It Has to Start on Sunday

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With all the recent nonsense
surrounding the unwanted return of Craig Whyte to the glare of the media,
coupled with the stale and perennially disappointing international break, it
was with relief that normal service was resumed at Ibrox and the visit of Queens Park.
Billed as the ‘original Glasgow
derby’, this was an encounter with the residents of Hampden, who possess the
possible distinction of being one of the only non top-flight teams in any
country to have a stadium over 50k capacity. Even more impressive is the fact
it is not just a non top-flight, but it is the fourth tier. Naturally, this
season, that is a distinction they share with their Glasgow rivals Rangers.
Worrying away form aside,
league-wise at least Rangers have been pretty dominant in Govan, rattling out
near-cricket scores with the lowest margin of victory prior to the Spiders’
visit being 3 goals. With it being a derby there was potential for added spice,
and manager Ally McCoist put out a strong team – even sterling youngster Barrie
McKay was benched in favour of opting for a 4-3-3 formation which featured
Hutton, MacLeod and Black in the engine room while Shiels, Aird and Lee
McCulloch provided the attacking line.
Despite the result, 2-0, it was
increasing evidence that the unconvincing away form (or downright dire away
form as some may view it) may just be starting to manifest itself at home. The
performance was grotty, turgid, slow, and completely lacking in conviction.
Once again the defence was at sixes and sevens with itself, and it seems no
matter what choice of personnel McCoist chooses for the backline, the lack of
understanding makes for many hair-raising moments, including at least one
notable mistake which saw Alexander bailing his defenders out big time.
Previously the glut of strikes at
home masked the fragile curtain at the back – even when it was Broadfoot, Goian
and Bocanegra the frailty in that area was alarming; but the likes of the
on-fire Andy Little were able to cover it up. With McCulloch grabbing 2 goals
last weekend, the same pattern of papering over the problems was in full flow,
but the lack of an extensive scoreline was worrying.
The side travels to Broadwood on
Sunday, and with the current perilous state of the away form, it is anyone’s
guess as to what will transpire at Clyde. That
catastrophic loss to Stirling Albion was so purgatorial that Charles Green was
moved to give his manager a ‘vote of confidence’ – never good news. So the
pressure is most definitely on McCoist to produce that elusive first away win of
the season. Clyde are third-bottom of the table, but then Albion
were rooted to the foot of it so quality of opponent does not seem to correlate
to the displays.
Let us not get hysterical here;
Rangers are top of the league; with
a sparkling goal difference thanks to those huge scores at Ibrox, but that goal
difference is the reason the Ibrox side are elevated to this level. The points
tally with closest rivals Elgin
City is even, with both
on 15, and Peterhead are not far behind on 14. But 15 points for an SPL-quality
side after 8 matches? That is 9 dropped points at a level as low as this.
McCoist is under real pressure to
deliver something at Clyde – the team
desperately needs a good performance and result. It does not have to be a
massive win, but as long as the side is well-organised, plays well, and is
reasonably solid at the back there will be a better sense of feeling among fans.
All 4 of these elements have
lacked away from home. Let us hope Sunday is the start of a vast improvement.