So finally Rangers get their just rewards yesterday, with an emphatic win against their Old Firm Rivals. As stated before, there is not a massive gap as some in the Scottish Press would like to think there is when it comes to the two teams on the park.
However there seems to be an excuse banded about for Celtic that they had enforced changes in their back line which unsettled the team.
True that can happen, but it seems to have been forgotten about that Rangers also had three changes to their back line too in McCrorie, Souttar and Yilmaz – who have replaced regulars in McGregor, Davies and Borna.
In Rangers’ case, these changes in the back line have made us more of a unit.
With McCrorie in goal (4 clean sheets in 4 goals, 2 of those against Celtic) there was a commanding & confident presence that has been lacking in goal for some time now. The lad came for crosses, was at ease taking the ball with BOTH feet, made a good save when it was needed & came off his line and took no prisoners – if this was an audition to get a first team place then the lad warrants the role or at least a call back!!
Souttar was our best defender, while not naturally left sided he was comfortable playing there. He didn’t mind the physical challenge of the Korean boy up front, while he was comfortable bringing the ball out of defence and his use of the ball was good. It’s always nice to have a good natural balance at centre half, however it’s not essential all the time to have a good centre half partnership. Souttar can only get better in terms of fitness and adapting to the way Beale wants him to play.
Yilmaz had a good solid game, he looks to have a good turn of pace on him, and he loves a tackle. Tried to link up with Matondo & Sakala when he could, but the only thing that let him down sometimes was the final ball – but again with coaching this is something that the 21-year-old can make improvements on over the summer. There were only a few times that the right winger managed to get past him, overall he can be pleased with his performance.
In midfield both teams had their usual players out on display, but a tactical tweak from Beale made sure we were not over run here at all, plus Raskin, Lundstrum & Jack gave the defence protection when it was needed. Cantwell was told to be a pain in the arse and close down McGregor anytime he was trying to start an attack – and my god it worked treat. We simply gave them hardly any time on the ball to create.
Upfront we had an untested front two of Sakala & Matondo – with Cantwell just playing off the front, and not a lot was made about that in the press – all they spoke about was Kyogo missing for them!!
This gave Rangers running power & pace, something we have been crying out for – which Sakala displayed throughout the game – he never gave the centre half’s a moments peace the whole game – this was one of his better performances for Rangers – and it’s something that he needs to do in a more consistent basis. While yesterday he was great, how many supports would sat hand on heart they would be happy with Sakala being the 1st choice striker going into next season???
Matondo didn’t do anything spectacular that caught the eye to be fair, one or two good runs with the ball in the first half, however didn’t really make use of his pace to get him in behind that much. His work rate was good, but that must be the minimum required to succeed at Rangers. He was blowing out his backside after 60 mins, and got replaced by Hagi – however on the evidence displayed today, he still needs a run of games to build up understanding of the team & how other players work.
Out of that Rangers team today only Tav, Goldson, Lundstram, Raskin, Cantwell & possibly Jack would be first picks in most fans’ eyes when we had a full fit & fully functioning team.
So as much as there were changes for Celtic in their defence, there was also a lot of changes within the Rangers rank too. But sports writers up & down the country will paper over the fact that this was a much-changed Rangers team too.
Credit needs to go to those who have come in and played for the jersey – their performances individually might not have been what we were looking for quality wise, but to a man they left everything out on the park. What they need to do now is replicate this every single match going forward.
Fans can accept that not all the time will all the players give a 10/10 performance – but what we do demand is leaving everything out on the pitch for the cause regardless of who we are playing.