The Rangers performance on Saturday was one of attitude rather than ability. In many games over a season, teams will struggle to play their best and grind out results. As such, there weren’t many good performers on the day, but I’ve picked out three who would have been man of the match candidates.
The first was Daniel Candeias. His first half was poor, as it was for all of the attacking players. A lot of decent crosses wouldn’t find anyone in the box, and he cut a frustrated figure as passes went astray. In the second half, however, his game improved dramatically. The change in formation allowed players more room, and he used it well as he got into great positions. There were more than a few lovely touches to beat his man, one of which led to the free kick and winning goal. He also showed composure to set up Morelos for the equalising goal. Considering his annoyance in the first half, it’s a real testament to both his attitude and confidence that he could do so well in the second period.
Another player who had a great second half after a frustrating first was Jason Holt. Aside from one cutback for Miller, his play going forward was very loose, and led to good positions breaking down. Without the spaces to run into which he finds so well, he was unable to influence the game much. The second half saw all of that change. He was excellent both defensively and going forward, opening up gaps for runners and ably assisting his midfield partner. When you consider he was playing next to McCrorie, and later Barjonas, and is the experienced midfielder, the added pressure is something he’s dealt with well. I was very critical of his first half performance during the game, but there’s no doubt he was a huge part of the reason Rangers won.
For me, though, the clear man of the match was Ross McCrorie. He won the ball constantly when tracking back, found some good passes going forward, and never looked under any real pressure. He took a knock in the first half which he played through, but was forced off injured in the second half. McCrorie has a good turn of pace and strength, and will win the ball at times when you think the only way to do so is by fouling the player. He offers real protection to the centre halves, and given his relative inexperience, his composure is excellent. Only a last ditch tackle prevented an excellent through ball from sending Windass clear.
It’s testament to his ability and performance that his injury has the fans worried about him playing on Wednesday night. A 19 year old player seemingly playing out of position is already one of our most important players. McCrorie seems to be improving at a very fast rate, and will be a stick-on for young player of the year if he avoids injury. On a day when most Rangers players struggled for their best form, he was a shining light.
Who was your man of the match? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!