Yesterday’s match at Pittodrie was the big litmus test of recent months for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. An excellent 2019, which, incidentally, only has one loss recorded so far, had seen recent form escalate to unseen levels if measured only in the past seven or so years.
However it was evident its big barometer was how it would cope yesterday at a feisty Pittodrie, with a real step up from your Dundees and 10-man Killies.
And in blunt honest truth, the side to hit so much form in recent weeks hit a real bum note yesterday -and it’s in part due to the players’ failing to hit the heights of late, and also due to Steven Gerrard’s selection of Borna Barisic, not to mention failure to change things beyond Ryan Kent’s flank.
We have certainly noticed that, in the majority, Gerrard struggles when the chips are down – he struggles to make changes which manifest in turnabouts. Sometimes he does – Defoe’s introduction at Pittodrie a few weeks ago helped seal the deal in the league.
But in this one, Gerrard was a bit impotent.
As were the players – from the first whistle, Aberdeen wanted it more, and Morelos decided to pick this match to play his petulant and whiny self – and was rightly booked for a pretty embarrassing dive. Perhaps he saw the disgusting banner, yes, and it was absolutely f****** ugly even by the vile standards these days of Scottish football, but equally he’s a professional with a job to do and his head and heart were not in it from the start.
As for Barisic, we’re by no means scapegoating him at all – he was anonymous as per – he’s the wrong player in the wrong team in the wrong league and we’d be happy to see the back of him come the summer, but it’s not his fault Stevie signed him and it’s not his fault Stevie picked him in error yesterday. Halliday should have started, and that’s absolute.
But yes, the whole team, a few players aside (McGregor, Worrall, Candeias) had pretty weak and uninspired games – and if the players don’t produce on the pitch on a grand occasion like a cup quarter at Pittodrie, it’s a bit worrying.
It’s worrying for Stevie to see his players fail to show on such an important match – we can accept losing to a better team, or drawing with one who fights equally to us – but Aberdeen pretty much outdid us physically and should have scored a couple through sheer pressure – the only feasible away goal opportunities were on counters and sadly Stevie’s men were lacking incision up front.
It was an all round bummer, let’s be frank. Stevie didn’t quite deliver and neither did the players.
This, we can view, as a bad day at the office and a cost-free opportunity to get a stinker out of the system – after all, we get a second bite at the cherry and we’d anticipate a much better performance.
Stevie and Rangers used a real get out of jail card yesterday – but then that’s what they’re there for.