Rangers fans have reacted to tonight’s win over St Johnstone in the cup with a mixture of dejection and frustration, with a hint of relief.
It is fair to say the performance didn’t go down well with the majority of fans, following all-round stale displays from most players, and a real lack of energy and incision.
Up for criticism were James Tavernier, Malik Tillman and Fashion Sakala, while Ben Davies and Connor Goldson had marginally better games according to general consensus, but the overall feeling at the end of this one was how poorly the visitors played.
There are indeed two ways to look at this:
Firstly, yes, the traveling display was very bad, lacked any kind of coherence and few players seemed to be giving it everything they had. Sakala had a moment or two, including a sort of assist for Barisic’s winner, but was at his general worst for decision-making, while Tavernier struggled to put much into the box that connected. It was flat, very flat, and for the first time since Michael Beale has been manager, the second half saw little improvement, but instead a squeaky bum period at the end as the visitors clung on for dear life. Only some remarkable defending from the club captain prevented the equaliser.
The other way is to look at it objectively, and factually. It doesn’t matter how you get there, winning is all that matters, and once again the boss has produced a gritty result and passage to the next round. Beale just wins, knows how to, and that appears to rub off on his players.
Sure, the substitutions were questionable, with Kamara once again coming on, but while Scott Wright’s initial appearance on the touchline didn’t inspire, his performance was impressive and he looked determined to give the boss something to think about. It’s the second time recently he’s looked hungry and capable from the bench. And the use of Scotty Arfield and Antonio Colak as actual time wasters was either one of two things: disrespectful to excellent players, or two Rangers men taking one for the team to try to get the side over the line. That’s up to you how you perceive it.
Beale is, no question, a very, very odd manager with a very, very odd style. He does so much which displeases fans, bringing on unpopular subs and usually having a horrible first half – but once again as we keep saying, if he keeps on winning, and the victories are mounting up, there is little complaint we can have.
In truth, Bears of an older vintage will acknowledge the Grand Master Walter Smith generally played football that was, shall we say, not aesthetically the most pleasing – indeed, while being very disrespectful, Argentina’s Lionel Messi called it ‘anti-football’. But what Walter did was use the resources he had to get the results he did – you simply cannot criticise the method when he was as much of a winner as he was.
Beale is nowhere near Walter, and surely never will be, but he is making the best of utterly limited resources and by hook or by crook, like Walter, he’s winning.
As long as that remains the case, there’s little argument against him.