After the results of the last 2 weeks I have written a letter to the SFA asking for a rule change: I have asked them if a football match can begin with the clock on 95 minutes and count down to nil. Hopefully that will cut out much of the stress of being a Rangers supporter. When we score in the 93rd minute it will mean an early goal for a change. The Rangers team seem to have found a way to keep the supporters biting their fingernails to the last kick of the ball. Conspiracy hunters could be thinking that the club have adopted new policies to keep the so-called 'Subway Loyal' supporters fixed to their seats to the end of the game. We have won 3 games in injury time this season against Motherwell, Dundee and Partick and if you count our defeats against Celtic in the League Cup and Aberdeen in the League that is 5 games that have been decided in the dying seconds of the game.
Watching the Partick game on Sky at the weekend it was a breath of fresh air to hear Neil McCann sitting next to the commentator. He must be the best, most balanced pundit in Scottish football. Andy Walker may not be so well balanced but in fairness to him, he and Neil pointed out where our weaknesses are in attack. We just do not have a forward bursting a gut to get into a position to score goals. Harry Forrester broke away a few times getting deep into the Thistle penalty area. A good striker would have been bursting a gut to get to the front or back post. Garner had jogged behind to position himself at the edge of the penalty area. Andy Walker says regularly as a forward you sometimes have to gamble and make a run in hope a ball will come your way. Our forwards just don't seem to make those runs into the box. Garner, Miller and McKay all come away from the goal leaving not one player in the box. The manager has been saying that Garner has to get used to the system but a square peg rarely fits in a round hole. If you want to win the Donkey Derby you buy a donkey. If you want to win the Grand National you buy a racehorse. I don't mean Garner is a donkey; I just don't understand why Warburton bought a player who has no idea or even looks like he has the attributes to play the system he wants to play?
Another thing that has annoyed me of late is that Foderingham plays the ball out to Tavernier, Wallace, Halliday or Wilson\Hill; they feed the ball to Holt, Windass, or whomever is in the midfield, and the ball is then played first touch back to Kiernan. In that time the opposition have moved up to pressure us, and Kiernan has no option but to play a long ball. When it comes to Kiernan giving the ball more than 10 yards, I have to think of Clarence the cross-eyed lion who used to star in Daktari all those years ago. I have never seen Clarence in football boots but if I do then I am sure he will make me think of Kiernen playing a ball more than 10 yards. I will admit that I think Kiernan has definitely improved but this is one of the areas we are screaming out for far more quality.
Looking on the bright side, thanks to those 2 fantastic goals from Joe Dodoo we have now won the last two games so we should be building up confidence. Watching a documentary yesterday evening on Mighty Mike van Gerwen, the best darts player on the planet at this moment, He stated: “Winning breeds winning. I used to go to tournaments hoping to finish in the last 16. Now I think I can smash everyone I am playing against”. That is the mentality this Rangers team needs to get. Just hoping for that second place is not for the Rangers-minded. We should be entering the pitch with the belief we can smash every team in the league. I include Celtic with that for if you go into a game expecting to lose then you probably will lose.
On that note we head to Tynecastle on Wednesday on what will be one of our biggest games of the season in the battle for European football. What can we expect? Probably one of our more physical games. We know Robbie Neilson always sets his team out to work hard and get in people's faces. Whether Neilson will still be the Hearts manager remains to be seen as he is in discussions with MK Dons to take over as manager. A sad day when a manager would even consider leaving Scotland's third team for the mighty MK Dons. Another sign of how far Scottish football has nose-dived in relation to England.
Their main striker Bjorn Johnsen is 6 ft 6 inches which will make it physically difficult for our defenders. I would expect Hearts to be looking for free-kicks in dangerous areas as they will know set-pieces are our Achilles Heal. I, as I think every Rangers supporter has, suffered from a massive strain on the sphincter muscle when high balls get crossed into the area. Hearts have not shown great form this season but all these teams seem to step up a gear when the world record league championship holders are in town. Hearts surprisingly bullied and beat us for promotion into the Premiership two seasons ago. The question is how far have we come in the last two seasons? Have we closed the gap on them, or hopefully even overtaken them? Can we now bully them as they did to us two seasons ago? Wednesday evening will give us our first real control point on how Mark Warburton has actually improved the team.
One thing we have to applaud Hearts for is the appointment and work of Ann Budge. She has taken the club from administration and financially turned it around. On Friday at their AGM she announced the club had turned a £1.6 million loss into a £630,000 profit for the year end. She also demanded the club finish in 3rd or 4th position in the league. Working that into my Mighty Mike theory I hope she gets her wish. In both cases behind the boys in Royal Blue of course.
One thing is virtually certain: Mark Warburton will not change from his favoured 4-3-3 system. You know? The plan A and B one. So no points for guessing the system we will play. Unfortunately some teams do get points as their managers also know how we will set up. Sorry! Forget that. We are now using the improved plan B and the Mighty Mike "we can Smash anyone," system!
The two positions I think that are open for discussion are: Who plays in defence and who will play as the main striker? I know we should not look at other teams but as we don't already have a set-in-stone defence, I think I would go for Hill and Kiernan. With Hearts having a 6ft 6" striker I think Kiernan and Hill have more body and are the strongest in the air. Wilson's distribution is certainly better than the others but I think we can expect many long balls up to Bjorn Johnsen and I believe Hill and Kiernan are the best to combat that.
When Joe Dodoo came on for Joe Garner on Saturday the team all of a sudden looked far more dangerous. We looked like we could actually stretch the Thistle defence. Dodoo does not go in search of those physical battles with the opposition rearguard. Dodoo looks for that bit of space that is essential for scoring goals. Looking at both goals he scored on Saturday he scored them because he had lost his defender. That is a far better attribute to have in my eyes as clamping fast on a defender and trying to out-muscle them. Sometimes there are horses for courses, but Garner has struggled to get out of the stalls and Dodoo in the little playing time he has had looks as though with a little grooming he could turn into a thoroughbred. Coming off the bench and scoring does not always translate into starting games and scoring but I think Dodoo definitely deserves his chance as the main striker with Miller and Forrester partnering him in the attack.
I think the team will be:
Tavernier - Kiernen - Hill - Wallace
Holt - Halliday - McKay
Forrester - Dodoo - Miller
Having Wallace, McKay and Miller on the left means if Miller moves inside or drops deep it will leave room for McKay or Wallace to fill in the wide position giving more balance to the team.
It is time to try something different; it is time for Dodoo! Dodoo! Dodoo Dodoo Dodoo.
Great to hear the 1960\70's battle chant "Get intae them" has also seen a resurgence with this.
C'Mon THE GERS "GET INTAE THEM!" As Mighty Mike would say "We can Smash them!"
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