Last season, after a poor start against Hamilton, we beat an in-form Queen of the South team 5-0 at Ibrox in the cup. It was seen as a sign that we were on the right track, that the league match was down to bad luck more than anything else. Obviously, we all know how that worked out.
Last night, we gave Dunfermline a real doing. We could have scored six goals in the first half-hour, never mind over the 90 minutes. New signings showed that they want to win in style. Given that they showed their battling qualities last weekend as well, it was different from the game recalled last season. This was a continuation of recent good results rather than the one we hoped would restore some confidence. The players were taking their opportunity to show the quality they have, rather than being inspired by a better performance.
First off, let’s talk a bit more about Daniel Candeias, shall we?
In our Man of the Match report, I mention just how much he’s going to be a fan favourite. It was discussed after the Motherwell match as well. Of everything Caixinha has said he’s asking for – passion, work rate, aggression going forward, a desire to win at all costs – Daniel Candeias is the embodiment of the lot. We know full well that a 29 year old winger who cost less than £1m isn’t a top class player, but we don’t demand that. What we sorely lacked last season was desire. We were a soft touch, too easily held back if teams made games difficult to play football in. We were happy with the excuse of “they didn’t come to play, it’s hard to break them down” instead of working towards other answers. In Candeias, you can see a player who would burn a litter of puppies if it meant he could get the three points. That sort of desire and work rate will make you a fan favourite regardless of ability, which he has shown to have enough of in any case.
Mentioning last season brings us to the player who looks to have taken the demands of Caixinha most to heart – Josh Windass.
We were 6-0 up and cruising last night. Windass had put in a shift, but not really done as much as he would have liked going forward. The left hand side was hampered by having two right-footed players in Hodson and Josh. He would have been desperate for a goal, and somewhat annoyed at his lack of chances. And yet, as the Dunfermline full-back raced forward very late into the game, Windass matched him stride for stride and blocked the cross. He could have easily cheated and just stayed forward, and I doubt the fans would have noticed. However, Windass was determined to show Caixinha that he isn’t going to shirk the defensive side of the game, and the fans loved every second of it. There were moments of lovely touches, good link up and forward threat, but on the night it didn’t come off. Instead of getting frustrated, he did his job and hoped the rest would follow. That’s the sort of development we didn’t see last season from any of our players. There was hard work, but it was done in ways which were about chasing glory rather than working hard for the team.
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As an aside – our centre halves could end up being spoken about in reverential hushed tones if they continue to improve as a partnership.
I have no issues with anyone who says “it was only Dunfermline”, as disrespectful to both sides as that can be. They did fall apart due to our quick start. However, any fan who writes this game off is denying themselves some real enjoyment, and missing how it fits in with our overall development.
What did you take from the performance last night? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!