It was a crazy, hectic first half against Hamilton on Sunday, in a game where both teams played with an attacking mindset and the better quality of Rangers shone through. The reactions of the fans after the game have been pretty universal. The majority feel excited by the attacking play, and worried about the defending. Here are some of the talking points and my opinions on that.
THE DEFENCE – A DEFENCE
There were a couple of poor mistakes that led to the Hamilton goals. I can understand the frustration and criticism there. But it’s also worth noting the reaction of Murty after the match. His annoyance at the way the team played in general, pointing out the issues in front of the defence, are rather telling.
There’s no doubt that our fullbacks are better going forward than defensively. It’s clear that Russell Martin is still settling in, and was never going to be a top class player anyway. What is also clear is that the defence is exposed right now by a very attack-minded team. Our midfielders, largely played out of necessity in truth, aren’t naturally defensive minded. They don’t sense the danger or look over their shoulder without having to be reminded to do so. When players like McCrorie and Ryan Jack are available again, this balance will shift.
It’s also somewhat unreasonable to expect the team to stay solid defensively, but improve so much going forward. We don’t have a side with world class players all over the pitch. Even teams who do will often be weak at the back or the likes. Our defending will suffer as long as we play with such an attacking mindset. Murty knows this, and will look to sort out the balance.
Murty deserves praise for his starting line-up, and his post-match interview. It would have been tempting to stick with the team that beat Ayr so impressively. Many fans were critical when the team was announced, in large part due to the feeling of excitement regarding Cummings. However, the way the team played going forward, with spaces found wide, completely justified the choice. Despite Windass being clearly the most impactful player under Murty so far, some are still not convinced by him. Murty has shown a strength of character to continue playing him, and it’s paying off.
It was after the match, though, where Murty showed some real steel. His frustration at the way the team played, and didn’t follow his instructions, was evident in his interviews. He will be happy with plenty of aspects of our play, but rightly angered by others. He isn’t allowing the team to get too carried away, and that will be vital as the season progresses. Some may feel he’s a bit too critical, or shouldn’t highlight certain players, but these are the sort of standards fans like to see being set. Murty doesn’t seem to waver or let emotions get in the way too often at the moment.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
DOCHERTY OR HOLT?
With Holt being suspended, Docherty made his first league start. Jason Holt has shown some improvement of late, and even captained the side. Greg Docherty has impressed in his games, and certainly grew into the match on Sunday. Given the performances of the forward four of late, it would look like there’s only one spot for either player. Goss has shown he’s pretty vital to our style of play, so it’ll be either Docherty or Holt next to him until injuries clear up. The question is, has Docherty done enough to keep the shirt?
Personally, I think Docherty is a better footballer than Holt. However, Holt was doing well, and is a bit more experienced at this stage. Our next match will be a difficult one against Hearts, and it may be that Murty leans on Holt this time and puts Docherty on the bench.
Anything you’d like to discuss about the game, or other talking points? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!