There’s going to be plenty of fallout from Sunday’s match. The display was shocking, the aftermatch almost embarrassing, and the lack of leadership on and off the field frightening. We could go on all day with talking points from this one, but I’ve tried to narrow it down to the most important.
It was clear from the first minute that Rangers were looking to sit off Celtic in this game. Jamie Murphy was allowing Lustig to have the ball as he cut off passes to Ntcham. Our midfielders seemed happy to let Celtic play in front of them. It was a passive, and pretty strange, approach.
When Celtic were beaten by Zenit, and had to travel to Aberdeen, no one could believe that McInnes sent out his side to play as they did. For whatever reason, Murty done exactly the same in this match. I try to find justification for the decisions managers make in games rather than just take the “on paper” view. For this one, I can’t see why Murty thought this was the best way to win the game. At Ibrox, whilst we hurt them most on the break, we did press higher and force mistakes for a lot of the match. That’s been the only way any team has had joy against Celtic. The sheer lack of faith in our team to be able to at least put up a fight that way can’t have found the players feeling confident going into the game.
Tactics and managerial decisions are one thing. I’m of the belief, though, that you can only really talk about them when players play well. No Rangers player did that. Some may point to the tactics and blame them for how they played. That would be a real diffusion of responsibility, though.
The only player who looked like he wanted to be there was Greg Docherty. He was winning tackles and working hard. The rest seemed to just wait on others doing the job they should have been doing. It’s not pretty, and it’s not entirely how you want football to be, but big games require hard challenges and not giving the opponents a second on the ball as often as possible. It gets the crowd going, and allows you to earn the right to play football as the game opens up. The fact that no player in the Rangers squad seemed to recognise we needed to do more early on was very worrying.
THE BLAME GAME
As you can see by the above, I’m already blaming both the manager and the players for the way things went. That seems pretty obvious in such a poor performance. However, everyone at the club who is involved in first team matters has to be held accountable for how things went. This wasn’t a one-off match where the team just didn’t show up. This has been seen in previous games. Every Rangers fan feared that sort of performance, and didn’t feel utterly surprised by it.
The board haven’t done enough when it comes to the role of manager since taking over the running of the club. Mark Warburton was a good appointment, but wasn’t backed in the way he should have been. It’s arguable it was correct not to, but it seemed to come more from a personal issue with Dave King than anything else. Pedro Caixinha was a risk that didn’t pay off, and a costly one at that. And the fact it was left to Murty to pick up the mess was even more of a risk, and a negligent decision in many ways. Everyone, from the board to the squad, are now in a place where they have to turn around negativity to be accepted by the fans.
I can’t find any sympathy for any player from yesterday. Many feel Halliday was hung out to dry, as they say, by Murty when taken off in the first half. I can understand that view, but I don’t agree with it. It was clear Rangers were getting nowhere and that the starting team was wrong. Halliday was offering nothing of note in any aspect of the match. Murty was right to change it early, whether that was 40 minutes or 45 minutes.
I do understand why Halliday was annoyed. I believe that anger should have been directed at himself more than anyone else.
We know what’s coming from the first team squad and management team. Little will be said most of the week, we’ll talk about having to react well, and we’ll hear that training has been good. It’s standard practice in a situation like this, and it’s understandable to an extent.
What we can’t have is a perception of nothing being done, though. The board have to give the fans something, be that an indication of who the next manager will be or even replacing Murty now to try and show that they’re taking the last 5 matches as seriously as they can. I hate suggesting that any Rangers manager should be sacked, and have some sympathy for Murty, but the fans have turned on him in a big way. If he’s in charge on Saturday against Hearts, when his name is announced before the game, I expect to hear some fans express real anger towards him.
I don’t think there’s anything major that can be done right now. That might have to come in the summer when real change is possible. It may be that one or two changes are enough to see real improvement, that remains to be seen. If the club are silent and it’s perceived they’re giving the fans no real consideration, it’s going to make things very difficult.
If you have any comments or feedack, tweet us @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to discuss!