The game against Hibernian was one of the luckiest wins for Rangers in a long time. Hibs were very good in both halves, and clearly better on the ball on the night. The movement of Stokes and Murray was giving the defence problems, and before Windass equalised most Rangers fans feared a doing.
It’s fair to say that in the two games he’s lost this time around, Murty was a little unlucky. The Hamilton game saw a number of outstanding chances missed. In the Dundee game, Rangers started ok, then fell away when Morelos got injured. He made some mistakes with subs, but that aside he didn’t do much wrong. At Easter Road, he was clearly outplayed by Lennon. The shape of the team had to be changed when Miller got injured, but you could already see our approach wasn’t working. With three forward players on the pitch given freedom to roam, Hibs were sharper and quicker overall.
But Murty carried the luck he hadn’t seen up until now. The goals from Windass and Morelos were great finishes. They were more about their individual quality and confidence though. Murty deserves a lot of credit for the way he has the team working hard for each other at the moment, but as he said himself after the game, that performance was poor. The team now have to raise the levels for the visit of St. Johnstone at the weekend. They won’t get away with three poor performances in a row.
The biggest talking point from the match was the Bates handball. I don’t think there was any doubt it should have been a penalty. The referee had no chance of seeing it, and it was missed by the assistant on the sideline. Again, it was a moment of luck Rangers haven’t had often this season. When you consider the amount of poor decisions that have went against the team, many costing the team points, it can be argued that we had to get one going our way. There will be a lot of noise about this one, but it’s just one of those things that happens.
The fans and players will celebrate the three points, but everyone knows improvements are required. At this time of year, grinding out results can be key. However, the team still need some confidence in themselves and each other. Lucky wins, and the players know they were lucky, will only go so far. They can now be sure that their teammates will fight for the result. Can they be sure that they have the quality required to win matches though? The Aberdeen games were strong performances, but the last two have been more about fight than flair.
Given the situation with the manager role right now, Graeme Murty is doing himself a lot of favours. If he was to get positive results in our four games before the break, there would be a temptation to give him the job permanently. All I would say there is that performances would have to become more consistent. I don’t personally judge a manager on results as such, as so many factors can decide a game. What a manager can get right is team selection and man management. If the team plays well but loses a couple of matches, I’m still of the opinion he done all he can. Conversely, two poor performances where wins were lucky isn’t something you could justify as good management. Murty deserves a load of praise for the job he’s done, and he knows the team needs to play better. For the rest of this month, he needs the players to show that they’re on board with that as well.
But enough of potential negativity – that’s four good wins for Rangers. No one saw that coming after the Dundee match. Let’s hope it’s the start of a great run.