What does one loss mean for Rangers?

28

Going into yesterday’s match at Easter Road, while the record books said 11 wins from 11 and there was plenty of evidence in the preceding weeks of unity and togetherness within the players, there is no denying form had struggled a little bit.

Opposition, starting to close ranks and shut up shop, dedicated themselves to stopping Rangers – borderline illegally, but undeniably astutely.

The early season scorelines of 6, 5, 4 and even 3 had become a serious rarity, and while the flowing football was not completely gone, it had struggled to be as influential, effective, and creative as it previously had been.

Possession stats had been consistently good, but a spark just seemed to have been removed, and 1-0 and 2-1 scorelines, previously non-existent, punctuated recent victories.

This in itself is no crime. No team (an on-form Barcelona aside) is going to bestride like a colossus and win by cricket scores every match. And winning is everything.

The problem is such lavish victories epitomised Warburton’s style and his Rangers, and with them becoming the exception, teams, sadly, are not fearing Rangers quite in the way they did. Instead of expecting to lose they park the bus and try to nick something. And believe that they can.

Naturally, they had failed – but the mentality of opponents has undeniably changed and it has forced Rangers to struggle more.

When Rangers went to face Hibs yesterday, it was the home side arguably in the better form. They had momentum, and in truth the Magic Hat knew it and went with a bold selection of three (a recalled Wilson, Ball and Kiernan) at the back (despite a little porkie pre-match that it was a four), Halliday in front of them, Tavernier and Wallace flanking wingbacks and a dynamic front four of Holt who sat behind Clark, as McKay and Waghorn flanked. A sort of 3-4-3 which adjusted to 3-1-2-1-2-1. Almost.

It was certainly a hard formation to decipher, and in truth, while Rangers had a fair bit of the ball, as always, they went nowhere with it and only a loose ball which fell to Tavernier troubled Oxley all first half.

The second half saw a fortuitous deflection off ex-Ranger Darren McGregor give Rangers a deserved equaliser (on the count of possession and dominance anyway) and Warbs’ men, buoyed by this, upped their game and started to look very dangerous indeed.

But on 55 minutes the Magic Hat made an arguable mistake. If he had been at fault with the original team selection, he half fixed it and half compounded it – he removed the hopeless Clark (who should never have started anyway) and replaced with Oduwa (who should have), and removed the incredibly poor Danny Wilson but shifted on Zelalem.

One might think this was spot on – sadly, though, Zelalem was awful again. He has come back from the international break a shadow of the player he left as, and gave the ball away repeatedly while slowing the game down too much; one can only hope he regains that previous form soon.

In more positive midfield news, Holt was absolutely stellar – he stepped up big time and produced a mammoth display – his quiet effectiveness was even more obvious yesterday and it is arguable he is one of Rangers’ best players. And Halliday was also a little more robust – the former Bradford man had been slightly quiet recently but worked even harder and ran his heart out to stop as much as he could in the middle.

Waghorn up front was Rangers’ best attacker – a brute of a man, he was forcing the play, and had no lack of skill. But McKay and Clark were weak links in this one, and produced very little.

But the point re: Warburton’s error – with Rangers gaining momentum and starting to pepper Hibs’ goal with shot after shot and chance after chance, why change the formation? The introduction of Zelalem weakened Rangers considerably and derailed a lot of the good post-half time work that was building.

If the formation started out wrong, it became ‘right’ as players grew into it and just as it was getting somewhere it was changed.

In the end, a goalkeeping error from a corner saw Hibs steal the three points, while an invisible wall at their end stopped them conceding.

Rangers’ luck just was not in on this one.

So, what did this result and performance mean for Rangers? This time last year the notion of being 5 points clear with 11 wins from 12 would have been dreamland – so let us not be spoiled into crying over one loss.

Warburton has been astonishing since he has been at Ibrox, and the feelgood factor is surely back. But the warning is there now. Warbs has kept promising every week that Rangers would get better – but there is evidence this is not happening. And now teams around the Ibrox men know Rangers have vulnerabilities, especially in defence.

Complacency is Rangers’ biggest enemy, and in a perverse way, losing this one was the the wake up call Rangers needed. Too much profligacy, too much ‘tiki-tika’ and trying to walk the ball into the net and not enough killer instinct in recent weeks.

Warbs’ will know this, and will work hard on getting more out of the squad which may just have been believing the hype (as we all did) too much.

There are three quarters of the season to go – Rangers need to bounce back on Saturday against Alloa and show their mettle.

We still believe in the team, the vision, the manager, the direction – one loss changes nothing.

But it is food for thought and that knowledge must be used wisely.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I seen the writing on the wall weeks ago,they have to win every game now to Xmas, I do think they need a player or 2 in,a bit of freshness

  2. Bit negative in my view. 11 out of 12 is an excellent performance. Let's stay behind the team and not drop into negativity. Zelalem is a young player who everyone in the know rates.lets give him a chance and not have him rushing for the first flight back to London. Continue to believe as the Magic Hat and DW will get us back where we belong.

  3. Excellent article. I agree almost entirely with your comments however I believe there is cause for concern. As far as I can see we have had 3 real tests in the last few months being St Johnstone,St Mirren (away) and Hibs. We were really poor against St Mirren and lucky to come away with the 3 points and obviously we have lost the other 2 matches.Warburton has had next to no criticism thus far but yesterday, if we had won, was as far as I am concerned the end of any meaningful challenge and Warbs must take the bulk of the criticism.

    It will be interesting to see how Magic Hat deals with the aftermath from yesterdays match. For me all the one touch nice passing is just that 'Nice' but we lack a real cutting edge. Lots of possession is to be commended but without a consistent end product its just possession.

    Panic buttons at the ready?

    • why is it a defeat is a good result for us pumped by st johnstone they tell us its just what we needed pumped by hibs its awake up call come it seems when we play a full time team we get beat its time we spent some of the 20 million war chest get a keeper and a centre half and get rid of these loan players its ok showboating against joiners and plumbers but these guys come up short when it comes to the big games

  4. Wilson was poor in first half but he had not played for three weeks & I don't think he should be made scapegoat for this defeat, the magic hat was definitely taken off when Mr Warburton took off Wilson & changed the formation, I have been a critic of Jason Holt but the formation we started with was perfect for him & he was man of the match by country mile, now one defeat is hardly end of the world so what do we need for January transfer window a big fuckin arsed centre forward who can hold the ball up & then we will pump anybody playing the same formation as yesterday but if we had been clinical yesterday we would have pumped they pricks

  5. There is no need to panic but frankly we have been stagnant in the last few games with a real lack of firepower up front. Waghorn alone cannot be expected to carry on the striking role without support. I also hope the manager can demonstrate flexibility in his approach to deal with packed defences as there seems to be a reluctance to shoot from distance.While possession football is good winning is better.

  6. Whilst there is no reason to panic yet it has been obvious for the last few games that we have been struggling to break down packed defences. I hope in January we bring in an out and striker as I think it is unrealistic to expect Waghorn to be our only realistic strike option

  7. Totally agree with your assessment Nicky Clark ,another one of McCoists signings is out of his depth at Ibrox.and would surely have been released with all the other duds, shown the door if his contract had been up. Danny Wilson was badly at fault for HIBS first goal raising the question why do we ever bring back former players? WATP GREENOCK TEDDYBEAR since the 1960s.

    • listen you moron wilson gave up the chance to go to celtic for double the money playing in europe and winning cup and league titles man city were also looking at him i think you should be looking ellsware to pin the blame lets face it the keeper is a bombscare every other week and the managers tactics have to be looked at again

    • aye and so were barcalona and man united and the reason he didn;t go to celtic is efe fuckin ambrose would have kept him out of the team wake up ya boaby

  8. Warb said he had no plan b just make plan a better not with this team get 3 players in January and start building for next season striker is a must and a quality centre back

  9. Just seen confirmation that we have cancelled the home game against Dumbarton and moved it to Tuesday 1st December.

    Is this a joke, Dumbarton ffs.

    Not a single player who started against Hibs is missing due to call ups, and a couple of those who have been are lucky to make the bench.

    Indefensible decision no matter how much spin you put on it.

    Also gives Hibs the chance to close the gap to 2 points.

    It's Dumbarton, not Real Madrid, plus it's going to take thousands off the gate and dost the club badly needed income.

    McCoist was slaughtered for the same thing but at least it was some of his starting line up that was missing.

    Absolutely crazy decision .

  10. I must say personally I feel as if this performance was head and shoulders above the last hibs game we won 1-0 .I thought that day we could have lost 4-0 with the chances hibs created. I am happy to see Warbs changing things and trying new tactics because we have been predictable of late. This game would have taught the backroom staff a great deal and we did play really well. All in all unlucky not to get at least a point and things could be worse. WATP

  11. Hope warburton has learned Wilson a liability we looked more solid and organised without him last 3 games have showin that. Oduwa is like playing with a man down he's scared of any player getin close to him he wants ride of ball as soon as he gets it not the fearless skill full creative player he was in first half a dozen games. zalalem slowed the game to snails pace wen we need goals and Nicky Clark has just nt got it to be a gers player.

  12. Anon 11.51

    I know people coming over the water who have paid for travel and accomodation…………not for a minute did they anticipate the game being rescheduled.
    It's absolute nonsense, would be entirely different if we were missing 3 or 4 starters, but not one of those being called up started against Hibs on Sunday.
    Never mind squad harmony being affected if 5 or 6 players are brought in during the January window, what does it do to the morale of the current squad who are not getting a regular game when Warburton can't trust them to do a job on Dumbarton?

    Have to agree, it's a nonsense and indefensible, chance for Hibs to get within 2 points and a loss on income that we can ill afford……..Dumbarton ffs, Falkirk have just given them a doing on their own midden!

    If this is future policy on international week ends we could find ourself chasing Hibs…..can't believe that the board have sanctioned this…it's insane.

  13. I wud say this say as the more games go by the only positive I'm getin from this group of players is they can keep procession awday long butthat won't win us the league. We need more presence in the team we re a bit light weight especially in midfield, need to have more shots on goal from outside the box instead of tryin to walk the ball in. Be more clinical wen chances do fall our way. Wud say 4 players r needed in January cple of striker 1 a least of a big frame, defensive mid with presence and push Halliday up more and another right is needed back cos in my opinion tavenire wud b beta stayin up as a winger cos he's not much of a defender anyway think he wud score even more goals and create a lot more goals.

  14. I think if the ref gives us a stonewall penalty in first 3 mins it's a dif game dif result cos hibs wud have to attack more n b left open at the back, unbelievable decision once again how many times do u hear smaller clubs moanin we don't get big decisions against rangers etc well that twice in a cple of was refs have bottled it to give big decisions early on in games that cud have changed the whole games outcome. Also how fyvie Neva walk for his over the top off the ground late 2 footed studs show challenge Al Neva kno. I ask myself this question is there a certain breed out ther thatare tryin to make it as hard as possible for us to get promotion? Wat is ther mind set wen it comes to certain big decisions???

  15. I see a lack of guts and fighting spirit in McKay and Zelalem. Yes they are young. But other teams have 18 year olds with a lot more bottle than these two. Warburton might just be expecting too much from them. Rangers need more "character" as Big Jock Wallace would call it.

  16. Let's get real here. Rangers blew this game. By attacking Hibs so much when they didn't have to allowed Hibs to sit back and use the space behind Rangers to counter attack.
    Had Rangers sat back, then Hibs would have been forced to throw bodies forward as they needed to win the game. If they had done that then Rangers would have had the space and they'd have ripped Hibs apart.
    After the equaliser Hibs couldn't commit to defence in depth. They had to try and break out in reasonable numbers and Rangers were running them ragged.
    I thought that was a mistake by Rangers at the time. They should have backed off and ripped Hibs when they had to commit.
    The corner that led to the winner came from a foul that never was. Rangers missed gilt edged opportunities and should have had two stonewall penalties.

    Rangers players were mad after the game. So they should be and not just at another bottler referee who thinks that penalties shouldn't be given in the first couple of minutes for some reason.
    Rangers have had a lot of penalties this season and deservedly so. It tends to happen when you attack flat out and spend a lot of time in desperate opponents penalty box.
    No Rangers were mad, mostly, at themselves for not putting Hibs away when they had them on toast. Fair enough, but for me the real mistake was the tactics. MW gets a lot of praise for the way Rangers play and rightly so. However, it seems that it is a crime almost for Rangers supporters to disagree with anything that MW does. That's not right.
    He picked the right team, if he intended to sit in and hit Hibs on the break. But Rangers still attacked from the offset against a team that had to win the game.
    Hibs can't live with Rangers in an attacking dual that's a given. However, they like to sit back against Rangers and can make it very difficult to score. Rangers had two opportunities to sit back and lure them out. At the beginning and after the equaliser. They blew it both times. MW must learn from set backs as well as the players.
    If he does, Rangers will murder Hibs at Ibrox if Hibs go there needing to win.

    They might do that anyway if they attack and score first. Why though would you give Hibs a chance by playing in a manner that lets them off the hook?

  17. Man City were looking at Wilson…….come on mate, what are you on?

    The Tims looked at him then did walking away, that's pure p*sh saying he turned down double the salary to join us………..stop getting your info from the Daily Radar, remember that up to last week they were on the Level 5 payroll!

  18. Hibs want to sit back when they play Rangers, make it difficult for us to score and hit us on the break. They know they'll get murdered if they try and attack Rangers throughout. So they don't.
    We saw at Ibrox how we struggled to score while they had players who could get up quickly into the spaces we leave at the back when we are battering away up front. Hibs had the chances to win that game and would have if they'd taken them.
    THAT WAS THE WAKE UP CALL GAME.
    Rangers did not heed that warning. They approached this game with the exact same attitude as the Ibrox clash and this time we got gubbed,
    That comment above is right. We picked the right team for sitting back a bit, but chose to attack regardless. Hibs must be wondering why Rangers played in the exact style that Hibs would have wanted them to play. Probably thought Christmas came early.
    They had to win the game. They must have been dreading having to throw players forward and getting the tables turned on them from the Ibrox game. Rangers had the players to tear them apart with quick counters. McKay and the full backs would have had the space denied them all day. Apart from the spell between the equaliser and Hibs second.
    Even during that spell Rangers pressed too much. They were still offering Hibs lots of space to get into when the broke in numbers. That's what allowed them to get forward, steal a free kick, and score from the subsequent corner.
    If Rangers had played the usual back four, with Ball and Halliday sitting deeper just in front of them, with Holt playing a little further up, Hibs would have had to throw players forward, big time, to try and break through.
    Should have been Oduwa (though I'd prefer Walsh if fit, he's more direct) Waghorn and McKay, using the empty space left by Hibs, to kill them off.
    MW got this wrong. There's no getting away from that. I like the guy and appreciate what he's doing for the club, but this was an error in tactics here.

  19. Ibrox noise you said in your original article that jason holt was stellar against hibs and I agree with you wholeheartedly,I've repeatedly said on here that jason holt is a tremendous midfielder who's work goes unnoticed at times,he is superb technically and is the midfield link man from midfield to the front three,wee holty as I've said time and time again remembers me so much of rangers legend alex(doddie) mcdonald

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