hagi and Kemar Roofe playing behind Alfredo Morelos, fresh from his 100th goal on Sunday.
Looks to me very much like it could be one or the other, 433 or 4231, Rangers personnel is flexible to both.
Aberdeen feature a couple of ex Rangers players at centre back, Ross McCrorie and David Bates, a few ex Celtic players including Hayes, McGeouch and captain Scott Brown. Make no mistake, this will be there cup final and they will be out to prove a major point. Victory at the weekend against Hibs was their first in several months so they will take enthusiasm from that.
I expect a tough game no matter how poor they have been so far, up to us to make sure it doesn’t become a contest.
Tonight is not a night to falter, let’s go Rangers.
First half action –
4 mins – Bassey drives forward after good ball from Goldson, shots low but Lewis deals with it.
9 mins – GOAL! Aberdeen take the lead, utterly dreadful from Rangers. Goal kick which we play short woefully from Goldson, Lundstram far too slow to receive and is robbed and Aberdeen work it to Ramirez who heads into an empty net. Dreadful. 0-1
16 mins – GOAL! 0-2 Aberdeen and absolutely grim, corner and Brown is unmarked to stoop and head home, Tavernier sleeping and Brown runs off him. Genuinely garbage. 0-2.
20 mins – GOAL! Rangers free kick from Tavernier is headed in by Alfredo, one back. 1-2
Cautions – Ojo and Ferguson, Ferguson for remonstrating after the goal and Ojo for a pull on Bassey.
42 mins – Corner by Tav which Goldson bullets towards goal by a brilliant diving save by Lewis tips it over. He’s been grim for ages but somehow keeps that out.
Half time – 1-2
Half time summary – Utterly woeful from Rangers and miles away from being anywhere near good enough. Midfield is non existent and aside of that performance levels miles away from what they should be. There is zero pace in this team.
First goal we are trying to play out from a goal kick, Lundstram has got caught (incidentally a really rotten 45mins from him) and the second awful marking from a corner.
Aside of that, we are miles away from on it, zero about the performance and we need a massive uplift in the second half. Midfield is non existent and I’m repeating myself but sitting low and playing five yard passes isn’t helping anyone, no presence anywhere.
Zero pace upfront from the team and Rangers need to sort it at half time. This is a long way short of being good enough, needs a huge second half.
Second half action –
60 mins – Lundstram off and Arfield on.
Love to bring you lots of chances and pressure but it’s absolutely turgid, created absolutely nothing so far this half and we don’t look anywhere near likely. Allowing pace to go unchanged on the bench and performance well off.
68 mins – Aberdeen free kick in middle of goal, Ferguson plays in to wall. Wasn’t anything but thought should write something. 1-2.
77 mins – Aribo and Roofe off, Sakala and Wright on.
81 mins – PENALTY! Fashion get the wrong side and Bates tugs him back.
GOAL! Tav brilliantly tucks it away and it’s 2-2!
85-88 mins – Run by Wright and Arfield blocked, corner Rangers. C’mon somebody, give us something! Another corner. Balogun blocked, another corner, Kamara Blocked and corner results in nothing.
Morelos cautioned late as the game fades away.
2-2 Full time
Full time Summary –
Just a wasteful night all round, dreadful first half and managed to at least claw one back but having got that goal, failed to offer a thing after. Second half was full of huff and puff but in truth Rangers offered very little until Sakala and Wright added that pace.
Why it took the manager so long I don’t know.
This team needs freshness as it’s slow and all the pace remains on the bench. Far to slow to react and make changes because it’s favourites first, we have seen this before. Patterson is the outstanding on form and vibrant full back yet is benched, the man ahead of him making mistakes.
Connor Goldson miles away from good enough and floating along making errors every game, his head doesn’t appear in it at all. This isn’t good enough and he’s safe because he won’t ever be dropped or have a challenge.
Yes it’s harsh but the truth is this team is stale and not performing how it should. To set up tonight without pace is absolutely criminal and to allow it to get to 77mins before changing it is even worse.
Not good enough, not even close and Rangers need to seriously buck up their ideas before they are chasing instead of setting the pace.
Something the man, we all said goodbye to this evening, would never accept.