Rangers last night were given a huge dose of reality, following the second disappointing 1-1 draw in a row.
While Steven Gerrard’s men used a colossal get out of jail card against Aberdeen given it was a cup clash with replay security, there was no such insurance last night as Rangers’ recent profligacy in front of goal was punished with a near-certain exit from any lingering title challenge.
We alluded to the change of manager at Parkhead pointing at a possible change and potential comeback for Rangers, but it was dependent regardless on us picking up the crucial points when they truly mattered.
Rangers have recent gone on a heck of a run – up till the Aberdeen match it was 5 clean sheets in a row, and 14 goals in the three matches.
Unfortunately the display at Pittodrie has exposed the shortcomings of this nevertheless in progress Rangers squad, and while that one had a fall back crutch of a replay and the ease of chalking it down to a bad day at the office, last night’s did not have either of these to save us.
While quite a portion of Rangers’ play was pretty decent, with some good linking up in midfield, Kamara being at the centre of much of it, and some penetrative flank play from Candeias and Kent, the killer edge, so frequently an issue this season, came back with a bang as a tonne of gilt-edge chances were squandered.
Somehow Hibs have the measure of Rangers – sure, they’ve not beaten us this season, but for the life of us we just can’t score against them. And that wastefulness up front, while not costing the title, certainly cost us a decent fist at mounting a credible challenge for it.
We’ll cover more match reaction today, and the implications in various forms, but it’s worth remembering this too; we at the site posited a decent second-place finish as being our target – a good distance ahead of Aberdeen, and an acceptable distance behind Celtic. That very much remains on, and would still have to go down as an improvement on recent seasons.
Unfortunately, the flip side is this regime is not one we can trust – not yet. It remains in progress, and the players continue to (mostly) work hard, but we’re nowhere near the stage of expectation.
This is not to say we have none – we will always expect Rangers to win. But that’s the heart talking. The head knows this Rangers are not yet into that upper echelon of what we should reasonably anticipate from our side under normal circumstances.
For the time being, we must expect rotten results like Killie, Aberdeen and Hibs to continue to punctuate the good ones.
As we improve, they should be thinned out more and more. But that may take a heck of a lot longer than one season.