After the huge disappointment of the penalty shoot out loss to Queen of the South in the Ramsdens Cup semi-final at Ibrox on Tuesday night, it’s now back to the surreal bread and butter of the third division campaign, with a televised, Sunday home game against Montrose, who are almost the diametrically opposed team of the Scottish leagues in contrast to Rangers.
While the “Gable Endies” are in one respect similar to Rangers in their longevity, in that they were established only seven years after their new found big city rivals in 1879, they are based in a small town of about 11,000 people, in Angus, 38 miles north of Dundee, and attract probably the smallest crowds in of all the league clubs. This is probably a combination of population with the fact that, despite their long history, it has been consistently uneventful – in terms of success on the field at any rate.
The diehard supporters could hardly be accused of being glory hunters unless they are there due the club’s ten Forfarshire Cup titles. They are a different breed of fan who faithfully support their local team in the knowledge that there is likely to be little to celebrate each season - with only the odd exception like their second place with promotion and extremely short flirtation with Division 2 in 1995.
Their normal attendance seems to hover around the 300 hundred mark for third division games, and as such it should be no surprise that they are a part time team with very limited resources. You’d have to expect their walk on to the Ibrox pitch in front of over 40,000 fans in the full glare of the television cameras – whose pictures of themselves will be visible to them on the big stadium screens, will be a bit of a culture shock.
The kind of performance they produce could very well depend on their ability to cope with this kind of spotlight which causes some people to freeze and others to thrive. However, considering the difference in the level of abilities of the opposing teams, the Ibrox crowd will be expecting the home players to give a footballing lesson to the small town boys. After a stuttering start away from home and three for three draws, there will be little compassion among the crowd who will not want much respect given to the lesser known boys in blue.
With a previously good home record completely binned on Tuesday, the now signature sluggish start to all games, home and away, will only cause consternation in the home crowd and with patience for the current manager, while already exhausted for some, is wearing very thin for the rest. They will expect a Usain Bolt style leap out of the blocks and his patented acceleration all the way to the finish line.
With a 3-1 win in their last game to add to two draws and two losses, Montrose have leapfrogged up to 8th place in the league table while Rangers’ three draws have given them an unexpected fourth place, although only a point behind all the three team above.
Rangers have lost top scorer, Andy Little to injury and after only a glimpse of the most exciting new signing, Dave Templeton, he has also succumbed with the latest artificial pitch getting a nod of the blame.
With the last couple of performances it has to be seen if McCoist will shake up the team but with those injuries and a pretty thin squad, it’s difficult to predict who he could bring in. Francesco Stella has by all accounts been granted clearance but not much has been reported about the Aussie, or his current state of fitness although he has played in a closed doors game.
He would be my first choice replacement for Sandaza who to me is looking like a very poor man’s Samaras. Kevin Kyle was perhaps harshly sent off against the Queens, but considering his time on the pitch, showed he needs to watch his temperament.
It’s hard to predict what changes Ally will make so I’ll make a subjective possible team:
I predict a comprehensive win which won’t yet be enough for the daggers to be sheathed just yet for McCoist. Anything else will add to the crescendo of voices calling for the axe.
If you would like to talk about the game, tactics and possible starting XI, please join in the discussion on the Gersnet Forum