In all my time going to games at Ibrox, I’m not sure I can remember the man of the match announcement not being made. On Saturday, such was the feeling in the stadium, there was no award made. As such, it’s not easy to come up with one for this article. In my opinion, there were only two players who could have claimed to have done decently for Rangers on the day.
The first of those was James Tavernier. He was unlucky not to have a couple of assists from crosses, and linked up well with Candeias. In the second half, as most players let their head go down, Tavernier kept trying to drive the team forward. He’ll have been frustrated not to have been able to contribute more.
When Tavernier was signed by Warburton, he was brought in as a player who would improve over a few seasons and most likely be sold on. Some fans aren’t convinced by him, but there’s no doubt he’s improved in his time at Rangers. He could be the right back for a few seasons yet if he wants to be.
My man of the match, though, was Josh Windass. This will no doubt cause a good few to wonder if I’ve went a bit crazy. When Windass was substituted late in the game, there were some who booed him. However, the only part of the match where Rangers played well was in the first half. In that half, Windass was clearly our most effective attacking player.
His movement from left wing caused the Hamilton defence some problems a good few times. His crossing should have led to a couple of goals. A through ball to Morelos in the first half showed he could find a pass as well. Windass comes in for a lot of criticism, but most of that seems to be based around attributes attacking players are rarely known for. He’ll be berated for not winning tackles or tracking runners. When you have a closer look at his attacking contribution, though, he’s a big player for us. He is given the freedom to get involved all over the pitch. He’s had more shots on goal than any player in our squad so far this season. His contribution to attacks that lead to a chance is very high. For all the criticism he takes, there’s been definite progression from him.
I understand why he gets criticised sometimes, and the doubts about his mentality. I was very much of the opinion he offered nothing earlier in the season. However, a deeper look at his contribution does show his influence. We also have to be aware that we’ll have players like this more often now, as we can’t sign finished articles. In previous years, a player like Windass would be allowed to develop next to better players and be less relied upon. In this squad, he’s a clear focal point, and that transfers to the stands. He’s still inconsistent and learning how to give that 7 out of 10 performance more often than not. If we’re going to have a squad made up of a number of players like that, we have to expect the odd game like Saturday, sadly.
In truth, there was no real man of the match in many respects. If the game had ended at 45 minutes though, Windass would have been a clear choice.