It’s been a few days since the big game, and it’s time to take a look at what went right and what went wrong.
Well it’s clear, not much went right and a whole lot went wrong; but for once I would not lay the blame on the players who played on Sunday, even though some had really poor games.
This defeat has much to do with the decisions made by the management team.
We have said it before at Ibrox Noise. All good teams have stability.
It does not matter how good you are, if you do not know who you will be playing with, it is hard (read impossible) to play an instinctive pass that breaks down an opponent.
For evidence, you need to only look at the 24th minute.
In a very uncharacteristic mistake, Defoe passed the ball along the box, missing all the teammates around him.
Defoe was simply passing the ball to an empty space where he normally sees a teammate (this usually being Tavernier).
Defoe is left embarrassed and the look on Defoe’s face clearly shows he was not happy.
Given how often the Rangers team has changed this past two weeks, the players really have done their best to keep things moving.
However, all excuses aside, when you play in a Rangers shirt you do have to give absolutely everything, even when things are collapsing around you.
Before we went 1:0 down there were multiple warning bells blaring.
At 23rd minute Goldson is out of position at right back position, for far too long.
Then at 31 minutes and 5 seconds the critical build-up to the goal begins.
At this time both left and right backs chose to advance up the field, and Kamara took over Flanagan’s position at left back, and Ryan Jack moves back to cover Tavernier’s move forward.
At 31 minutes and 18 seconds Rangers now suddenly have only two central defenders covering the entire back line, and at 31 minutes and 20 seconds Katic and Connor are positioned far apart, which is OK when we still have the ball.
Then the problem begins. Goldson receives the ball at 31 minutes and 25 seconds and he starts to advance up field, but the difference from most other times he moves forward is he is now positioned at the right side of the field, and the advance is quickly closed down.
At 31 minutes and 29 seconds he should have hit a long ball up the field or turned around to pass back to McGregor, but instead he decides to advance further and attempt a short pass to Tavernier, and the ball is intercepted and Celtic score.
However, let’s look at this goal again, and this time it can be seen the blame cannot be placed entirely on Goldson.
After Goldson receives the ball, up until the 31 minute and 27 second mark Kamara simply jogs slowly up the field, when a dynamic run across to Goldson would have forced the Celtic players around Goldson and Kamara to react to prevent a perceived attack through the centre.
Tavernier, likewise just stands on the line, and makes no attempt to run inside to give Goldson an easier pass. Again a run by Tavernier would have made it harder for the Celtic players to intercept Goldson’s pass. Both Tavernier and Kamara running at the same time would have created numerous passing chances.
Faced with a very strange, static Rangers team, Goldson chooses to pass through the Celtic team, and when that pass is intercepted, Rangers’ defence is suddenly cut wide open, with only one defender now defending the goal.
Even though Ryan Jack, showing very good positional sense had already noted the problem, and moved back to provide cover, the Celtic attack simply passes the ball between Goldson and Jack.
On the other side of the field, in sharp contrast to Ryan Jack’s quick reading of the game, both Kamara, and Flanagan (who had finally realised Tavernier was also upfield and was slowly tracking back to provide cover) were caught asleep.
Worryingly, neither noted the problem that was slowly building, nor did they show any sudden concern, even after the ball was intercepted.
And this is where I have to criticise Kamara.
After Celtic gain possession, Kamara, still in sleep mode, simply continues his slow jog for five seconds, and it seems he was still blissfully aware of any problem building. Then, only after Celtic slips the ball between Goldson and Jack, does Kamara suddenly start to really run, in a belated attempt to provide support, but it is already far too late to get back to give McGregor any cover.
So, the question is, do we blame the players? Clearly, they made many mistakes.
Usually I would say yes, but this time I’m not sure. As I said, teams need stability.
Every time a player is changed it takes time for those around him to truly understand where exactly he will be at every point in the game.
A second here and a second there gives the opponents a chance to exploit gaps, and with good strikers it really only takes one second to change a game.
Yes, we were not good enough, but this time I will stick my neck out and say the players this time were not to blame.
Even if it makes some players unhappy, and I’m sure it will. It is time to give specific players their jersey, and let them keep it, if they deserve it.