It's already been a few days since Saturday's defeat and I don't mind admitting I'm still smarting from the loss of another three points at Ibrox.
First and foremost though, I don't think we played as badly as some have since suggested. Yes, Hibs were certainly the better team for much of the first half but we grew into the game and dominated after half-time. Problem was - and has been the case for most of this season at home - we couldn't break them down and, when we finally did, we conceded a cheap goal to shoot ourselves in the foot. That's the main source of frustration for me.
As such, I don't blame fans for being annoyed. Our troubles on Saturday weren't new and to drop another three points isn't good enough. Yet, I think we have to be positive. Unfortunately a few players didn't play well (especially our primary creators of Tav and Candeias) so we just didn't make enough good chances. And, when we did, guys like Windass and Morelos - both fairly reliable goalscorers - fluffed their lines. To only score one goal was a very poor reflection of our play. Ultimately, with just one player up front, we're often predictable and regularly profligate. That has to change.
With that in mind, I wonder if Graeme Murty will be tempted to move to a front two at Firhill tonight. He's favoured a 4-2-3-1 of late and it has been reasonably effective in terms of results but it seems to me Morleos lacks support at times and as he becomes increasingly (and understandably) jaded, we're not quite able to keep the ball in the final third for long enough. As such, although Jason Cummings hasn't looked quite fully fit yet himself, I'd be starting both together tonight. We do have other options in Dodoo, O'Halloran, Herrera and perhaps even Kenny Miller but all four lack the game-time to feature from kick-off.
If Murty does indeed opt for a front two that means a likely return to the diamond he used to good effect before the new year. It also means he can bring in another fresh face in Greg Docherty who can offer us a bit more drive from midfield. The young signing from Hamilton is no creative silver bullet but I think we'll need his combative strength in deeper areas this evening. Jason Holt should keep his position on the other side of the diamond whilst Sean Goss can again sit that wee bit deeper and allow us to get forward efficiently from the back.
That leaves the tip of the diamond and we have another few options there. Do we persevere with Windass in a more withdrawn role or opt for Jamie Murphy's experience? Personally I'd go with the latter as the on-loan attacker looked bright on Saturday. Having more options in attack should help him as well and with Docherty able to get up alongside him too, Murphy can drift into the channels if required.
Deploying a diamond does mean the onus increases once more on our full-backs. In that sense, Tavernier has rarely shirked from his responsibilities this season and one (albeit schoolboy) error on Saturday shouldn't stop him from being an important player again across the Clyde tonight. Similarly, at left back Declan John has - in my view - been steadily improving on the other flank and linked well with Murphy against Hibs. As such both can supply any necessary width tonight.
I do think it is worth pointing out we did struggle initially at the back on Saturday. John did leave too much space in behind early on whilst Russell Martin was dragged out of position too easily as well early on. Ironically though Hibs opened the scoring when David Bates failed to close down John McGinn. However, as a unit, they did fine after half-time and will be keen to get a clean sheet tonight. As will Foderingham in goal who I felt didn't look all that convincing at McGinn's opener.
As has been the case for a lot of this season, we took another step or two back at the weekend but have to react well tonight. Despite Saturday's loss, we had a good January window and the signings of Murphy, Cummings and Docherty were brought in to address our attacking deficiencies so I hope to see all three given the chance to do that tonight.
In closing, the one position we have failed to fill is that of manager. In that sense, Graeme Murty perhaps remains an unlikely candidate for the permanent position and I think not replacing Pedro Caixinha before now remains bizarre at best. Yet, if we had come out of Saturday with even a draw, I doubt fans would be too upset. As such, we need to continue to back the team and manager and help deliver the improvements we need to restore our club to the pinnacle of Scottish football. That won't happen overnight and even the best Rangers teams lost occasionally. However, neither should that make any defeat acceptable so a win this evening must be delivered.
No more excuses, no more bad luck stories and no more wastefulness. As we move into February and the business end of the season, the pressure is on and it's now time this Rangers squad starting dealing with it.
Possible team (4-4-2 Diamond):
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