It was only one game…


I felt moved to respond to a great number of tweets, FaceBook comments and comments on this site which make strong criticism of my last piece, under the guise of it only being one game.

The gentleman named ‘Donald’, for example, with a pretty valid comment below:

“FFS one game in and the players and management who gave us all such hope and belief last year are condemned, the seasons as good as over and we’re all doomed. Get a grip, your making yourself look silly again. Remember the Dave King fiasco.”

He makes more than a salient point; on it is all about opinions, as it is with every other fan site.

On this site we give a platform every view – and if a reader comment slates an article and diametrically opposes every sinew in it, we like to be fair and give that comment air time. We can handle views which do not agree with us.

And Donald, like more than a few others, suggests over reaction from us and many other fans and sites. And we respect his view.

However, yesterday’s disheartening performance was the latest in a long line of failures against teams of a better calibre than Alloa under Mark Warburton, and while the Dundee result had pointed to those failures finally being addressed, the fact Rangers have not won a single league match since April 5th and Warburton’s record against ‘better’ teams is patchy at best should surely be worrying to all concerned.

In short, it is not just one game, it is a collection, and it is a huge elephant in the Mark Warburton room for anyone willing to look at it.

Against the better teams, Warbs’ Rangers have only managed seven wins in 90 minutes of 15 matches. Less than half. That is four home wins v Falkirk and Hibernian, the scrappy win at Rugby Park, the decent win at Fir Park and the admittedly stunning triumph over Dundee.

Since losing to St Johnstone last September, Rangers have drawn or lost in the remaining eight encounters with Killie, Falkirk, Hibs, aforementioned Saints, Hamilton and Celtic.

The problem is, that patchy at best form against teams of this calibre is precisely the form that will directly affect how Rangers fare against them in their natural habitat of the SPL.

The psychological impact of such middling performances and results cannot be underestimated, nor can the length of time it has been since Rangers triumphed in the league.

Some fans have been extremely angry with any criticism of the team and the management; the aforementioned ‘only one game and you are writing us off’ argument being used time and time again.

First off, no one is writing Rangers off – there is a full season ahead and plenty of time for Warburton to make the adjustments along with the team.

The point I and many are making, though, is that those adjustments are utterly critical in order to be successful. Tighter defence, cutting edge in attack, creative midfield, and a plan B if things go wrong, not to mention willingness to use in form players in a starting XI – these are things which need to be done, and which simply do not exist at present.

That is why we pay Warbs and his squad the big bucks, to plan the adjustments and execute them on the field.

Yesterday showed absolutely no sign that such an adjustment had been made, and that is the concern.

Rangers’ away record under Warbs against the better sides is disappointing at best – just two wins from six (Hibs, Falkirk, Killie and Motherwell), and that critically needs to improve come Dens Park.

I hope to sit here come full time with an idiotic grin on my face of how wrong I was to doubt the team, and to lavishly praise Warbs for his team selection and tactical approach.

But I always reserve the right to criticise, as do all of us – blind faith will not take Rangers forward, only progress and introspection will.


  1. I agree with the majority of your points and there is a real worry that Mark may be found wanting in a tactical sense.

    The manager, players and chairman have all been talking about winning the league, knocking Celtic off the top, getting into Europe when we should probably be trying to compete with the better teams in the league to get a foothold. A much more realistic target would be Hearts/Aberdeen. A good season for me would be to finish above one of them.

    King does not leave me with a happy glowing feeling, see comments below, he is never precise, always vague….
    "This year is about being back in the Premiership and making an increased investment in the squad, which we have done very substantially to make sure we competed this year.
    –Doesn't sound like he will put his hand in his pocket for a couple more quality players…

    "The objective is to compete for the title this year and then next year to hopefully be back in Europe.
    — Surely all team in the premiership are competing. Another nothing statement…If you compete well you should be in Europe.

    "We will then scale up the investment again so that we are also competitive at the European level.
    –No further investment until we get in Europe?

    "I think this team is capable of winning the league. Obviously the resources Celtic have got in their squad are far greater than Rangers but they have resources intended to compete in Europe.
    –Now we are not just competing but winning the league, no pressure and not on the evidence yesterday against the so called weakest team with 10 injuries. Celtic squad comment for Europe, what does that mean? The same players can play in the league. What about 'overspending' Dave to catch up with Celtic?

    "We are not at that level yet but having said that I do think we can challenge Celtic this season."
    –Back to challenging Celtic even though he admits Celtic have a better squad and we are not at their level..Is it just me?

    We cannot kid ourselves on we get a couple of championship boys in, an ex International, couple of younger guys and think we have a group of world beaters. It will be our downfall. Quality usually costs, we may be lucky with some free transfers but money normally talks. We need 2-3 quality players, a bad season of injuries will see us compete for a top 6 spot, cheque book out Dave or make way for someone who is willing.

  2. I was working yesterday so gave up my SB to a mate. He says we are far short for the top league but are we going to make any further squad investment? Unless we have some real talent coming thru the ranks I fear we are way short to compete well in this league.

    We need to buy some quality 2 or 3 players.

  3. We lost regular season games to hibs and Falkirk who we beat to the title easily yer allowed to lose it happens, we outplayed celtic to their shock!!! and the St johnston game was so early in the season it was a step up too soon. Warburton who is getting the blame here had been in the door with a new squad 2 months or something.

    Rangers have been playing part time squads last season the lack of experience playing "better" sides will drag on anyone which is also evident from celtics performances the past 4 years. Rangers have been in the hole of Scottish footballs lOwer leagues for and anyone who has ever kicked a ball knows playing dross every week will drag you to that level.

    Rangers will adjust because we've all seen the level of performance achievable. Playing celtic off the park was evident that something is there and its a capable squad. But let's turn on the manager 1 game into the new season instead.

    Its a fickle sport but I think we need to give the team a few weeks or months before jumping to conclusions, they were denied a competitive preseason and are only shaking off the rust now. Look at the stats of yesterday all we lacked was another goal. We domin ates the game again.

  4. The team is only going to get better and with another 1 or 2 additions to the squad – we'll be fine. Its another pre season, where the squad has undergone huge changes – so no need for knee jerk reactions. The management team have done an unbelievable job from the first minute they walked through the door. An exciting squad was assembled last year costing practically pennies. The same has been done this year – the squad looks much stronger than last years, and again, this has been done very astutely. I for one, have faith in the management team. They are working their socks off to deliver success and get us back to the top of scottish football and into the champions league. They are one year into a 3 – 4 year project. Look at the big picture and dont focus on being short-sighted.

  5. It's time your fans opened their eyes…the manager is a one trick pony,and that pony is being held back by Dave king who refuses to spend any money on players..until you's rid yourselves of king your club will remain a mid table outfit…don't expect this to be published as most of your fans don't like the truth

    • Dunno what team you support but clearly you are more worried about where rangers are than anyone else in the league.

      "No one likes us we don't care"

      No seriously we don't…

    • Celtic can lose to Red Imps,Rangers drew against Hamilton,same thing.. rustiness, our pre season was ruined by the league cup, one decent friendly against Burnley and one competitive game against Motherwell. Hamilton are a trench warfare team, used to battling out draws against better teams. I see no problem here. MW is not a one trick pony.He is a man doing what he can in an inadequate cup and league system. About time Scottish football woke up and sorted itself out. Euro qualification is all I hope Rangers achieve this season . I have no expectation of a title with .

  6. How unfit did we look today, is this because of lack of preseason quality opposition? The players and manager have all been talking up the team but where is the evidence, how can you compare until you compete with equals and not just in a one off game? Those comments will make us look foolish unless it can be properly backed up.

    We need 9 pts from Dundee, Motherwell and Killie before we play the mhanks. With Wasgs potentially out again we need to rely on Dodoo, give the boy a chance. Miller is getting poorer with every season and will struggle to get us 10 league goals this season.

  7. I have sympathy for both sides of this discussion…it is only the first league game of the season BUT the facts don't lie, we struggle against well organised opposition. Yesterday was a perfect example, did the Hamilton goalkeeper make a decent save in the 90 mins ? Lets not blame the defence, the problem is in he attacking third. We are blunt, never direct, one more pass, one more touch….the 'Arsenal' of Scotland. One quick forward pass by Forrester and we scored…he did what Kranjcar was signed to do. Allow McKay, Forrester and O'Halloran to express themselves and we may see more cutting edge.

  8. I love Rangers! But my hope is not in them, my hope alone is in Jesus the saviour of souls, who changes life's for the better. Have a good day my rangers family. Amen.

  9. I was treated to a fabulous spectacle last night as Liverpool demolished a far too attacking Barcelona team 4 – 0 at Wembley. It was a comprehensive beating for the Spanish champions, who were only concentrating on attacking and trying to score goals. They kept getting picked off by Liverpool's sharp attacking forwards, who hit them on the break time after time. I wonder if Barcelona will think twice about their defending now? Here is my point:- Rangers will NOT win this league by playing 4-3-3 all season, especially away at Celtic Park, Pittodrie or Tynecastle. Mark Warburton MUST change his naive formation this season or pay the consequences. John Hartson said yesterday before the Hamilton game, that Rangers in his opinion, will finish fourth this year, he could well be right!

    • Richard, this is my fear exactly. And we have virtually no back 4 cover! I hope we are far off the mark (no pun intended). At least we have to give Warbs the benefit of the doubt, and let him play his 4-3-3. If he succeeds, then we'll all be happy. The alternative is not a pleasant thought.

  10. Totally agree my friend and there will be many de-criers but the truth is that Warbs seems stuck on what he knows (and believes), with no variation in style or shape, despite all of these bad results that we have watched week in and week out. He repeats constantly, 'We're in a good place', well I go every week and have no coaching badges true, or indeed any footballing qualifications whatsoever, but I'm sorry Mark that's not how I (and many who sit around me) feel. Having faith is the right thing, of that there is no doubt, but there needs to be signs of encouragement. As you alluded to in your excellent piece, for a long time now these signs have been off the park more than on it. I don't pretend to know all the answers, that's why the guy is paid to do the job but sticking to the same set up and the same approach to the game when it's obvious even 'smaller sides' have sussed it and can provide an uncomfortable afternoon for us tells it's own story. Blind faith does not make you a supporter in itself and as is referred to in your piece I would also be delighted to be wrong, but I cannot see how sticking with this predictable, non-incisive attack and haphazard, disorganised defence approach, will achieve anything like the hopes and aspirations of a club 'Going for 55'.

  11. Good points …. I harp back to MW's interview last season when he stated "we will not change our style of play" … that one dimensional sentence told me that will struggle against better teams when the 9 square and back passes do not bore them to open up. Any manager watching us last season could predict our every move and if you had a disciplined defence…could counter us at will. By the look of things yesterday that isn't going to change soon, so like many others, yes its only one game in, it is concerning there is no Plan B to get us out of a muddle.

    I hope we can demonstrate the ability to win such games and play teams at their own games at times, that's what good teams and managers do, find opponents weaknesses and play on them, master of that was Alex Fergusson, even to the point of getting into the head of the manager….we seem incapable of forcing teams to think and change tactics as we only do one thing, keep ball and probe with little passes in and around the box, good defenders can defend that easily and with our style of attack, clever teams will counter us a lot, even lowly Hamilton troubled us a number of times.

    As for our defence, well Kiernan & Hill says it all for me…..individually they are poor, together they are a disaster waiting to happen at any given moment, we will be found lacking at the back again and again unless we can attract at least one solid central defender.

    Long way to go but teams like to show off their 'new players& revolutionary' style and come quickly out of the blocks, I saw none of that yesterday which is why so many are worried I think.


  12. Chin up boys long season ahead King and Warbs will see us thru… Don't kid yourself, King has money and he will know when it's time to use it.

  13. Mark,it was only one game but you will not get away with four or five draw and get beat more times than you win against celtic and get beat 3/4 other games only time will tell Mark maybe you and king can gloss it over today but get it sorted today as there will be games coming up if you get beat in them then your head will be called for?i hope we do well a wake up call i hope it was get it sorted.

  14. Guys Celtic fan here coming in peace. You have had a massive turnover in players this summer, some who are not up to fitness, others have joined your preseason late. Like ourselves under a new manager it will take time to get up to speed fully. Early season games are a great leveler also. As such no need for anyone on either side to over react to setbacks at this stage, save that for as couple of months down the line if things have not improved but I'm sure they will all round. Good luck (but obviously not too much).

    • Well said mate. Far too many fickle fans who are clueless. Our team will improve no doubt, as will Celtics. Hope its an exciting season for all fans.

  15. I hope the team doesn't see this nonsense, fans turning into nay sayers after 1 game. Haven't even got a settled 11 yet and we're calling the manager out as the wrong man for the job…sad is the only word I can think of. Grown men letting their emotions get to them, chill out enjoy the matches to come what happened is a bump in the road! I see a good side capable of winning this league, and shocking Scottish football! Technically better than any team in this league!

  16. So lets start with a quote or two from you just a few days ago,
    "Here we are now, a completely new squad, every last remnant of the diabolical lower league roster gone bar Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller (Barrie McKay barely counts such was his bit-partery), and in its place a hungry young side, with fast-flowing attacking football and a vision for the future steered by one of the most intelligent managers Scottish football has ever been blessed with in Mark Warburton".

    And then when acknowledging the huge changes in the squad in both quality and numbers (and this is important remembering we have 9 new admissions in the squad) "And the change in personnel…! From one year ago and Kyle Hutton and Ian Black in midfield to Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar. This upgrade goes beyond impalpable and straight up to staggering". Staggering no less, your words not mine although in this case I agree.

    I think we would all agree that we need a quality central defender and another striker but you’ve assessed the manager and the team as going from heroes to zeros in just 4 days and one game of football. This makes no sense at all. You can’t judge this team on last seasons performances but if you have to then we won 1 cup and got to the final of another embarrassing Celtic on the way, and most importantly we won promotion and did it in some style. Warburton and the team deserve better than being condemned by their own fans for a poor finish to last season and one mediocre performance in this one.

  17. FFS everyone needs to take a Val and chill, we will get a CH & CF there on the case now, everyone knows the defence is pish so I think M&D also know all to well!!
    Hodson Crooks New CH Wallace will change everything.
    Tavie challenging M O'H for a place up front also boosts our forward line.
    Ps. celtic 0 Hamilton 1 enough said!!!

  18. Did Hamilton Accies not beat Celtic at the piggery last season ,and they are the current champions with the biggest playing budget by a mile .Shit happens .Better Rangers teams than this one have suffered shock defeats in the first part of the season and still won the league .Lets see what we have got when the window shuts.

Comments are closed.