The Rangers win and performance against Dundee told very different stories. A four goal win suggests a strong day, but the nature of the game wasn’t reflective of the scoreline. There were a few in blue who struggled, and some who may have put themselves into contention for upcoming matches. Here are the main talking points from the game.
Pretty much no one predicted that Kenny Miller would be the player to replace Josh Windass for this match. It was also a surprise to see McCrorie play next to Martin rather than Alves. Murty could point to how the game ended up as justification for his choices. For many fans, though, that won’t be enough. For large spells, Dundee dominated possession and found it easy to knock the ball around. Rangers struggled to press them into mistakes until after the second goal. A lot of loose passes in midfield led to problems, especially in the first half. Yet again, it seemed our shape wasn’t able to bring out the best in the players for this match.
As said, when you win 4-0, it’s hard to have too many complaints. What is clear, though, is that Rangers will need to be better in upcoming matches if they want to win.
By playing McCrorie next to Martin, Graeme Murty selected the 10th central defensive partnership of the season for Rangers. Both players performed OK, but Moussa was able to cause them issues more than once, and really should have scored. Given it was McCrorie’s first game in a few months, it was interesting that he partnered Martin rather than Alves, a player he’s played next to before. It would seem that Murty prefers those players to Alves, and it’s not the first time this season we’ve seen a young defender oust the Portuguese international to the bench. It was the first clean sheet in 6 matches, so something went right. However, this season has largely been summed up by the amount of changes we’ve seen in central defence.
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Before Saturday, no one would have thought Kenny Miller or Andy Halliday had any real chance of playing in the semi-final on the 15th. Both had decent performances against Dundee, though. Halliday done well from the bench, and added more composure in midfield than we’d shown up until then. Miller got a goal, should have scored one or two more, and grew into the match. Both players will hope to have put themselves in the frame to start against Celtic.
There’s also the dilemma of the shape to start the match with. Many would expect McCrorie to step into midfield, and the team to line up in a 4-3-3. There may be a fear that this could leave the striker, almost certainly Morelos, rather exposed. It may also be the case that Murty thinks McCrorie has more to offer in this match playing at centre half. As the manager pointed out, tactical decisions are key, but not as important as performances overall. Regardless of how he decides to play it, Murty needs the players to perform to get anything from the game.
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We expect referees to make mistakes. Probably more so in Scotland than anywhere else in truth. What will always wind up fans are mistakes there are no justifications for. In the first half, Dundee won a free kick after the referee played advantage. He allowed a Dundee player to take a touch, and have a shot blocked, before calling the play back. Mere minutes later, Docherty was wiped out by a Dundee player, and Miller had a shot blocked just afterwards. The referee gave a corner. It was a moment of inconsistency, and he had a few during the match.
Without doubt the biggest talking point was the booking for Morelos for simulation. The player was through on goal, Rangers were 3-0 ahead, and the goalkeeper had to be substituted due to the contact in the incident. Even if the referee believed it wasn’t a penalty, it was clear it wasn’t a dive either. It didn’t have to be an “either or” situation. That booking now sees Morelos suspended for the first match after the split, and can’t be appealed.
Graeme Murty expressed his frustration with the referee after the match. Neil McCann was also critical of some of the decisions. It wasn’t a good day for the referee overall, and that’s something that’s been said of referees in Rangers matches this season far, far too often.
Anything you feel we’ve missed out, or would like to discuss? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!