As Ibrox Noise’s Derek discussed earlier, and this is a topic the site has meant to cover in more detail but there’s just been so much going on down Govan way, fitting it in has been tricky.
It’s the issue of the flat-footed post-winter break Rangers have suffered two years in a row, compared with Celtic’s fleet-footed demolitions of the likes of Killie on their patch.
Last year, very very vocally indeed Steven Gerrard decried the Cowdenbeath postponement as the reason Rangers returned from the break and fell flat – the loss to Killie (bearing in mind, as above, Celtic won on the same patch this year) was subjected to that call off as the exclusive reason, and nothing else.
Indeed, Stevie preached this strongly prior to Stranraer, but following two under par displays in a row, those reasons have gone very quiet indeed.
We were full of zesty optimism after the stellar December and the win over Celtic in particular, and in the grand scheme of things we’d take turgid stale 1-0 wins for the rest of the season, but the problem is Rangers have struggled in these matches.
We hear a lot of Walter Smith comparisons, saying that the Grand Master’s Rangers did much the same thing, played poorly but ground out the win – and there’s merit in that – Smith was the master of winning.
But the slight difference was the pure effectiveness of Walter’s teams – there was a winning mentality instilled in every player, which came from having done so before – this is new ground for Stevie’s players bar McGregor and Davis, and although Morelos, Jack et al have won things before, doing it in the blue shirt is a completely different prospect.
Walter’s teams were bred from the ground up to win, they knew how to, but Stevie’s group hasn’t got there yet purely on the logic of lack of experience as a group.
So we get back to why this is happening – why are Stevie’s Rangers so poor in January, two years in a row?
Mercifully, it’s not cost us anything, we’ve got the progression and 3 points, and we hopefully move on.
But Gerrard admitted the poor return to action last winter led to a very bad run, and we sincerely hope this is just that, a blip this time rather than a long spell of poor play and results.
Why this happens, we’ll cover in the next entry or two…