Rangers 1 v 5 Celtic

Plenty has been said about this game already. I want to discuss the reaction in greater depth, so another article is required for that.

It’s worth pointing out that many, many people felt the starting side was a good one, especially given the players available. We were only a few minutes into the game and we had done more going forward than the entire first half last weekend. However, we had the exact same issue as the start of the second half last weekend – we were pushing forward, we let them get in behind, and we gave away a penalty which completely killed our momentum. The tackle by Beerman was a stupid one, as Roberts was going nowhere, but it seemed that neither the referee nor the linesman could tell if the contact was inside or outside the box. The decision seemed to come from the fourth official, who must have had the worst view of the three, and many wondered if it was some sort of TV replay that was used. The penalty was scored, and seven minutes into the game we were 1-0 down and worse than that, the entire team looked like their heads went down. Myles Beerman, an eighteen-year-old left back who has played five first-team games, had absolutely no one go to him to support him, to give him a word of encouragement. That pretty much summed up the team, with no seeming fight or desire beyond Kenny Miller being annoyed at playing next to such a poor quality of player. That lack of heart also led to the second goal, with a poor attempt at winning a 50-50 by Hyndman leading to a break, and Griffiths smashing in the second.

That was only eighteen minutes into the game, and everyone in the stands knew it was all over. Rangers offered little more than giving away daft fouls as Celtic dominated the game and we chased shadows. The formation was sometimes difficult to work out, but that was largely down to how little some players were offering. Dodoo was offside more often than he touched the ball, it seemed. Any attacks were easily dealt with, and we played a lot of aimless long balls from the back which didn’t come off once. For five minutes, we had played a bit better than the cup semi-final – for the rest of the game, we were every bit as abject. We really should have been five down at half-time.

Many are pointing to the Scott Brown elbow on Miller, or the tackle by Simunovic, having a go at the referee for not getting out the red card, but I honestly think we’d have lost the game if they’d started with ten men. That’s the sort of gap that exists right now.

The second half was pretty much more of the same. They scored a mere seven minutes into that half as well. And Ibrox started to empty.

Anyone who was there or has read about the game will know I’ve missed out the various issues from the stands. Someone running on to the pitch, stuff being thrown from the stands when Celtic were celebrating their goals (yes, they were trying to wind us up, it’s sheer stupidity to fall for that), the picture that has been widely circulated, scarves thrown on to the pitch in the second half, a fan running across two sections of seats in the enclosure to scream at the bench when Celtic scored their fourth from a set piece – all of it was an indication of what I believe to the biggest problem the fans bring at the moment, and I’m not looking to sweep it away or ignore it, but I do feel it needs a wider discussion than simply saying it’s unacceptable, so I’ll look to do that in the next article.

We got a goal that even calling a consolation would be generous, with Miller slotting the ball home after our only good bit of football all game. We still managed to let in yet another after that, and let Celtic score five goals at Ibrox for the first time ever. I guess if that was every likely to happen, it was no more likely now than at any time in the past because we’ve never had a time where Celtic have been this much better than us on the park.

Elsewhere in the top six, Hearts and Partick Thistle drew 2-2, which now has Hearts six points behind St. Johnstone who managed a cracking 2-0 win away to Aberdeen. Had we somehow pulled a result out of the bag at the weekend, we may have been able to put some pressure on Aberdeen in second, but nine points and twenty-three goals in four games is far too big a gap to make up. We’re still six points ahead of St. Johnstone, so third is still looking pretty secure. We go away to Partick Thistle in the next game, with St. Johnstone away to Celtic and Hearts facing Aberdeen. You’d imagine the Perth side will lose, so a positive reaction in the next game should see us secure third and European football for next season.

We’ll play better in the remaining four games, but it looks a lot like the players have been told who will be staying or going, and they’re not motivated to put in the fight for a manager demanding everything from them. Both Caixinha and the board of directors have taken a hit in the past couple of weeks, and there are mistakes that have been made outside of those on the park, but this reaction has been driven by emotion rather than reason, and we need to look beyond a couple of horrendous losses to a team much stronger than we are to decide if things are moving in the correct direction or not.

Some of what has to be discussed is repeating stuff we’ve been talking about all season. Unfortunately, the need for reasoned debate is growing rather than becoming the norm. More on that to come…

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