After another unconvincing and difficult 90 minutes in Steven Gerrard’s fledgling Rangers regime, Ibrox Noise takes you through our customary observations of the good, bad, and downright ugly of what was ultimately safe passage to the second round of the UEL. How many do you share?
1: The last time we did this, we smeared Alfredo Morelos for a variety of negative attributes. Unfortunately, the 22-year old Colombian actually managed to put in a worse shift today and it appears many fans have finally lost patience with him. We were staggered by his incompetence today, and worried by it.
2: Game management, as testified by the manager, was good. Sure, it was effectively the Macedonian equivalent of Clyde (sorry Bully Wee) we were up against, but it was an away leg for an XI who had only three players in their ranks to ever win a European tie (McGregor, Jack and Morelos) so progress was actually welcome and game management for such an inexperienced crew admirable.
3: But it was a bunch of Macedonian sheep herders, and to fail to score or really look especially dangerous went a bit beyond disappointing. Ibrox Noise got castigated last week for our heavy criticism of the corresponding leg – tonight was little evidence that we were wrong, even if the language used last time was a tad more emotional than usual.
4: Allan McGregor is justifying the hype – it’s staggering to say it but he may have been the difference tonight – three outstanding saves, proving what a difference it is when you have a truly top class goalkeeper. A bit sad though when your goalie has to bail you out against opposition of this calibre though.
5: Ovie Ejaria is justifying his manager’s faith and making our utter scepticism of his signing look silly. He looks composed, intelligent, and his through pass for Glenn Middleton was inch perfect. We like him a lot.
6: This Rangers team is nowhere near where we need it to be. While we did scrape through tonight, few are convinced by the product on the pitch, and it doesn’t appear, yet, to be really any much better (if at all) than the last crop we had.
7: Except in defence. If we overlook Tavernier (more on him in a second) we have truly got an excellent back line now. Readers mistook our thoughts last time around as a smear on Goldson – it wasn’t – we were impressed by Katic but thought the partnership itself with his new team mate hadn’t clicked yet. Well, tonight Katic was big and put himself in the hurt again, while Goldson was composed, slick, raked out some outstanding cross-field passes and defended strongly while their combination worked a lot better. That’s something that appears to have gotten fixed.
8: Flanagan again also proved he has to be our first choice whether at LB or RB. The lad is superb. Reads the game immaculately, times his tackles brilliantly – anyone who doubted the signing surely doesn’t now.
9: But yes, Tavernier – he simply isn’t a captain and continues to be insufficient as a defensive force. The problem we feel is he doesn’t look like he commands the players’ respect, and never did, and we still insist it was an error appointing him in the role.
10: Profligacy – other than Windass’ very decent shot well saved, we can’t remember too many attacks which led to a close thing. Morelos is abominable, and we have no one else beyond Windass providing any ammunition. In short, attack feels threadbare, and Gerrard alluded to this himself at full time – a worrying lack of quality up front.
11: Gerrard’s performance was mixed – his XI utterly predictable and still using half the team out of position, but while we were disappointed with his post match assessment last time around, this time we appreciated his honesty where he was modestly satisfied with game management and ultimate progression but bemoaned just how poor the quality on display was.
There is plenty more to digest but that’ll do for now.
What did you guys and gals see that we didn’t?