Killie manager, Allan Johnston has already secured an entry on his managerial CV that our current gaffer continues to aspire to, a League and Cup Double. His tenure at Queen of the South was mercurial, recently relegated, Johnston was in a hurry to re-establish the Dumfries club back in the Championship. There was nothing new in the approach of the recently appointed young boss, he brought in a few experienced campaigners, blooded a few youngsters, and established a momentum. Of course, Rangers were victims of the Doonhamers impetus, at Ibrox in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup. A deep into injury time equaliser, ensured extra time, and a penalty shoot-out victory for Johnston's men. Subsequently, they went on to win the cup against a team, Partick Thistle from the Division above.
Magic's managerial feats saw him awarded Scottish manager of the year and secured a move to the Killie hot seat. His first season at Rugby Park was a continual struggle to keep the club in the Premiership. He succeeded, helped enormously by Kris Boyd's constant ability to notch significant goals. Johnston is on record as recognising Boyd's telling contributions and shaping the entire team to maximise his impact. The ball was played wide and delivered early. This season, minus his free scoring striker, he has rebuilt and demanded the side pass the ball and move. There's a few well kent names in the Killie midfield, Alexi Eremenko, Manuel Pascali, and Jamie Hamill. Killie fans forums are hoping both Tope Obadeyi and Craig Slater are included, with Josh Magennis up front. Kilmarnock began this season quite well and were hovering around top four; however, they have lost their last four matches, including a 0-3 thrashing at home to Ross County. Currently, they sit seventh in the table.
Like the visitors, our team is in crisis. The Alloa performance was something we have become most used to these last three seasons, turgid. Uninspiring and flabby, a reliance on slinging thirty-forty yard diagonals into the box, and hoping for something from the second ball. Getting in behind teams is a nostalgic memory. Even when we fashioned a goal from a set piece, we could not hold on to it for five minutes, Liam Buchannan reacting after a wonderful save. Effectively, there were ten minutes to play and we did not create another opportunity, it seems we are incapable of pinning teams back. Tynecastle was another script well read. A bizarre team selection saw Mohsni return after several weeks of deserved time on the sidelines. This pushed our best and quickest central defender, McGregor back out to right back, where he has looked uncomfortable. Smith starts as wide left midfield, MacLeod is shuffled to wide right, and the Law/Black central midfield partnership continues unabashed. A lack of balance can be compensated for by experience? Not at Rangers, it was the experience ie three over 30 players that lost it and saw one red card, and possibly should have seen two others flashed.
I have been encouraged by our progress in the League Cup against Premiership opposition, two one nil victories against Inverness Caley and St Johnstone. We looked comfortable and Lewis MacLeod delivered when required. Surely, a central midfield berth will benefit the team, he can both see and execute a telling pass. The wide players and those up front must pine for balls they can run on to, it turns the opposition. Return Law to his 'Well position of wide right midfield, coming off the touch line, giving and going amid the triangles. Play Templeton wide left and re-establish his partnership with Wallace. Then, whoever we play up front will not spend the vast majority of any game, with their backs to goal.
I hope Ally plays: Simonsen; Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Wallace; Templeton, Black, MacLeod, Law; Clark and Boyd. I predict (hope) a continuation of one zip victories over the big teams.
In past previews, I have often utilised historical meetings/dates to hang the piece on, and wondered who we played in the fourth round forty years past? When I realised, it was a very bad memory. I attended, along with 65,000 other Bears, Rangers very first match to be played on a Sunday, against a superb Dundee side. It was an afternoon of weak sunshine and an even weaker defence of the cup we had won magnificently the season before, 3-2 against ra Yahoos. Dundee, managed by former Ibrox boss, Davie White, passed and moved for ninety minutes, put three in our net and it could have, should have been more. We were lucky to get nil. Combine this with Allan Johnston's first visit to Ibrox as a Hearts player, he scored a hat-trick in a deserved 0-3 win. Then there was ..................................... It will be hard enough battling Killie, without battling the omens too.
Please feel free to comment below or on the forum thread for 26th of foot's match preview here - Match Preview: Scottish Cup Fourth Round, Rangers versus Kilmarnock.