On Tuesday the visiting Livingston subjected Rangers to 90 minutes of borderline UFC at Ibrox, while referee Andrew Dallas did little to stop it. This article exposes some of the absolutely shocking ‘challenges’ which went relatively unpunished, challenges which Livi manager Mark Burchill failed to truly condemn.
Rangers fans had an inkling this kind of treatment was going to become a more frequent occurrence, with the old adage ‘if you can’t beat them, kick living lumps out of them’, and those fears came to pass at St Mirren Stadium when inside the first four minutes this happened:
All of this inside the first 3 minutes 30. But it’s ok, it’s just them being ‘physical’. pic.twitter.com/FGdClczzaD
— Danny (@Danny_RFCACM) October 25, 2015
Thankfully referee Steven McLean booked Goodwin for that kung-fu attack, and that managed to temper the aggression a touch, but the underpinnings of brute force challenges remained.
The Scottish FA have failed to take any retrospective action against Livingston for their 90 minutes of mayhem at Ibrox, and while yesterday did not quite scale those heights of violence (from four minutes onwards anyway) it remains nevertheless a distinct problem that Rangers players are going to be subjected to thuggery on the pitch, challenges which borderline cross the bounds of acceptable conduct.
No fan of any team would ever deny it is a man’s game, and strong challenges are part of that. But tackles which can wound, injure, or downright put a player out for months are beyond the pale – it is a sport, not combat; it is not boxing, nor UFC, nor wrestling – Nathan Oduwa was ‘bruised all over’ after Tuesday according to Mark Warburton, and as such Rangers lost him for this encounter, the English winger failing a late fitness test.
The SFA and SFPL are under serious pressure to show they give a damn about the wellbeing of the footballers under their jurisdiction – red cards cannot be feared, and there is no question referees have to be stricter for Rangers matches.
Rangers are a scalp – we know and accept this, and we know smaller teams will try harder and work more physically to try and get something. But Rangers deserve the respect of not being at risk of serious injury just for the crime of being good.