After the visit to Pittodrie last Sunday we are fuming. Frustrated! A total feeling of “We were robbed”!
The decision of referee John Beaton to award a free kick for a perfectly good James Tavernier tackle in the last minute of the game brought a feeling of disbelief. It would seem the referee was the only person on the planet who saw the tackle as a foul. When James Maddison then stepped up and curled a world class free kick into the top corner of the net that disbelief turned to rage. Our manager who is normally the corner-stone of respect walked up to the referee after the final whistle and, with his face grimaced in anger, spoke to him in a way that normally would have been alien to him. What he said I have no idea but it certainly was bad enough for the referee to enter it into the match report.
Roll on a few days and the club are hit with another double whammy. On the same day that Mark Warburton was served with a one match ban, the SFA also dropped all charges against Hibs for their supporters rioting and attacking Rangers players in the Scottish Cup final. A decision that has again thrown up more rage and frustration inside the Rangers family.
The fact that Rod Petrie could call upon the SPFL's 'low level paper gatherer' to fight the charges of the rules his committee have to implement looks like a massive conflict of interest to everyone except the SFA. The Rangers manager is rightly accepting his ban but unfortunately integrity seems to be a one way street.
So what can we do with all this anger? Any psychotherapist will tell you that you have to try and channel it into a positive mental attitude. Given our opponents are Partick Thistle on Saturday you could say, use it as a jag in the bum to fight against the Jags. Turn that anger into an injection of adrenalin to kick off our season for real and start punishing our opponents. Mark Warburton has to take a photo of his anger-grimaced face and hang it on the wall in the home dressing room. He should be saying I don't want to see my face like this on the sidelines. I want to see 11 players with that look on their face from the start of the game to the end. I want to see 11 players bursting a gut to get that ball in the Partick Thistle net.
We are taking a lot of comfort from having a large chunk of possession but the fact is possession does not always win you games. You only have to look at Leicester City to realise that as they won the EPL last season with very few games in which they 'dominated the ball'. The ball resting in your opponent's onion bag is what wins you games. Nothing else!
In that sense, one of our main problems this season had been that when Kenny Miller dropped deep to receive a pass then it left nobody in a central advanced position. Enter Joe Garner and everyone hoped that we once again had an out and out striker. Looking at the passing patterns of the Aberdeen game it was most disappointing to see that the most passes to Joe Garner were almost as deep as Andy Halliday received his passes. That would be okay if he was pulling defenders with him so a Holt or Windass could get in behind but teams are allowing Rangers possession in that area and we're struggling to break them down.
In addition, looking back to what brought us so much success when Mark Warburton first walked into Ibrox was the will to win the ball back high up the pitch. Hunting in packs to get the ball back as quickly as possible. I hate to say it but having watched Celtic v Man City and also Liverpool's 5-1 win against Hull, the most scoring chances comes from winning the ball from the opponents within their defensive third. I have even heard many top clubs train on having a five second turnover. Hence, that is where we need to channel our anger and get that hunger back to win the ball back as quickly as possible in the opponent's danger areas. That is what I have been missing alongside the football we do play. We need that determination to bust a gut that really wins games. Don't get sad - get mad!
Will Mark Warburton make any changes for Saturday? I doubt it to be honest...
Foderingham will keep his place in goal even if I still have doubts about his starting position at the free kick. But to be honest he will probably never come up against such a beautifully placed free-kick ever again. Tavernier was also probably at fault for the first goal but then again Hill looked if he was running backwards against Hayes. However, in general the defence has lo9oked a lot better of late.
I also don't expect any changes in midfield unless Josh Windass is fully fit. He's perhaps more likely to start on the bench though so Halliday, Holt and Forrester will be tasked with dominating the engine-room.
Up front is perhaps where any changes may occur. For all his versatility, Waghorn is better up top and should start ahead of Garner. McKay looked reasonable on the left on Sunday (but less effectively after being moved centrally) so should keep his position. That leaves the right sided role up for grabs and both Michael O'Halloran and Kenny Miller will be keen to play there.
Taking all the above into account this leaves us a starting XI along the following lines. No excuses Rangers!
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