Rangers v Hamilton Accies
19th March 2017
“I want the team to play like they are kids!”
New boss Pedro Caixinha’s words to a packed press conference at Ibrox early evening yesterday. Having watched his inherited squad apply their new manager’s tactics and ethos to a tee, his only concern would have been that we only managed the four goals? I’m sure though prior to kick off he’d have it the hand off of you for a winning start whatever the score.
I’d love to tell you how Rangers lined up tactically, but in truth, the movement was so good middle to front with people switching positions, covering each other, chasing down the ball, Rangers deployed differing tactical formations which appeared to change with every attack….and they did it with ease too. 4-1-3-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 where all evident from the get go with the only constant Hill and Wilson at the centre of defence and on loan Arsenal Spanish midfielder Jon Toral sitting deep or central in the midfield. Lee Hodson made way at right back for the rejuvenated James Tavernier, yesterday’s man of the match for many such was his attacking display. Run after run up the right, sometimes cutting inside, always finding a blue jersey and causing the Accies problem after problem.
At times the forward play was so slick and quick, certainly seemed more urgency about the players than in the final months of Warburton’s reign, but then you’d hoped to have expected from of a group of players fighting for their futures under new management. A spread of goals (two in each half) saw Emerson Hyndman and Clint Hill score before half-time before a Martyn Waghorn penalty and brilliantly worked goal from captain Lee Wallace added sheen to the scoreline. As previously mentioned, it could have been a lot more. If all eyes were on what Caixinha would do there was also some intrigue in the Hamilton team selection. Boss Martin Canning had been highly critical of strikers Rakish Bingham and Eamon Brophy after of last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by Hearts.
So, the breakthrough came through a move down the other flank. Tavernier played a quick one-two with Miller which took him towards the byline from where he directed a low ball towards the near post. Hyndman and Waghorn were waiting to pounce, with the American getting there first. There was a flicker of threat from Hamilton in response but neither Ali Crawford’ s overhead kick nor Dougie Imrie’s highly-speculative shot from halfway ever looked likely to beat Wes Foderingham.
Clint Hill grabbed the glory at Celtic Park a week ago and netted from a very similar position to put the game to bed. The Englishman wanted to add to (a now) three-game scoring run with a goal against the Accies and got his wish as he latched onto the end of a Toral free-kick at the back post to side-foot home. Tavernier had a go from a free-kick before Rangers extended the lead further, his free-kick grazing the top of the net before a penalty-kick award allowed Waghorn to hit the target. Hamilton complained obviously, Rangers’ number 33 gave his team the lead in the cup here a fortnight previously but this was a straightforward call for Don Robertson as Massimo Donati clipped the scorer as he worked an angle for a shot.
After a simple conversion, Rangers had the three-goal cushion that allowed Caixinha to try out something different with Joe Garner joining the attack – his first appearance since scoring a hat-trick last time out. Garner wouldn’t find the net but there was a deserved goal for skipper Lee Wallace who capitalised on some excellent football between Miller and Waggy to smash a fierce drive past Woods from a difficult angle.
The media will tell stories of a poor Hamilton side duly skelped, ever eager to detract from the praise Rangers deserve in these circumstances, much like last Sunday. In truth, it looks like the players have bought into new manager Caixinha’s masterplan….from the outset anyway. Tougher tests are to come obviously and we’ll see the real metal of this side at Hampden, Pittodrie and the like over the coming weeks and months. For now though, let’s celebrate a truly wonderful display by a rampant Rangers side and hope it’s the start of things to come. After so many false dawns maybe this is our time again….in Pedro we trust.