Verdict: Rangers’ first defeat this season


Rangers’ start to season 2015/2016 has been nothing short of mesmerising. Flowing, attacking football, an abundance of goals and, until last night, only six conceded shows just the level of impact Mark Warburton has had since taking the reins in Govan.

Naturally, nothing lasts forever, and the new boss finally tasted defeat for the first time at Ibrox when St Johnstone came to Glasgow and put Rangers out of the League Cup.

With that ‘unbeaten’ tag now gone, and that 100% start going likewise, how do we assess last night’s capitulation at the hands of the Saints?

The warning signs had been there since the rather unimpressive win over Livingston; this site had alerted its readers to the curiously flat displays in both that and the trip to Dumbarton, with various theories being posited as to why performance had dipped.

Whatever the cause, it manifested itself rather starkly when a vastly superior side in the form of Tommy Wright’s men visited Ibrox and left with progress to the next round.

So what exactly went wrong for Rangers?

I am no Mark Warburton, nor do I profess to be a keyboard manager like an FM player, so take my comments like you will anyone else’s with a pinch of salt;

The first glaring problem was the omission of the reborn Barrie McKay. Warburton attributed this to giving him a rest, but the flank missed his pace. None of Kenny Miller, Martyn Waghorn or Nathan Oduwa are especially blessed with raw sprint speed, and that told.

The second was something I touched upon even in the win over Raith – guilty of overplaying. Sometimes Rangers seem to want to walk the ball into the net – it is beautiful to watch but up against a defence like Dumbarton or St Johnstone it struggles to have impact. There is no point in zig-zag play against a crowd of 6ft-tall defenders.

The third was naïve tactics; I will likely be slaughtered for this, but it is my contention Warburton’s defensive setup was far too high – two slow central defenders in Wilson and Kiernan were just flat footed and frankly caught repeatedly because Rangers played an incredibly high defensive line (as they have all season in truth) and against a team of St Johnstone’s quality it was suicidal. The backline needed to be a touch deeper to give our CBs time to assess attacks.

Of course, it is all a learning curve, including for Warburton. Lest we forget, he has been a manager for barely two years, and he too will make mistakes. One note of praise is that no matter how bad it got last night, no one hid. There were varying levels of performances all round, but not a single jersey in blue ducked out of responsibility – everyone kept at it till the final whistle and that was good to see.

These players also now know exactly what is required to win in the SPL (assuming promotion) – few who started last night had experience of the SPL beyond Lee Wallace, Kenny Miller & Danny Wilson, and they have probably all forgotten it has been so long.

Last night was a crucial lesson in the development of Mark Warburton’s Rangers. The Magic Hat now knows the SPL next season will require massive improvement all round, and as long as he and the players keep making the progress they are, these learning experiences will be some of the most vital moments under him.

You do learn more in defeat than victory.


  1. Our defence looked very slow and flat footed and why was waghorn on the flanks allnight? Miller was simply awful and should have been subbed at halftime. Have said for weeks we need a big target man, love the game being played on the ground but we need to chop and change our play as teams are getting used to our style and know they can easily compete for high balls but credit to the lads they never gave up and gave it 100% WATP

  2. I totally agree with you ibrox noise on the leaving out of young barrie and also the pitiful display of both centrebacks…I would say that wilson has been found out regarding his lack of pace and this has been on the cards for some time,also he made a big mistake on saturday giving away an unnecessary penalty kick…I really dont like being negative but i have to say also that i did not agree with mr. warburton letting darren mcgregor go, we could have done with his services last night…it must be time for david weir to intensify his coaching of these two defenders because there is no chance of putting anyone else in until the transfer window opens.

  3. Just wonder if all the talk about signing new players in January and 5 new players for next season has affected the team spirit a bit ? The 2 centre backs are too slow and we've lost a few goals to teams just lobbing the ball over them and a fast striker running between them . Also need a good holding midfielder to provide the defence with more cover .

  4. I have noticed that the players are no longer playing one touch football as they did at the start of the season instead they are taking several touches along with less incisive passing as a result of playing against packed defences.The two young players on loan looked as they were way out of their depth.That having said Warburton has brought us hope and I am sure this loss will make him stronger.

    • Aye the two loan players were to blame,nothing to do with Wilson being culpable at two of the goals and Miller playing for the full 90 minutes and contributing hee haw,Jesus wept

  5. we do need a holding midfielder, I hope John Eustace can get his fitness up and running, the Doc remarked on Wilkins playing like a crab just passing the ball sideways, I thought at times last night we played that way,hardly any direct runs into the box, still we must learn

  6. Three mistakes from the two centre backs ,but you have to look at the game it self we had most of the play but the final pass let us down all the time ,the crisp passing has been missing the last three games but I am sure we will get it back on track .WE have to look at 5 or 6 new players Miller Law Shiels have to go .First things first to win this championship .WATP.

  7. Our central defenders have looked to be the weakest link in the team all season and last night they were caught out with balls over the top. Wilson was particularly at fault. Add to this we have little depth in our squad and players like Law are not going to turn around a game when we are two or three goals down. We need a holding midfield player that can protect his defence and allow Halliday to move further forward, we need more depth in defence and we need a quality out and out striker.

  8. Got to agree with a lot IbroxNoise has said. Last night we were missing pace on the flanks.

    My main concerns however are the same as it has been almost since day one….

    1. We NEED an out and out finisher. Waghorn is NOT that. The number of chances he gets and converts is woeful. I like the guy and he is a good forward but he is not a "hitman". The way we play I dont think we need a targetman, but we need an exception finisher. IMHO Tav is a better finisher than Waghorn. Wags also has a bad tendency to lose the ball too much. A lot of moves seem to break down with him.

    2. Our two centre backs are too much the same. Neither of them are quick enough. If you play that far forward you NEED a whippet of a centre back to cover the punt over the top for fast forwards to run onto.

    3. I LOVE the football Warburton is getting us too play, but we dont seem to have a "Plan B". The only plan we seem to have is out and out attacking, flowing football. That is fine and dandy but there comes a time when it doesnt work and need to play a bit tighter at the back. Having just Plan A also allows opposition to work out how to snuff it out (like last night). Like the ever switching of players, if we can ALSO switch to different tactics it helps keeps the opposition off guard and guessing.

    That all said, I think we have ALL forgotten that we are just a couple of months into this. We got carried away after all the crap we have been served up the past few years. Warburton is spot on, we are still getting to know each other, getting to learn the system and are a very young team. IMHO forget about the BIG cups this year, they could prove to be a hinderence rather than a positive thing (injuries / tiredness given our small squad). Concentrate on the league and the small cup.

    In January bring in a couple of players with an eye to the premiership next season and then in Summer bring in 2 or 3 bigger names…. Then bring on the Lynx Brigade. WATP!!!!

  9. We had to get beat at some point. Atleast its not a league game. St Johnstone beat the smelly bastards at porkheid in march. Dont get to worked up about it. Our aim is to go up and lastnights result changes nothing.

  10. let's be honest here. it is the first time we have played against decent team all season and now shows us our true position. we have played great stuff but against part timers with a budget 1% of ours(except hibs who are a basketcase ) . if our current team was in prem we would be 4-7th place in league. some people seemed to think beating alloa meant we were best team in scotland. we are not but improvement is clearly there

  11. As per usual I was sitting in my copland road seat for our league cup tie against st.johnstone last night and I do agree with some of the other posters that barrie mckay should have started instead of kenny miller,the team never stopped trying which is testament to warburton's style and how fit he has the players,the only pass marks on last nights performance imo would be 'the blue cafu' james tavernier & martyn waghorn,in saying that if you take out the defensive errors especially from wilson we held our own I thought,if the 'magic hat' & weir continue to play with a high defensive line we need a midfield cruncher to play in front of our 2 centre halfs to protect them

  12. Like Big Bears comment on one touch is spot on, we have been playing and slower.. The difference between Dumbarton and Saints is that Saints had better players and took advantage of the big punt up the middle. We need to get used to the 8 or 9 man defenses for the rest of the season as that is the only way to contain us. Hibs may be the exception to this. Remember, before you complain too much, both Rangers and Celtic have used 8 man defenses as required in Europe. I cannot believe the continued praise that Oduwa gets. great skills but he achieves nothing and gets in Wallace's space. McKay is a much better option. Look how the right side started to click once McKay came on….

  13. The biggest myth was we were outclassed,possession percentages were Rangers 62% St Johnstone 38% ,Wilson was the glaring weakness and should be replaced by Dominic Ball immediately,it was bad enough Miller starting the match but how he lasted the 90 minutes was beyond me,McKay,Waghorn and Oduwa is the best front three and even if it means Oduwa has to play through the middle to allow Waghorn to play out wide,James Tavernier was the man of the match again by a country mile but I can`t help feeling we missed a great opportunity last night with the wrong team selection.

    • its not a myth ya prick i was there it should have been more this guy better wise up this mob were no fuckin barcalona he seems unable to change a game if its going agaist us he was the same at brentford thats why he got pumped its alright thrashing fuckin alloa who are all part timerers but come on fuckin ally beat this mob and he didnt have a clue needs to work on this defence if we meet fuckin aberdeen they will take six of us

  14. There is a gulf in class between us and premiership teams. We were fortunate against hibs, weak against Dumbarton and conceded 3 last night. Any talk of challenging next season following promotion is premature.

  15. I definately think the centre backs need a kick up the jacksie they were v slow,
    ODU & ZEL were very dissapointing ODU needs to score goals not faff about trying to beat everybody whilst it is very entertaining i would rather have a goal. Hopefully this will give them a shake up & thye can get on with winning the league which is the most important thing

  16. Whatever we do we mustn't right off hibs. Like it or not, they outdid us last season, and by all accounts deserved their win against an inform Aberdeen. They are dangerous and could exploit our defence. They have also been keeping a lot of clean sheets.

  17. Fact, we have not played any team of note including the other night, fact Mr W is a novice, fact we are carried away with beating in most cases poorer than average teams, fact the team we have now will not take us to the top of the SPFL let alone INTO Europe, fact Mr King may hve invested millions to keep us afloat however his promises remain groundless and only kept real by fans spending our hard earned cash on season tickets, I appreciate time will tell, just have an uneasy feeling about worse to come despite all the histeria. As for King, he is back for one thing, to recoup his previously lost investment and will stop at nothing to do it. J

  18. There's too many fans been expecting too much,that result didn't suprise me,the league is no 1 priority,yes the defence is garbage,the midfield is lightweight and we have no punch up front,I know mark warburton prefers small squads,I think the squad is quite thin,personally I think we r 3 injurys away from a crisis,mark Warburton has done a fantastic job but I still think we need more quality

  19. We got beat from a better team,they and most of the SPL will beat us home and away,we got a good team but that is it,we need plenty money put in on buying players or we will never get in the top six,look at hearts and they beat us easy,now we just got a good team but so have many others,there are around 10 better teams than ours.

  20. One bad result and it's a crisis,if we loose our next 4 games then that's a crisis,con let's face it,we have been playing a lot of part time teams,we do need better players in the next tear that's fact,forget these cups,league is priority

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