For all the progress Michael Beale had impressively made between PSV leg one and Ross County, everything the boss did was completely undone by a diabolical travesty of a shambles in Eindhoven as the travelling side crumpled to humiliation.
We had bought into Michael Beale after so impressively tactically out-thinking Peter Bosz at Ibrox, and actually being unlucky not to have won the match. He followed it up with a clinical win at Dingwall, giving us hope the man was learning fast how to suss Rangers’ opponents out more efficiently.
And even 10 minutes into the action at the Philips Stadion, the visitors looked neat, a little bit dangerous, and strung a few passes together.
But PSV got their act together, and pushed Rangers back quick, Bosz now mastering Beale with ease. It was only a matter of time before the hosts got a deserved opener.
That Rangers completely imploded after this opener was sad, and predictable, and the fact the Famous basically stopped playing after 15 minutes, chasing shadows and being unable to connect any passes at all highlighted how tactically dense Michael Beale had been in his team choice.
Don’t listen to the nonsense of those Rangers fans telling you we were out of our league v PSV – we sure weren’t out of our league against the same players last week, we matched and tactically shone in that one.
When over the past 7 days did we suddenly go out of our depth and lose our way?
Answers on a postcard.
No, this one is completely on Michael Beale, 100%. The man who got the first leg mostly bang on, absolutely blew the second leg in the kind of way only he can.
He changed the system and the personnel, changing Jack to Lundstram and Sima to Matondo and opting for a bizarre flat 4-4-2 in which Matondo was highest and Cifuentes was covering the right of midfield. Cantwell was sort of behind Dessers in a bizarre system which offered no balance, and no reading, and Tavernier, in a rare defence of him, was deeply exposed by a system which forced him out of position to offer balance because there was no one else on his side giving width.
Michael Beale was the architect of Rangers’ fine first leg, and dismal second.
PSV did nothing in the second leg they didn’t in the first, but Rangers for some reason stood off them most of the night – how often did Bakayako get a cross past Barisic or Lang get easily past Tavernier?
In short, Rangers reversed the good work of the first leg by giving PSV space in the dangerous areas, rather than closing them down and hunting in packs like the first leg.
Butland barely had a save to make at Ibrox, in Eindhoven he was forced to keep the score down.
We simply don’t know why Beale didn’t go with the same again – because it was his changes which opened things up for PSV.
Sima in the first leg was mainly running off his man middle and left and making a nuisance – in this one, Matondo was completely on the left wing being marked out of the game, and being physically beaten by big bruisers who kept him at bay easily. He wasn’t used as a weapon later on as the opponent tired, he was in from the start.
And Jack – he was great in the first leg, protecting Tav a lot and Goldson too – Lundstram cannot and has never been able to do that persistently. So the defence at that side was completely exposed.
No, Beale got it wrong, completely wrong, and you know what?
He’s admitted it. He admitted after this match that it was on him.
Fair play, one of the few things he’s said we agree with.
Because as poor as the players were tonight, Beale hijacked another big occasion with another bad team selection/system and cost his club £20M.
Oh Mick, what have you done?