Assessing tonight’s desperately disappointing exit at the hands of Malmo is not as simple as being beaten by the better team.
Rangers certainly flew out of the traps and worked hard for 30 minutes with an energy level that has been painfully absent this season – the goal was a fair reward for that effort and Rangers were in the ascendancy.
But sadly, as has been a repeating pattern in every single competitive match this term, the side switched off at that 30-minute mark.
While we went in at half time still one goal up and even now one man up, the preceding 15 minutes had definitely been duller, lacking the sparkle of the first 30, and while we can’t accuse too many players of having wonderful first halves (Morelos being one of the few to stand out and get some joy), most of them did put graft in.
But it faded as half time approached, and once again the side just didn’t show up for a second half and let the opponent dictate the match.
If there has been one constant criticism of our manager, it’s a failure to have a positive impact at half time with his team talk. Rarely does this Rangers team storm the second half like it might have the first, and the boss struggles even more in adversity.
But Gerrard cannot be blamed alone – yes he has issues with overcoming trials, and his favouritism issues have once again reared their head (let’s not kid on, he’s never liked dropping any favourites), but it’s still the players who go out there and simply didn’t work for that shirt in the majority tonight.
Whether you whine at Balogun’s defending, or Tavernier’s ineffectual crossing, the players stopped working in the second half once again.
And that’s where Malmo sensed blood.
Jon Dahl Tomasson played the same match he did in Sweden – he knew this team simply doesn’t work hard enough after the break, and just like before, he exploited that and diabolical defending.
He well and truly read this Rangers team. We can’t say he definitely outfoxed Gerrard, because all the tactics in the world are useless if the players aren’t working for them.
But he read the players, knew they’d slack.
And took full advantage.
This was a cocky *sshole who delivered on his arrogant promises, and that’s maybe the most sickening of all.
Is Rangers’ season in tatters? Well that’s four matches, three losses. Confidence is absolutely spent and there’s a spot of panic.
We’re not sure where the club goes from here, but if the results don’t start soon, 56 is in real danger.
If it isn’t already.