Rangers today face Hearts in a crunch semi-final which could finally see Steven Gerrard’s Rangers reach its first significant cup final since the Scouser’s appointment last year.
Last season, of course, was a total disaster in the domestic cups, and everyone connected with Ibrox will be doing everything possible to ensure that isn’t repeated.
And it starts today with Hapless Hearts under the guidance of interim coach Austin McPhee at Hampden. Given their form this season it’s staggering to think they are one match away from the final as well, rooted as they are to the bottom of the table, give or take.
However, regular readers to Ibrox Noise may have noticed something changed on the site over the past month or two. Eagle-eyed punters may have noticed in the past 4-8 weeks we’ve put out next-to-no predicted teams, having formerly done them regularly.
There’s a reason for this.
Up till around middle/late September, Steven Gerrard’s team selections were obnoxiously predictable. While we rarely got all XI right every week, predicting the team was frankly easy, and usually at least 10 of the selections were correct.
6 weeks or so ago, Stevie got wise to this. He got wise to just how predictable his lineups were, and how right our predictions often were – and guess what – he’s dramatically shaken things up and guessing the XI, and even the formation, is much harder now.
Will Scott Arfield be in attack or midfield? Will it be Helander or Katic? Will Barker, Kent or Ojo start? Will Aribo be central midfield or more advanced? Or benched?
In simple terms, he’s completely ripped up the predictability of the early portion of the season – it was so obvious exactly what changes he was going to make between domestic affairs at the weekend and cup stuff in midweek and while the team does have a settled sort of look about it, that look changes enough now to be unpredictable without completely upsetting the balance.
The only slip up lately was Hearts – and that’s who we face today. Gerrard’s setup has been working recently, and hopefully once again come 17:00 we’re celebrating our first notable final in a very long time.