Ibrox noise provided some brutally honest player (and manager) ratings last night, off the back of what was undoubtedly one of our most disappointing performances in recent memory. Whilst just about every position could be looked at, debated, and a case made for a replacement for the return leg, the one glaringly obvious mistake from last night was the exclusion of our number 1.
Make no mistake, there were very few supporters who had a good word to say about McGregor’s new deal, with an overwhelming majority saying they’d prefer to have McLaughlin between the posts. We wonder, just how many of those people have maintained that opinion after the opening 2 games of the season?
Sure, credit where it’s due, McLaughlin made a very decent save at 2-0 to effectively keep the tie alive, but it’s the type of save that McGregor would also have made. You then have to look at the 2 goals we did lose. Whilst we can’t expect a save from the penalty spot (which by the way was NEVER a penalty), if you can find me a fan who felt more confident of a save from McLaughlin from 12 yards, than they would have with McGregor, I’ll be very surprised. Granted, Allan didn’t get near any of the 5 in Seville, but his record from the spot speaks for itself. We’re thinking back to the likes of Samaras, Edouard and even as recently as last season at home to Red Star.
The aforementioned was just a small example of the significant contribution McGregor made to our European campaign last year. Time and time again, he comes up with big saves and sure, he’s not quite in the prime of his career now, he makes the odd mistake, but without a doubt he’s still a European class goalkeeper and is more than a cut above the other goalkeeping options at the club.
We won’t dwell too much on the mistake from Casper McLaughlin for the opener, we jest that it went right through him as if he were a ghost. What we will say, is that if it were McGregor who’d made it, he’d be “done”, “over the hill”, “finished” with calls for him to be replaced immediately.
It’s only fair therefore, to consider a similar reaction in relation to McLaughlin. Don’t get me wrong, we like the guy and don’t begrudge him a chance, having stuck by us for the last few years, waiting patiently in the wings for his opportunity.
You could look at that game last night though and aside from some of the other poor performers, hypothetically replace McLaughlin with McGregor and be looking at a 0-0 or narrow 1-0 defeat. We’ll never know for sure, but let’s make our assumptions based purely on the magic McGregor has produced for us last season in Europe and the season before where he was instrumental in our 55 efforts…SPFL Player of the year 2020/21. This season? Well that first half against Harry Kane and co would suggest he’s still up to the task.
A final point would be to look at the absolute shambles of what McLaughlin has in front of him yesterday. On one hand, you could say – “what chance did he have?” or on the other you could say “McGregor wouldn’t have stood for that” and wonder if we’d have been organised any better defensively?
Either way, McGregor needs to be reinstated. GVB has some difficult decisions to make in terms of team selection all over the pitch, but this one, simply, is a no brainer.