Rangers’ season over in February? Big match mentality costs again

Rangers’ season over in February? Big match mentality costs again
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Connor Goldson of Rangers looks dejected following the team's defeat in the Viaplay Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Well there will be a tonne of post-mortem after Rangers’ latest big-game fail – as much blame as we can put on the players for not really showing up, the manager for getting the selections wrong and making the subs too late, the one thing still missing from Rangers is big-match mentality.

While there have been exceptions, winning in PSV being a huge one, most times Rangers end up in massive matches with everything on the line, they choke.

It’s a new theme since 55 – while we mostly delivered that season and finally cracked the 55th title, since then the matches that really, really count, we’ve been unable to show up for. Unless you count Hearts in the cup final, which was an eminently winnable match which we still struggled in.

There is just a real lack of balls at Ibrox, whereby we can string a run together, we can win some tough games, but every time there’s a massive amount on the line, especially against Celtic, we flub our lines and choke. Sevilla was one, most of the Champions League matches were more, and now all three Celtic matches this season have just not gone in our favour.

Victory today would have been a seismic result for Rangers – the official announcement that we’re effectively the best team in Scotland since Michael Beale took over.

But whether for that choker mentality, or Beale’s own obsession with hijacking Old Firm matches, we’ve fallen a bit short yet again this season, and the only thing we really currently have to remember this campaign with any fondness is going to be that win in Holland.

Today was a chance to change the Scottish picture, but Beale’s management and the performance fell considerably short. Celtic were far from great today, but they didn’t need to be – Rangers’ big-match lack of mentality appeared again, while Beale’s infatuation with making errors cost significantly.

We have admired a lot of what Beale has done, but evidently, he doesn’t want to learn from his errors, or even worse, finds new ones to make.

Of course, he is still a young manager, he remains his first season in the job, and he’s done far more good than bad. We’re not turning on him by any means.

But unfortunately he’s not learned quick enough, and it cost Rangers a cup. A huge cup which would have made a massive amount of difference.

All the pre-match hype and trash talk didn’t deliver, and that’s not great at all.

The Great Muhammed Ali used to trash talk his opponent all the time, but he was good enough to back that up and slap them around. Rangers are not yet at the stage to make the same assurances.

We hoped they were, we crossed our fingers they were, but today was not to be.

There remains a lot of work to do but all we have to play for now this season is the Scottish Cup again.

Not the best.

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