How “Plan B” saved Rangers


Rangers have toiled at times this season. Against Falkirk, Houston’s well-drilled outfit made Mark Warburton’s men dig deep, and in the end 3-1 might have flattered the home side a tad. It was even worse at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium in Dumbarton – a wall of men simply would not let Rangers past, and Rangers had to grind out the result. Admittedly the away side had managed a 2-0 lead before a penalty denied Foderingham the shut-out, but the principle is valid.

Yesterday, though, was the first time Rangers have just been rank poor for the entire match. While a number of players did achieve pass marks (the excellent Holt, Ball, and McKay stood out), the overall machine was entirely lacking its WD40 and it must be conceded Rangers were thoroughly powderpuff for the majority.

Guilty time and time again of trying to walk the ball in the net, their opponents did a smash and grab when a rare (borderline first) Queens attack led to the opening goal on 35 minutes, some weak defending being punished by Derek Lyle.

Eventually Holt’s interchange with Tavernier saw Rangers equalise, but that was one of the few convincing moments by the home side, bogged down by their own refusal to resort to a different tactic.

And this is where a criticism and praise of Warburton has to emerge – Rangers doggedly stuck to the gameplan for 90 minutes, the plan A – unfortunately it just did not work. Queens were too well-organised, too drilled to allow Rangers any space in the opposition box. This is a criticism – Warbs did make changes, but not to the gameplan. Rangers remained impotent in attack. His refusal to employ a plan B was nearly Rangers’ downfall.

And here is where the praise came in – by the last 5 minutes Warbs changed his mind – realising his team was about to come unstuck in the league, he did change his plan. Route 1 became the approach, and it is why Rangers won this match in the dying minutes with their first header.

Oduwa just threw in a hopeful ball and Waghorn soaked it up, snatching all three points for the home side.

Rangers, let us be honest, were as close to ‘terrible’ as they have been all season. The stats are filled with home possession (68%) but the incision up front was poor and despite nevertheless managing a very decent 8 shots on target, the inclination to pass the ball to death in the final third nearly cost Rangers two points.

That stubbornness is a criticism of Warbs – he loves his quality football and we love him for that, but there are occasions when it will not work against a wall of 10 men who are determined to park the bus.

This is why he equally deserves praise for yesterday – for adapting to the match, and changing to route 1 by the end, he showed willing to win ugly, to do what it took to get the three points.

Rangers do have a Plan B, for emergencies, and yesterday showed it can work. But there are a few signs in recent matches that Plan A will not always work against teams determined to sit behind the ball.

“The best Plan B is to do Plan A better”, Warburton famously once said.

Yesterday showed that is not always the case.


  1. Do you expect us to be brilliant in every game? And Of course warburton has the nouse to change things about when required, the constant is the ball will remain on the deck. The cross for the goal was hardly thrown in?? A measured cross to the front post it looked like to me, We might not have been great yesterday but dominated the ball and found a way to win, that's all that matters.

  2. Route 1 means something different to me – the hopeful punt up the park and I did not see this once at Ibrox yesterday. What I did see was a great piece of vision from Oduwa, often derided for not having an end product, to pick out Waghorn at the front post. I saw Wallace telling the players at 80 mins in to keep calm – he knew that at this stage in the match Rangers still had what it takes to win it with Plan A. I also saw an excellent display from Robbie Thomson in the Queens goal to deny Waghorn twice.

    • I agree with both the above comments 100%.First of all Rangers deserved to win,QOS slowed the game down so much to get the draw,their keeper kept them in it with several excellent saves.
      Holt was excellent and scored a superb goal.I also thought the cross from Oduwa was a superb bit of skill and in no way did Rangers resort to so called route 1 even with time running out.Can I ask what people think of Miller and Clark,as I don't see what they bring to the table,no goal threat and poor link up play.What about Walsh and Hardie,give them a chance to see what they can do as I am struggling to see a player in especially Clark,time to punt maybe? Also thought Law was excellent when he came on ,creating some decent chances.

  3. That's far too harsh. "Rank poor for the entire match." Where did you get that from? So when we don't score 4 or 5 goals we're rotten? It was a hard fought game against one of our main rivals, where we played some good football, enjoyed the vast majority of possession and made several decent chances against a very well organised team. I agree that we tend to try to walk the ball into the net too often, but the football we're playing, even during our "poorer" performances is still streets ahead of any other team. Last year we'd have been raving about a performance like that, but now it seems that a hard-fought, well-deserved win isn't enough anymore and if we're not hammering teams then we're "close to 'terrible.'" There's just no pleasing some people.

  4. Created plenty of chances to win yesterday we can't win every game by 5 or 6 sometimes we will win ugly mark of champions keep the faith watp

  5. Admittedly, I only saw the second half but at no point did I think Rangers were 'rank poor' – perhaps below par (which for us is exceptionally high). Also, just because we scored with a header does not mean that we suddenly changed tactics. I did see some evidence of long-ball and head-height rather than ball-to-feet play in the last twenty. But the corner that led to the goal was taken short, as is our preference. There was a bit of variation towards the end but Warburton's game plan was not abandoned. Rangers stuck to it. They're real crime was profligacy in front of goal which I'd put down to pressure. Robbie Thomson also had an exceptional game. Plan B is still to get better at Plan A. Progress is often measured in a series of plateaus rather than in a continuous straight line so we must be patient – labelling the performance as 'rank poor' is unfair.

  6. The win was really important. We can't allow Hibs even a sniff of a hope of pegging our lead back. it was as close as we'll get to dropping points without actually doing so. Well done Rangers. I love it when teams sit back the whole game using spoiling tactics then get gubbed at the death. Justice done, in my book.

    by the way I've seen a few vids on the latest trialist at Ibrox,Gai Assulin. This kid was tipped as the new Messi when he was in the Barcelona youth set-up. No wonder he was really impressive in the vids. reading between the lines he might have had a serious injury that has curtailed his career. Don't know for sure if that's the case but something must have happened because as a teenager he really looked different class.
    If he is anywhere near injury free then I hope Rangers snap him up. He could be an absolute sensation at Ibrox. Check out the clips, on youtube, when he was a kid. Here's one here.

  7. Close to terrible? terrible is what we endured under mccoist and co we would not have came back from being behind if he had still been the manager People are becoming too picky lets make the most of what Warburton has brought to our club and enjoy it we dont want high balls blootered into the opposition half thats dark age football

  8. I cant believe the critics, celtic have barely won their games awl season, scrapping by teams just and some how r still raved about, yet rangers are playing some of the best football in europe right now ball on the deck flowing attack after attack, yeah we may not be super clinical in front of goal bt its a joy to watch and some how we still get criticised, qos made it hard by sitting bk, hardley going to score a barrel load with 11 men behind the ball and also had a keeper in terrific form did you all see the saves he made??? Time to get real here folks, get off the critics bus and back on the supporters bus, WATP

  9. With regard to Clark, I found it embarrassing how fans heralded him last season almost like he was the new McCoist. Really he is not good enough for us, lacks a decent first touch and misses more gilt edged chances than he puts away. Makes up for this by giving 110pc every time he plays. If anything he is trying too hard and it is just not happening for him.

  10. For all the praise Warburton has received he should be capable of taking some constructive criticism.The failure to deal with opposition corner kicks being one area of concern.Firstly ,we had the St Johnstone strike from the edge of the box with no one picking up,then on the next home outing against Falkirk,a carbon copy goal.
    Secondly,that's 3 goals v QoS we've lost of similar ilk.Granted 2 were in play offs under Stuart McCall, but lessons aren't being learned and Lyle must be creaming his pants when his team gets a corner.
    Lastly, our centre back pairing of Kiernan and Wilson,again a work in progress but these two are so far apart at times a sheep dog should be rounding them up.3 times at least this season that I can recall ,the ball over the top between them has seen them scrambling to get back to no avail. A real defensive midfielder will plug this gap and bring much needed security for the centre backs. Eustace ? Hopefully, given the time he has been recuperating.
    So to sum up,Warburton deserves lavish praise for the work and camaraderie in the team and I won't criticise him for toiling against a team camped in,but lessons have to be learned defensively for progress to be made.

Comments are closed.