On the first of May 2008, Nacho Novo scored one of the most memorable goals I have ever seen. It was a moment in my life I will never forget. I had watched wee Nacho score many a goal however, this was extra special. I watched it with my late partner, Jean, and it was the kick that took us to the UEFA Cup final in Manchester. I remember being on my knees and then royally screaming in delight as the wee man scored that penalty that took us to the final.
Nacho was brought to Ibrox from Dundee in July 2004, for less than £500k; in my opinion and that of many others, it was an absolute steal, as he would go on to score many a goal for Rangers - arguably none more so than that night in Italy. There have been many players who have donned both the dark and light blue: Bomber Brown, Claudio Caniggia, Gavin Rae and Zurab Khizanishvili spring to mind in more recent years, however I am sure there are many more over the years who have had the privilege of wearing the light blue after a spell at Dens Park.
In our first meeting with the dark blues this season, a superb first half display and goals from Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller were enough to see off a spirited second half performance from the home side. Nevertheless, it must be said that although our performance in the first half that day was exceptional our second half performance was like many this season, well below par. No matter, at the end of the match we walked away with three points and a satisfactory 2-1 victory at a venue where most had expected a very tough contest.
This Saturday we now welcome Dundee to Ibrox, a welcome return to club football after the mediocrity, at best, of the international break. A very brief point from that break is that I felt big Waldo had an excellent game at left back for Scotland. Personally though I hope he saves himself for first team football with Rangers. Obviously, our last match at Ibrox saw us leave with a comfortable 3-0 win over Kilmarnock and our display was by far the most composed, professional and pleasing to watch of the season. We did take our foot of the gas after around 60 minutes, which left the final third of the match rather pedestrian with Kilmarnock sitting in and us not looking to add a gloss finish to what was already a job well done. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day, the respect that was shown from the fans during our remembrance, was, as usual a credit to themselves and both clubs. It was a fitting way to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who are left with life changing injuries due to the selfless courage in defending our country and our freedom. It was also my privilege to be there with my niece who at eight years old shows great understanding and respect for those who defend our nation.
Unfortunately the following performance away to Ross County was dreadful after a bright start. However, all criticism aside, perhaps it's best not to dwell on negatives and look at the positives of our last home match and look to replicate that fine performance again with a solid victory against what will surely be a well organised and motivated Dundee side - starting to pick up more points under manager Paul Hartley.
In that sense, I hope that Mark Warburton will stick with the team that played so well against Kilmarnock, starting with O'Halloran and Garner in the more attacking roles. I genuinely feel at the moment the side is the strongest we have and we should persevere with it until we may think about strengthening during the transfer window.
As such, I expect a 4-3-3 of Foderingham in goal with a back four of Tavernier, Kiernan (or Wilson), Hill and Wallace. Our midfield again comprising of Halliday, Holt and Windass with O'Halloran, Garner and Miller up front. I know there are many who are of the opinion that Miller should be rested from time to time but I felt he was our best performer in Dingwall and he always look ready and willing. I notice Garner is showing good signs and although he didn’t look great in the Highlands, there was a lack of service and I felt he was and will come on to a game. Indeed, I suspect it may be Miller's work ethic that is rubbing off on him but let’s hope they all pick the pace back up this Saturday. I will predict a 3-1 home victory and although I've not had a coupon up this season, Saturday would be a good time to start. It would certainly be nice if we had the luxury of being able to call on someone of wee Nacho’s ability and terrier like personality at the moment in front of goal.
That night in Italy is a fond memory of which I have many spending watching Rangers with my late partner Jean. It will be a year next week since she passed, fighting a battle she couldn’t win, one many of us know all too well, against a cruel and unforgiving cancer. Jean was a Rangers supporter since birth and like us all, Rangers was a way of life. It’s been a long and hard year for me which has been made just a little more tolerable from time to time, contributing to Gersnet. It’s a genuine big thanks to everyone on our forum for their rantings of the day which have frequently cheered me up. It goes without saying that this Saturday I will lay some flowers for Jean and will be thinking of her when we take to the field.
A good performance and three more points will be the order of the day. C’mon the Bears!
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