After yesterday’s Master’s Lesson in how serial winners turn difficult games around, we as Rangers fans are all hurting.
We all love this team, and know what they collectively gave us last year.
But yesterday was a lesson learnt far too late for most of this team.
If you go back five months, we at Ibrox Noise were screaming at this team to take their early victory in the SPL as a chance to get ready for the Champions League.
We told them it was critical to learn to pass more accurately between the lines under pressure…
We told them they had to combine more as a team…
And we told them to up their intensity…
…they didn’t listen.
The reason why I often seemed so critical was I knew this result was coming.
Just a few days ago I said we were going to lose to Malmo, and crash out of the Champions League, because some in our team were just not ready for what was about to hit them.
Regular readers do not see how much work goes in to reviewing all our opponents for the Champions League and the Europa League.
The work involves not just looking at our opponents, but also the opponents of our opponents, and then comparing the various styles of play to see how their key players are likely to respond to Gerard’s Rangers.
From this I try to detect areas of weaknesses and after comparing the two teams in detail it is a matter of determining the probability that we will win or we will get gubbed.
And my prediction was the gaps developing in our midfield were just too large, and unless we were incredibly lucky, we would not win against Malmo
…and I also said that this current team, with the way they are playing just now, could never beat the Rangers team of 2011.
The fact is Malmo is just an average Champions League team.
From a head to head comparison, Rangers should be a good Champions League team.
We should have won.
But the difference between Malmo and Rangers was their midfield. They were faster, more accurate, and far more intelligent in their forward passing.
The only recent time Rangers has shown the correct level of teamwork was in that game against Real Madrid, when our secondary players were all playing out of their skins to impress Gerrard.
That team would have won yesterday, easily.
… and that is why I feel so gutted today.
A golden chance has just been thrown away, just because some players couldn’t be bothered to get themselves ready five months ago.
Unfortunately, they all found out the hard way, that putting in the hard work does not work when you only decide to start 24 hours before the biggest game in your life.
Hopefully the less has finally been learnt, and they will now begin to play as a team in the league.
Because, if they don’t change, there are going to be a lot more painful nights ahead, and we have no chance to win 56 this season.
And that is a fact.