It was an eventful, exciting match on Saturday against Motherwell. The result was a frustrating one for Rangers fans, but there’s no doubt it was a game that would have entertained any sort of neutral watching it. There’s a few things to discuss from it, so let’s have a look at the main topics.
Let’s be honest, Murty has been a talking point from the day he was given the role as Rangers manager. With his contract only lasting until the end of the season, the discussion has been even more prominent than it would have been had someone else been hired and given a few years. There would have been more patience for a new manager and some leeway afforded for poor results. Murty won’t receive this quite as much, for various reasons.
In previous weeks and articles, I’ve defended his team selections somewhat. I don’t believe we’ve had easy options to change things since the turn of the year. Important players have been injured, and we’ve even had a couple of knocks in defence which have forced changes there. For the last two matches, I believe he’s made some mistakes. Cummings should not have replaced Morelos for the Kilmarnock match. In this game, the midfield shape was exposed with Dorrans playing for the first time in 5 months.
Murty deserves some credit for the way the team responded in the second half. For the first time this year, I also believe he deserves a little criticism for not using available options more. It’s hard to say whether or not the likes of McCrorie and Goss were fully fit, but being on the bench suggests they could have played. In our win against Motherwell at Ibrox, we played the diamond 4-4-2 shape. That could have been a good option in his match, and may have prevented that first half malaise.
I’m aware that all of this is hindsight and largely uninformed. It’s just a fact, though, that Murty will dominate the conversations among Rangers fans from now until an announcement is made on who will be in the dugout for next season. This performance and result has seen many who were on the fence decide he’s not up to the job. Convincing those people otherwise is going to be very difficult.
THE CONTRIBUTION OF MORELOS
There’s a real focus on Morelos, as there would be on any Rangers striker. One issue right now is that he hasn’t scored in the last few matches, and results haven’t went our way. Any time he misses a decent chance, it becomes the thing which everyone talks about. The issue there is that it’s overshadowing his overall contribution.
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Morelos was really good in the second half against Motherwell. He caused their defence all sorts of problems, and won the physical battles. Even in the game against Celtic, where he missed an absolute sitter, his performance was good. There are better, more experienced forwards than him who miss great chances regularly, and contribute less to the team. Rangers have had plenty of them over the years.
I understand that strikers will be judged on goals. In this regard, he’s done ok this season. However, the difference between a good striker and a very good one is what they offer in the games where they don’t score. Morelos is doing very well for Rangers this season, and I’d hope everyone can see that.
THE CELTIC HANGOVER
The defeat to Celtic at Ibrox, and the nature of it, has certainly knocked the confidence in our team. There was little to laud in the Kilmarnock match, and it looked like we would be even worse against Motherwell after 45 minutes. The way the team responded second half was promising, but understandably not quite enough to allay the criticism in any way.
We’ve seen better, far more experienced Rangers squads take a few matches to get over a disappointing defeat. For many of our squad, this is the first real experience they’ve had of that scenario. Were there more natural leaders and winners in the dressing room, we would have seen a better reaction. Those are players who are very difficult to find these days, though.
What the players proved in the second half on Saturday was that they are capable of reacting, and of raising their level when up against it. The result doesn’t give the fans anything to find promise in, but the performance will hopefully see the players start to put recent disappointment behind them. They’ll have reminded themselves that they are capable, and push more towards that extra bit that’s required.
What were your thoughts after Saturday? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to discuss!