So, we’ve looking over the… not ‘post-mortem’ of yesterday’s ‘collapse’ but the disappointment in being unable to see this one out.
The parable that strikes the mind was in 2007, with Rangers in Barry Ferguson’s day. Believe it was Lyon we faced, and it was at the Stade Gerland.
Rangers were 0-3 up having had a stunning away display, but Lyon were pressing – and the final five minutes saw excellent game management from Ferguson in particular, in wasting out time.
Now, the old noodle isn’t hyper reliable, and it may not have been this fixture, but we do have vivid recollections of excellent game management in the latter stages of a Euro match in Barry’s time where our heavy hitters wound the clock down late on to secure the priceless win.
Last night showed this Rangers team, despite having an experienced campaigner like 32-year old Scotty Arfield, are still a little naïve at that level and that Rangers as a club under Stevie still have a few bits and pieces to learn against such elite opponents.
It happened last season too – Bayer Leverkusen were not that great in either leg, but the second one especially saw Rangers naïve and respecting them way too much.
Last night saw a bad and inexperienced collapse, and failure to manage a game out against quality opposition.
Look at Benfica – they bring on £125M man Darwin Nunez and he ended up easily sliding between our defenders and putting it in the back of the net.
That’s the class we faced, and while we ‘deserved’ the win, our game management simply wasn’t good enough.
Which is not to say we’re not good at it. Look at how we went through to the group stage two years ago with 9 men – managing out a single goal.
But Benfica are no FC UFA, and Rangers were unable to step up that level of class and game management to the same degree.
It’s a learning experience – the only way to learn is through mistakes, and the players just didn’t get it right in the final 20 minutes of this one.
It’s a learning curve for the manager too, he’s still young and picking it up.
This season has been remarkable, but this was a little lesson in elite game management, and we now know we’ve maybe got a thing or two to add to our repertoire.
But hey, we’re still top of the group…