Sunday, 27 September 2015

Verdict: Rangers' return to winning ways


With a well-publicised ‘over-reaction’, as labelled accurately by manager Mark Warburton, following the disappointing League Cup exit to Premiership outfit St Johnstone, there appeared an unwritten demand that his side travel to Cappielow and absolutely destroy Morton in order to ‘prove’ that the glossy displays which dominated the first nine matches (slightly less in the following two) were not a thing of the past.

Indeed, even this site must hold its hands up to a slightly unfair response to the match in some respects – but stands by the notion that as poor as the result was, it was a learning experience, and a very good one in that context.

Consequently the side was off to face a side Rangers had not encountered competitively in some 15 years, and delightfully Barrie McKay had been restored to the lineup in the only change, the young winger taking veteran Kenny Miller’s place up front.

And the truth is Rangers absolutely strolled the match – that change along with a fully fit Jason Holt and rather rampant Nathan Oduwa (not to mention a breeze of a display from playmaker Gedion Zelalem) helped Rangers flow with gusto, with attack after attack (21 shots, 11 on target) and a complete domination of the ball (67%).

Yes, defence was exposed on occasion, with quite a few useful lobbed balls finding the Morton wing, but none of these attacks came to anything and defenders Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson looked much more confident than they did on Tuesday.

A major reason for this was the comfort of the midfield, aided so well by a fully-fit Jason Holt whose unsung work takes an extraordinary amount of pressure off the back due to his efficient use of the ball and regular linkups. He was not fully fit on Tuesday and that definitely hurt the team.

But one criticism has to be Andy Halliday – now, before I continue, I am not slaughtering him or unfairly singling him out. Halliday has been a great signing and a truly tireless worker – but he is not a defensive midfielder and it is starting to show, more and more. A major reason the defence gets caught out, on top of the high line, is Halliday’s lack of intuitive positional sense in that slot – in short, he struggles to protect those he is sitting in front of. He has pace, and can cut out sharp attacks, but for the bread and butter breaking up of play, he struggles to anticipate and block out midfield attacks.

But then, he is not a DM and he is doing the best he can in an unnatural position.

Otherwise Morton really had little foothold in this game, and the few gilt-edge chances they managed were well-saved by the increasingly impressive Wes Foderingham.

Rangers travelled to a solid midtable Championship side and won at a stroll – they should have scored many more, and it was a fine response to a bad night at Tuesday’s office. Yes, it got a little scrappy in the second half, and the dip in the display during that period was not really improved by either substitutions of Shiels or Miller, but it mattered not.

Waghorn got his first hat-trick for Rangers, including two open-play goals, and Rangers ran out comfortable winners.

Warburton’s men made a statement today that the Championship is theirs to lose – and with their challengers slipping up around them, that is more true than ever.

4 comments:

  1. Your point about Halliday is well made and that poses the question as to how we resolve the problem you highlight and ensure he plays in his most productive position which I believe is as an attacking left midfielder.

    Eustace would be an ideal player as a defensive midfielder but there seems to a continuing problem re his fitness.

    We still give away too many scoring opportunities to the opposition as was evidenced today so I would say that is a problem still to be resolved.

    Well done Waghorn who will reach at least 30 goals this season.

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  2. Yep cannon fodder. Expect more of the same for the rest of the season.

    However if Warbs thinks that his current tactics are the answer when the opposition has the ability to hit back then he's in for a rude awakening.

    Criticism of his tactics and the performance against St Johnstone is fully justified.......does he think he and the team are immune?

    Our budget dwarfs the rest of the division put together, we should be hammering these teams week in, weekout.

    Thanks to Ally, Warbs is looking a million dollars routing Championship teams, many of whom are part time, a feat that the impostor was unable to achieve.

    If we exit the Scottish Cup to a mid table SPFL team he can expect a lot more criticism than he's obviously used to.

    Battering the small teams is the least we expect and long may it continue but an early exit from the Scottish Cup will not be acceptable.

    Ps. Where's our Chairman's investment....we need £12m minimum to get to the end of the season, not counting the outstanding loans.


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  3. We were all wondering how the Gers would respond after the defeat in midweek. Is the glass half full or half empty? Turns out Warbs was right on with his comments, the sky is not falling.
    Let's not forget this team is on a learning curve, so hopefully every Gers fan is smiling again.
    From the kickoff they played some great football. The important thing, as Warbs said, is to learn the lessons from a defeat. Looks like they have tightened up at the back, but that is still a work in progress. How does Tavernier start a counter attack deep in the Gers half, and pops up to finish it in their penalty box?! Amazing.

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