Well what a week it has been! In fact if we take the first game against Aberdeen into account, I will make that, what a last week and a half it has been!
Whipping the Ovis aries, commonly known as the Sheep, 3-0 at Fort Brox (how I wish it was a fort) and then travelling up to Aberdeen for a little chewing of the cud by beating them 2-1 in their own sparsely habited Pittodrie stall really was most satisying. Even although we were down to ten men after an hour played, the players showed a character that we could only have dreamed about a few months ago. Ryan Jack was sent off for getting to the ball first and getting a pass away but was unfortunate to unintentionally land on the incoming leg of Stevie May who had pulled out of a 50\50 tackle. Now I am not going to say he sh!t it but there were more sheep droppings behind him than can be found on the Shetland Islands.
Willie Collum all of a sudden got his animals mixed up and thought he was a matador waving his red card like he was fighting a bull. It is of course a trait by Mr Collum as he gives out more cards than any other referee in the top division in Scotland. In fact he probably produces more cards than Moonpig.com. Ryan Jack had been outstanding up until that point and will certainly be a big miss when we take to the field on Saturday to face Ross County at Ibrox. Rangers appealed Ryan's red card but it was rejected leaving him with a three match ban.
Character is the word I would use for the last two games. We saw fight and determination that we had not previously seen from this team. I have often said there is no player willing to bust a gut trying to get to a ball. Josh Windass proved me wrong with his goal to put us 2-0 up. He did bust a gut to get in front of Shay Logan and turn a fantastic low cross from Daniel Candeias into the net.
Aberdeen scored just two minutes later from a lovely free kick leaving us still with almost thirty minutes to keep our lead. Now I am not one to get into global warming but I think the Rangers supporters were guilty of the high production of methane gas for that last thirty minutes. Thankfully we held out for the 2-1 win and jumped over both Hibs and Aberdeen to the second place in the league.
Character, that is it! But one character who won't be in the Rangers dugout this Saturday is Derek McInnes. After six weeks of speculation Rangers finally made a move for him earlier this week. Yet, Aberdeen rejected us permission to talk to him. It then flew around social media that McInnes would resign to talk to Rangers before official news broke that he wanted to stay at Aberdeen.
I have no problem with that as everybody eventually finds a level they are comfortable with. Rangers is a goldfish-bowl where every move is dissected and you have to be up to that. Derek and his family obviously weren't. Now I don't feel sorry for Rangers or Aberdeen. I don't feel sorry for Derek McInnes but I do feel sorry for the wee woman that has spent the whole week embroidering DM on 7 polo shirts, 7pairs of shorts, 7 tracksuit tops, 7 tracksuit bottoms, 3 ski hats and a body warmer for the TV!
More seriously, the winning tactical move in both games was Murty was playing Ryan McCrorie in the defensive midfield role. That released Ryan Jack to a slightly more advanced position and it suited him far better. This meant both Ross McCrorie and Ryan Jack were outstanding in the two games against Aberdeen but due to Jack's red card he is now missing for three of the next four games against Ross County, Hibs and Kilmarnock. At this moment I have no idea who will be covering for Jack in that midfield role as his natural replacement would be Graham Dorrans but he is still on the injury list. I do wonder if we'll see us move away from the diamond of the last two games to our more favoured 4-4-1-1?
Foderingham will be in goals, you can bet your house on that. Tavernier will also hold his right back spot but then it starts to get more difficult to complete the back four. If Alves is fit he will most likely play but if not it is a choice between Wilson, Cardoso and Bates for the central roles. Bates was man of the match against Aberdeen so it is difficult to see past him. As such, I think Murty will go for Bates and Wilson with Declan John remaining at left back and the unfortunate Cardoso on the bench.
McCrorie will again fill in in the defensive midfield role. The big problem is who will fill in for Jack? I think the midfield will be McCrorie, Candeias, Holt, Pena and Windass but this does look a bit lightweight in the middle of the park as Pena and Windass are not the most defensive minded players, and we have lost out with that formation already against Dundee and to a lesser extent Hamilton. Barjonas and Kranjcar are the other options but the last time Kranjcar came on the park he just didn't look fit. Baronjas is still young but has put in good displays before towards the end of last season though I doubt he will be preferred over Candeias, Pena or Windass.
In attack, unfortunately for Morelos it looks like Kenny Miller remains a first pick in the team no matter how he plays so our top scorer will have his bum planted on the bench once more.
Going back to the preview title, Ryan Jack has a three game ban and we are going again for that elusive three wins in a row yet again. As such, I am going for a 3-0 win and our new manager to be named on the 3rd of January! C'mon the Gers!!!
Possible team (4-4-1-1):
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