Wednesday, 25 March 2015

McCall's masterclass at Easter Road

Going into Sunday’s visit to Easter Road, hopes for a point, never mind three, were minimal at best.

New manager Stuart McCall had struggled in his first two matches to instill his ideas upon the squad, with the rot of the previous regimes plainly still engulfing the players.

Young Tom Walsh had had a promising emergence into the first team, but him aside, there was not a lot to cheer about, and add that team selection on Sunday morning and fans were downbeat to say the least.

When the teamsheet was revealed, everyone was appalled, yours truly included. Yet more McCulloch, with the added unpredictability of Mohsni, while the invisible man that was Nicky Law continued in midfield and Kenny Miller joyously partnered Nicky Clark.

The first reaction of most was “5-3-2?!”. The fact five defenders were being fielded made supporters reach for the cyanide and wave their white flags, again, yours truly included.

However, my one iota of hope was it was the 3-5-2 I had predicted it was, with three men-mountains at the back, two hard-working wing backs, three midfielders and two strikers.

It was.

And 90 minutes later this switch in formation and tactic may just have been a master stroke by McCall.

The players were hungry, methodical, tactically aware, and constantly pressing. Kenny Miller gave some insight into McCall’s approach:

"The manager was very, very clear in his instructions to everybody on the pitch. They knew what their job was and they knew what their direct opposition was. I thought the lads followed it to the letter and to the man it was a fantastic performance. We’ve looked at other things in training too and it’s a fresh set of eyes on things. As I said he was really clear in his instructions to every player on the field. The manager was very clear in what his (Wallace) defensive duties were and everyone to a man followed those instructions to the letter."

But the urgency to attack with care was abundantly clear. If we look at this:

It is clear (left) that after the ball breaks from Rangers’ left flank, every player aggressively joins in with the counter (right), with the will to fight for the ball and get involved.

Add that to suffocating defence which completely stopped Hibs playing, and McCall blatantly outfoxed Stubbs. Many opposing supporters argue Hibs played below par. They are absolutely right. And why? Because McCall’s brilliant tactics stopped them.

In midfield especially, as the game wore on, Allan, their fulcrum, barely touched the ball, as everyone in the middle pressed in, including Wallace and McGregor inside from out on the flanks.

This formation absolutely works, as long as the players continue to show that appetite. Getting the 3-5-2 does not always work properly, the correct players are required – but McCall may just have nailed it first time here.

Dare I say it, I even give McCulloch credit as he played a lot better alongside two partners than he has for years alongside one.

Keep it up Mr McCall, you may just earn yourself that three-year deal you have mentioned.


  1. Yes, it was a good, must win result. However, it is only one game, so lets not get carried away. Consistency is the key here and need to give that level of urgency in every single game. Do that, then we have a chance. It really annoys me how players are coming out thinking they have been vindicated due to the win, Kenny Miller shouting from the rooftops that its a two fingers to the critics,,, No Kenny,, you were all dire and you all still owe the fans this promotion, its the least you could do as the team have been dire whilst getting paid a fortune, so wind your neck in and do your talking on the park. Same to you Cammy Bell,, you have been out for months and you tell the fans to back the team,, Have you had a brain fart Cammy, its the fans who have been hurting the most in all this,,so you give us something to shout about, and you will get that support,,they really should ban the players from the press!!

  2. I think he should have given until xmas that would have given him a chance train them from start of pre season and have the players he wants

  3. Not having 'Masterclass'. It's a minimum that a manager at this level sets out a shape to nullify the opposition whilst allowing his team to exert their strengths. Especially with better players and at a club like Rangers.

    Manager: Satisfactory

    It's also a minimum that players give 100% effort and follow the managers plan and instruction.

    Players: satisfactory

    Granted it's not been happening of late but that's in the past. Sundays performance wasn't brilliant and I for one won't be measuring their performances against the levels set in the recent past.

    Overall: improved. Better keep it up or they'll all be on the broo come June.

  4. well done it shows us all the fight is still there,,now lets keep it going,,, watp


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