Watching the TV last night I viewed a Boeing 747 Cargo plane take off from Baghdad Airport with four crew members on board. Unknown to them a terrorist group had gathered with a few French journalists and they were going to let the world know that they now had ground to air missiles. No planes in Iraq were going to be safe any more.
Taking aim at the plane thousands of feet above them they released a rocket. The rocket raced into the sky and ripped into the wing of the 747. The pilots felt a jolt but had no idea what had hit them. The wing had burst into flames and was slowly being chewed away by the fire. Managing to turn back towards the airport, all of a sudden the hydraulic systems failed knocking out all the steering systems. The only possibility left was to use the engines to directly steer the plane. This was a method that pilots had tried before but no other plane had successfully managed to get safely back to the ground. The plane had become erratic. Diving downwards until its own speed pulled the nose up and then it started to climb. By climbing the plane lost speed and then started to dive again until it again gained speed to push up the nose again and the plane started to climb. The pilots had then gained some composure and started playing with the throttles to see if they could get the plane flying less erratically. They found that at certain motor speeds they could get some control over the plane. They were able to control the plane reasonably but they regularly had atmospheric dips which caused the plane to dive.
This is where I started to think on the Rangers story. A group of, dare I say terrorists, waiting to shoot our great club down. Then a period when we became rudderless with the old board getting us to climb a little before nose-diving us nearer the ground. Then pulling us up a little with a dubious MASH investment and then nose-diving us nearer to the ground. Then the good pilots in the form of the new board stepped in to get us cruising on a good course.
Unfortunately, the performance of the team is acting just as erratic as that Boeing 747. We win two games and then hit a dip. Win two games and then hit a dip again. It is now more than a year since we won three games in a row. On Saturday we faced Hamilton at Ibrox: a team that had not beaten us in the league at Ibrox for 90 years. Perfect conditions you would think to get us flying to that third victory. Nope! Hamilton threw up enough turbulence to get us nose-diving once again. We can blame the manager and he should accept some of the blame but he is the third manager who can't steer this team to that third win. What does that say for our players?
On Friday evening we enter a new three match cycle which could be one of the most important of the season. We travel to Dens Park to take on Neil McCann's Dundee and that is followed by a home and away double header against Aberdeen. What a time to hit that three game win target! To get to three though we have to win the first game. I hope the players have their seat belts fastened and are ready for take-off.
Rumours were circling around about dressing room unrest with Bruno Alves supposedly refusing to be a substitute last weekend. This was later retracted by two of the newspapers involved. Another sign that they are willing to push out any fake news to fill their papers - even The Times. Murty said that last week Alves was carrying a back injury and it will be a day by day decision whether he is fit or not to play at Dens Park but it seems unlikely.
It will though be interesting to see this week who his chosen defenders will be. Ross McCrorie and Danny Wilson have been first choice but with Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso possibly both fit again our temporary manager has to make a huge call which central defenders will be in his starting eleven. I would think that once bitten twice shy will be applied and if fit he will go with Alves and Cardoso but it seems both may miss out again. There is good news though, with Declan John back from illness I fully expect him to replace Lee Hodson and join James Tavernier in the full-back positions.
The midfield also throws up problems for Murty. Whilst playing some nice football in the first half, Ryan Jack and Jason Holt were ripped apart by the Hamilton midfield in the second half. Does Murty stick or twist with this partnership or will the mysteriously invisible Pena make a re-appearance? Murty has not named him in the injured players list so if he is not at least on the bench then I think we can assume all is not well on that front. He could of course drop Kenny Miller or the now you see him, now you don't, Josh Windass. Millaer seems to be able to dictate himself where and when he plays and as Graham Dorrans is still injured I expect to see more of the same tonight.
I do feel sorry for young Morelos as he missed two glaring chances on Saturday when it was almost easier to score. He really needs a goal to get his confidence back. Every striker goes through a phase like he is going through but his other play is excellent, so he can still walk with his head held high. He does need to score soon though for his own confidence and also for the good of the team. It is also possible to go with Herrera or even Ryan Hardie in a 4-4-2 system. That would also take some of the pressure off of Morelos and it would also mean when Morelos does drop deep he has a player in the box to pass to. Will Murty do a Caixinha and drop Miller though? I doubt it...
One other worrying point is our inability to play in the second half. Is it a fitness thing or a mental block? Michael O'Halloran did state that Pedro Caixinha's training sessions were totally not taxing. Many put it down to sour grapes but our second-half performances seem to suggest that there may be an element of truth in his statement.
Meanwhile in the background the Board are trying to find a new pilot for the first team to fly us up to the heights of success that Rangers should be reaching. Speculation is rife with new and old names appearing every day. The board need to make a decision soon as they are starting to look rudderless and every day that passes they are dropping in altitude in the eyes of the fans.
Going back to my introduction, the pilots of the Boeing 747 managed above all odds to land the plane back at Baghdad Airport although they came off the runway and ended up on a barren piece of ground just short of the airport perimeter. Climbing out of the plane they were shouted at by the airport fire brigade to stand still until help came as they had landed in a minefield left by Iraqi soldiers! Let's hope our board pick their new manager wisely and he gets us flying high climbing the league. The last thing we want is the board and club walking into another managerial minefield.
We are entering a crucial part of the season. Normally I would say let's take one game at a time and that remains so but wins in the next three games could lay a great foundation for the new manager, whoever he is.
Possible team (4-4-2):
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