Wednesday, 8 April 2015

How Stuart McCall beat Hearts


It was all going so well. 43 minutes on the clock and Rangers were two excellent goals to the good against Hearts, rampant Hearts who had strolled to the Championship title with plenty left in the tank.

It had been a professional display from Rangers, with plenty of possession, a few chances, and two clinically taken strikes to impose their superiority over their visitors.

The 4-4-2 manager Stuart McCall had chosen, with Vuckic on the right and Shiels on the left while Murdoch and Law operated in the centre, supporting Clark and Miller up front, was working smoothly indeed – so much so that Miller had scored the opener and Clark was being a constant nuisance.

Unfortunately, captain Lee McCulloch’s ridiculous red card threatened to undermine everything and undo McCall’s masterplan for the game. But if there is a ‘best’ time to lose a man, it is right on half time which gives the manager a few minutes to consider what to change.

And if McCall needed a test of his managerial credibility, this event was it.

He opted to not only sacrifice Haris Vuckic, which in itself was the correct call due to his predilection for attack, lack of defending and general absence of pace, but he put on Bilel Mohsni and completely altered the formation.

Instead of switching to a 4-4-1, he went outside the box and switched to a 3-5-1. This move won Rangers the match.

The first big change was going three at the back – Mohsni and McGregor flanking Zaliukas. The back three which shut Hibs out completely at Easter Road. This stopped an aerial bombardment as all three of them are aerial colossus – Mohsni especially soaked up everything.

The next big change put Nicky Law out of his comfort zone:

"It was great to be named as man of the match, but you could have probably picked seven or eight man of the matches, maybe even more. For me to get it is fantastic. I did end playing out on the right and I hope the manager doesn't get any ideas, I don't want to be playing at right back to often this season! It's not my natural game, but he asked me to take the ball and get up the pitch and waste some time when I can. I felt that I did that when I had the opportunity and I enjoyed it."

And it paid off – with Law as right wing back and Wallace on the opposite side, it left Shiels, a withdrawn Miller and Murdoch central and able to compress the space around them much more easily – with harder pressing and support from both Law and Wallace, while Clark provided an always-available outlet, McCall’s wily switch to a 3-5-1 enabled his team to work hard as a unit, compress Hearts’ midfield, and soak up pressure more efficiently.

And Law’s stellar display at RWB was magnificent, earning him MOTM and thoroughly justified.

This kind of Plan B, C, and D all rolled into one is why Stuart McCall has been an absolute revelation at Ibrox, a privilege for fans who have not had the pleasure of a proper manager since early summer 2011.

As we know, McCall’s alterations won the match for Rangers, despite a late Hearts goal threatening to spoil the party. It could and should have been 3-1 if Clark had had awareness from Law’s cutback. Unfortunately he rushed his shot and Alexander easily picked up the tame effort.

But this is immaterial. Rangers have a real manager at long, long last, one who has the players playing for him.

These players want to play in the SPL for Rangers under Stuart McCall. They might just achieve that.

9 comments:

  1. An absolute revelation for Rangers, I will keep that in mind when you start slagging him off after we have a few bad results.

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  2. well said! A revelation indeed. Really does expose what a gulf there is between real tactical nous and simply having the title "manager".
    With Stuart McCall (and sensible board decisions of course) I could honestly see us mounting a challenge to Septic within a couple of seasons...

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  3. Listen, we have won 3 games!!!,, We are not out of the woods yet. The blame for us not winning the league lies with McCoist and McDowall, who have destroyed our team for the past 3 years through their immaturity and inexperience. Walter Smith recommended them, I've never rated him either as a manager. There is a lot of football still to be played. Fans need to keep their feet on the ground and stop coming out with stupid statements that we are going up,,, this is not guaranteed. One game at a time!,, McCall should know this and not get carried away. Keep the Rangers players away from the press as they make stupid comments about how the opposition are no match to Rangers!!, aye right!!... McCulloch should just f**k off,, he is,,always has been a liability,, an expensive one at that. Just stay away Lee. McCoist and McDowall are still getting paid!! Why??!!,, the old board are not there,,so why are you 2 still fleecing the club,, but kiss the Rangers badge at the same time!!! PARASITES the both of you!! and what is Murray and King doing or saying about that?!!!,,nothing!!,, Old Pals Act!!!,,,, McCall has brought a bit of structure to the team,, but then, wouldn't be hard because McCoist and McDowall were just a disgrace,,, all other fans may get dragged into euphoria of whats happening just now,, but i for one will reserve judgement till the season is finished,, my heart and sole want out beloved team back to the top league,, and i will support Stuart with everything i have,,, but its going to be hard in the next few weeks,, we as fans should not get carried away,, just keep the head,, players to give everything theyve got,, take one game at a time,, dont make stupid predictions to the press,,, and we will see where we are at the end of the season,,, but one thing is certain,, McCoist is still getting paid thousands of pounds while we struggle through the most important few weeks of our history,,, dont ever call yourself a Rangers man again Ally,,, your scum like the rest of the old board, no different!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Goodness knows what it would take to put a smile on your face. We're playing good football with a manager, at last, who knows what he's doing. No one's getting carried away but what's wrong with being happy with the way things are going? Lighten up and enjoy it.

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  4. Why should ally hand back money when the rats walk away with their pockets full , wee mc'coist went through some shit 4 the first 2 years. He also had 2 deal with telling long serving employees they would no longer be employed. Give the guy a bit of credit he was also a victim of the regimes.

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  5. McCoist is due his money feck anycunt who doesn't want him to have it he'll always be a legend no matter how many time yous knobs try to blacken his name he's never had a rite go at it

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  6. What a rant Anonymous 18:38 ! Lost any credibility with the statement "Walter Smith- I`ve never rated him as a manager , 9 in a row , twice rebuilt the club when in the depths (with Souness after Wallaces second spell and after Le Guen ).Yes he was obviously wrong about McCoists abilities as a manager , but Ferguson recommended Moyes so does that make him a failure as a manager too ... no it doesn`t.McDowell has left the club so don`t know where that comes from and McCoist, the player , will always be a legend .As for original article, Law played left midfield with Shiels in the centre , though you are right the tactical switches after McCulloch was sent off was what won the game for us .Well done we Stuey.

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    1. Because someone disagrees about smith doesn't mean it's a loss of credibility. As much as I recognise smith as a legend I'm still torn as I never rated him as a manager either.

      Played ayers out of position and never gave youth a chance. Was ultra defensive also. He did have talent available that was beyond the reach of other Scottish clubs for most of his time.

      Dignity and respect are a given but not a progressive thinker.

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  7. The last three games we have won, ok, now look at those three games..? What do I see..? I see a team that is finally taking in what the manager is telling them, rewind, when we were drawing/losing you could see that rangers had more or less given up, when Stuart came in, ok, we had the draws, but you could see a bit of differa ce in each game, the heads were up, they were trying, trying hard, but daft stupid mistakes in defence was making things impossible upfront,..lets move on a game or two, what do I see, I see, I now see a team that are actually fighting for a place to play....now the three wins on the trot..wow.! Some may say but look at each game carefully and how the players are starting to interact with each other..? The game against hearts was a pleasure to watch, to the team playing together and not for themselves, McCulloch could have lost us that, but we didn't, we held on and took away a nice 3points from champions hearts, their 2nd defeat of the season....what I am seeing in the last four games, if you watch is a rangers team getting stronger under McCall's regime, the win against hearts n hibs are probably the most important wins this season, and I hope I am right, that in saying the last few games you have seen a team bonding on the pitch...time will tell though, but I think with Stuart at the healm we have an even better chance of going up, a lot of rangers fans saying another year in the championship will do us no harm, well sorry, but I would like to see us go up, back where we belong and at the very least fighting for a top 6 position and I think under Stuart n co we can do this.....

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