As you’d expect from any Rangers game against Aberdeen, there were a few talking points from the game on Sunday. The main one, of course, was the red card for Ryan Jack. We’ll certainly discuss this, but I’d like to highlight some other aspects from the game that were worth discussion.
This was a game which required the players to stand up to a physical challenge. Not only did they do this, but in the first half they completely dominated the game. Aberdeen tried to get in the face of our players, but lost the heart to do so as we knocked the ball about well. Yet again, the forward three was causing some issues. Pena was finding space in central areas, linking up well with Windass. Miller kept possession well, and was great at keeping the players organised and honest. The midfield outworked their opponents, and we were defensively sound. When you consider the injuries and influence missing from the side, and even the fact we still had the caretaker manager in charge, this was very impressive.
By far the best thing from the two matches against Aberdeen has been the team spirit. We were all concerned that the squad was fractured in recent weeks. The way they crumbled against Hamilton and Dundee exacerbated those fears. However, every player in these games wanted to win, and fight for each other. Even players like Pena, who don’t enjoy the defensive side of the game, were tracking back and winning tackles. There was the red card, the fact certain Aberdeen players got away with numerous fouls, and yet the players didn’t let that affect them. We tried to earn the right to play football rather than expect the opposition to let us, which is a big factor in sides being successful.
The managerial situation led to a strange situation. It seems certain that Derek McInnes will be the next Rangers manager, possibly even by the time you read this. He was in the dugout for Aberdeen, but his pre-match interview where he forgot who was starting made you question his influence on the day. Murty has done a decent job in charge, given everything that’s been going on. Both him and the players deserve credit for the way they’ve turned things around this week. Murty didn’t let the speculation surrounding McInnes bother him. The team simply focused on proving they were better than they’d shown in the previous games, and Murty deserves credit for giving them that platform.
But of course, the main talking point from the game was Ryan Jack’s red card. There’s been a lot of debate surrounding the decision. Personally, I’m undecided on where I sit in terms of opinion. I believe both sides of the argument have merit. I’m also of the opinion that the views of ex-players shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. Kris Commons and Tam McManus are decent pundits who don’t offer opinions to be controversial or from a place of bias. Both felt the red card was justified. You then have Willie Miller, an ex-Aberdeen player who would be biased, feeling it was harsh. The very fact there’s a difference of opinion is pretty telling.
Despite any opinions, I’m pretty convinced any appeal to the red card would be unsuccessful. Whilst it seems strange to fans, referees are told not to consider the ball when making these decisions. The fact Jack won it easily won’t be part of the process for them. For me, it wasn’t a pass from Jack, given how he hit it. It was a challenge he looked to win strongly, and May didn’t go in correctly and got hurt. That’s not to say Jack was wrong to do so, but there is always that risk when you make that decision.
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Rangers fans are justified in thinking it was a harsh decision. Others are justified in saying it was a red card. The main point of contention is intent, and that’s the impossible part to prove either way. It may be that with everything else going on in terms of the managerial position, any appeal will be put aside given the likelihood the suspension will be upheld.
So yet again, that’s two consecutive wins and a good chance to finally get that third in a row at the weekend. Ross County are a more organised side under Owen Coyle, but it’s a game we should win. There’s a confidence in the players that looked completely gone not long ago, and players coming back from injury who strengthen our options.
What was your opinion on the red card? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!