After all the hope, expectation and good feeling about the positives from Ibrox in the past month, once again today Rangers’ frailties were badly exposed and needless points dropped in the pursuit of 55.
The frustration fans will be feeling right now at such a missed opportunity will be as bad for you reading as it is for us at the site, and while James Tavernier’s inept defending once again cost us, by no means was the captain the only one at fault on a horrible afternoon in which the home side was completely up for it while the visiting side was disturbingly guilty of complacency.
Make no mistake, this was a systemic failure prolific from management to squad, in which very few escape criticism.
And yet, funnily enough we wouldn’t even accuse our players of not trying hard enough – there was definitely no lack of effort and few in a blue shirt genuinely hid.
But from Tavernier and Goldson’s hapless defending, to McGregor’s uncharacteristically poor decision making, to the error-strewn midfield (that did improve) and the meek attack, the players on the pitch just didn’t have the quality on the day to show why they’re champions-elect.
Now, let’s not completely overreact – Celtic also dropped points in the last match day – that’s what led to Rangers being top. So this is not an ailment unique to Rangers only. Celtic have been poor this season, and that’s given Rangers an opportunity we maybe didn’t previously have.
But this was an afternoon we absolutely had to take advantage of, especially given Celtic’s statement on Saturday and the fact we were against second-bottom Hearts, and in no way did our previously-buoyant team produce the performance it was expected to.
We also can’t take any credit away from Hearts – for 40 minutes they were up for the fight and played their best football for months. Ikpeazu was an absolute menace and destroyed our defence, while their own looked completely untested as Rangers just couldn’t string a pass together.
Tavernier especially gave the ball away more times than we could count and didn’t manage a single decent cross on the day. But the whole XI was disjointed – from start to end.
Even though we could say there was some improvement after the break, the fact we were 1-1 and didn’t even come close to a winner gives some idea how toothless this Rangers team was.
Arfield jaded, Morelos frustrated, Ojo ineffective.
This was a real punch to the gut following such a good run after the Old Firm, but this felt like that Old Firm performance again.
Hearts definitely took the match to Rangers, Morelos’ equaliser being against the run of play and Rangers only managed a solitary shot on target the whole 90, giving some idea how little Castro Pereira had to do in the Gorgie sticks.
But Rangers, despite Morelos’ goal, didn’t truly respond – didn’t grab this game, didn’t seize it from a spunky home side and bestride the pitch like colossi who believe they can win the title.
Instead the game died, and faded with a whimper.
This was a sore one – but Celtic will drop more points too this season. Of that you can be sure. But worryingly Rangers’ spell at the summit only lasted two weeks thanks to the international break, and while we do still believe in this club and this regime (it doesn’t all change in 90 minutes) we have to question the same little mistakes which keep costing it now and again.
Wounds to lick, lessons to learn.