The inquest into Rangers’ whimpering loss to Celtic at Ibrox today will go on long into the weeks and even months ahead.
Manager Steven Gerrard has had the Midas touch this season, but somehow inexplicable ripped up everything he’s learned in the job over the past season and a half and conspired to bake up an ill-fated Rangers selection for easily the most important Old Firm in a long time.
This match had a LOT riding on it – both sides flying high in the league and both preparing for their Europe League campaigns for the season – and Celtic, down a pair of full backs and missing half their defensive units through injury were there for the taking. There for the exploitation of Rangers’ in-form attack.
But the Rangers Steven Gerrard selected was a bizarre switch in formation, a truly odd midfield selection, a strange deployment of Joe Aribo as a left winger and a misguided choice of dropping Alfredo Morelos.
We put our faith in the manager pre-match – having huge doubts about the presented team and apparent formation. We knew if this worked, he was a genius, and he’d rightly get all the plaudits coming his way.
There was no defending the selection other than the ‘In Gerrard We Trust’ paradigm.
But there is no doubt for everything great the manager has done the past 12 months, this is a huge, HUGE blunder which has massively damaged the trust factor in his decisions.
Now we know if he does something utterly left field, he is not a managerial titan who is guaranteed to make us mortal fools who know nothing about football look like what we are.
No, this showed his risks and gambles are not certain to come off just because he’s the manager and he knows what he’s doing. And that is a huge loss on his part – to have taken such a massive backwards step over the course of 90 minutes.
By no means is this fatal – Steven Gerrard can regain the trust he lost today – getting back to the wins and getting the side firing again – but he must hold his hands up and admit he simply picked the wrong players in the wrong system today and it backfired, rather than wishy-washy hogwash about a team game and he’s merely ‘part of that’.
Buck stops with you Stevie – we at Ibrox Noise have been behind you all season bigging you and your Rangers up – so equally we hold no one else accountable for this disaster.
If you take the praise we’ve given, you’ll have to take the criticism.
This was a big faux pas. And it’s up to you to regain the trust.