Rangers win over Motherwell was a hard-fought victory in a scrappy game. There were a few things to be pleased about, but everything was overshadowed by the injury to Ryan Jack and the physical approach of Motherwell.
The most frustrating part of all of this was the fact that we knew they would play that way.
That’s now three games we’ve played against Motherwell this season where they’ve somehow finished with 11 men on the park despite clear challenges which deserved more punishment. Having seen them in a few other games this season, it seems that they like to play this way. However, the poor refereeing which is allowing them to go over the line against Rangers is a concern.
During the match, I had a debate with some friends as to how Rangers should deal with that. I’m of the opinion that right now, there’s little we can do. We’ve highlighted things in press conferences, we’ve made statements about refereeing and the compliance officer role, but things continue to be poor. We know we’ve benefited from a few decisions this season. Only the very biased could even suggest that the balance of good decisions against poor ones is close to even though. We now have Jack with a potentially serious injury and Dorrans out for months due to shocking challenges which didn’t even get yellow cards. There’s been decisions which have cost us points more than one and only one you could point to where luck was on our side and won us points.
As such, the feeling among Rangers fans is that the club need to be vocal about this. As said above, I’m not sure it will achieve much. The points Rangers made about the role of the compliance officer were spot on. They applied to more than just ourselves and it was a chance for Scottish football to review the whole process. Instead, what we got was the usual “sour grapes” accusation. Due to the feeling towards Rangers by most, we are never given fair consideration when we try to bring this up. In what could be deemed as an ad-hominem attack, anything Rangers say is taken out of context or ignored because it’s come from Rangers. You need a fair-minded media and referees willing to admit to mistakes for any sort of change to come from public statements, and we have neither.
Every club in the league will be able to point to a number of decisions which haven’t gone their way. It’s the nature of football, one of the many things that both infuriates and engages the fans. Rangers have some legitimate reasons for concern this season, though. As said above, we knew that Motherwell would try to play over the line with their approach. A physical team is something you can accept, but they go beyond that. In the games against Rangers, they haven’t been punished as they should have been.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
But to blame Rangers for that is very unfair. Our fans are suggesting that our seeming lack of comments isn’t managing the situation. That’s very much victim blaming in the case of a match where everyone was aware of how Motherwell would play. Rangers didn’t have to say a word about last night, the referee simply had to do his job. As we’ve seen in plenty of games in Scotland this season, that’s not something they do very consistently at the moment. Whilst Beaton was far better than he was in the game against Hibs, he didn’t do enough last night to protect the Rangers players.
Injuries and late challenges happen. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck. Given everything leading up to last night, though, the Jack injury can’t be brushed off as one of those things. That challenge should at least be cited by the compliance officer because you can be sure it would have been were it the other way around.
Aside from the controversy surrounding the challenges, the game itself was one where Rangers stood up more than they have in recent weeks. With all the players unavailable on both sides, it was never likely to be pretty. What was clear, though, was some fight in the Rangers team. All the stoppages in the first half killed the game but in the second half there was nice football played for periods and only the Motherwell goalkeeper kept the score from being comprehensive. Motherwell only managed one shot on target the whole night and that came in the first minute.
It’s fair to point out the recent poor form of Motherwell, but they’re a difficult team to beat when they’re allowed to play as they did. Rangers fans should take some joy out of the result and some of the performances on show.
And so we build up to Saturday, the trip to Parkhead. We sit 11 points off Celtic and 3 behind Aberdeen going into the match. A result of some sort feels necessary, yet would also be deemed unlikely right now. Celtic have reacted well to their defeat against Hearts with three wins in a row and no goals conceded. Rangers will need to be at their best to get anything from that match.
What was your thoughts on the Motherwell game? Tweet us about that or anything else @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to discuss!