Tonight, we face Hamilton on their plastic pitch in league game number eight. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a bigger match away to Hamilton at any time.

That’s not intended to be disrespectful to the South Lanarkshire club. We’ve played plenty of league and cup games against them, and had big results and humbling defeats. Their present squad is one of the more inconsistent sides in the league. They have players capable of hurting teams, but it’s not shown often enough over the course of a season.

But with everything going on at Rangers right now, tonight is huge.

Let’s have a look at Hamilton’s form of late:


Hibernian (away), 3-1 win
Kilmarnock (away), 2-2 draw
Celtic (home), 4-1 defeat
Hearts (home), 2-1 defeat
St Johnstone (away), 2-1 defeat

As said above, Hamilton have some capable players. Ali Crawford and Rakish Bingham are their biggest threats in an attacking sense. Greg Docherty started the season very well in midfield. Players like Donati and Imrie have good experience and can be very effective when they’re having a good game. On paper, many write off Hamilton as being relegation favourites this season, but performances have given the lie to that so far. Despite 3 defeats on the bounce, the games against Hearts and St Johnstone were ones they should have taken points from.

There’s always a lot of talk about the pitch at the SuperSeal stadium. I’ve played on it a couple of times in charity matches. For amateur cloggers like me, it’s a good park. For professional football, the preference would absolutely be a grass park. In an ideal world, that’s what Hamilton would use. However, Scottish football is miles away from ideal. It’s easy for bigger clubs to complain about this, but they don’t face the same financial difficulties which this type of pitch eases. Scottish football doesn’t provide enough for some clubs, so this is one of the side-effects.

For Rangers, we have a fair bit to discuss. The game after a defeat to Celtic can often be poor. There’s always talk of a reaction, but it’s not as easy to find as it is to say.

And tonight, it seems we’re going in with a few dressing room issues. Reports suggest that Kenny Miller has been asked to train with the youth players as punishment for something. Rumours of other players being unhappy have also been kicking around. Right now, we can’t say for certain if these are true, but both team selection and performance will be a huge indication of how things stand. An under-pressure foreign manager clashing with the most influential Scottish player in the squad will bring back memories of Le Guen for many. There are a few big differences to that situation, though.

Miller doesn’t hold the same standing with the fans as Ferguson did back then. If forced to choose, even fans who don’t rate Caixinha as a manager would fall on his side more often than not. If he’s being punished for leaking stories to the press, that will certainly turn many fans against him.

Le Guen didn’t have as many of “his” players in the dressing room as Caixinha does. Many of the Frenchman’s signings were made for him, with players brought in who he didn’t want at the club. Only Jeremy Clement would be seen as someone who would have fully backed him. Conversely, Pedro has a couple of players he’s worked with before, guys like Alves and Cardoso who came here because of him, and Peña as another who would fit that category. Morelos may be closer to Jonatan Johansson than anyone else. If the dressing room is split, and some are on the side of Miller, there’s far more Caixinha can turn to than Le Guen ever had.

And probably most importantly, Caixinha wants to be here. Le Guen had as good as chucked it by the point all of that kicked off. Pedro won’t back down from a fight, from all available evidence. If there are to be players looking to undermine him, I suspect it’ll be highlighted and met head on this time around.

So with everything that’s going on, what’s the team likely to be tonight? I think there will be only two changes from last weekend:






It’s harsh on McCrorie to be dropped, as such, but he has plenty of time to establish himself. Without Wallace, Miller and Kranjcar, the leadership of Alves is required.

I’m very hopeful that most of the above is seen as nonsense after tonight. For me, I’ll be looking at the performance more than the result. There’s been a number of games where it’s clear this side is working hard, but just lacks luck and quality at times. If we start slow, and don’t seem to be willing to get at Hamilton, I’ll be concerned. A lack of confidence is expected, but if the team truly wants to make up for recent results, I’d expect a fast start and chances to be created. We might not be great tonight, but we should expect to see at least some sort of fight if the dressing room is behind the manager.

This is why I haven’t picked out key battles for tonight. Rangers fans absolutely need to see a reaction from every player on the park.

In terms of a prediction, I really am torn. It’s a Friday night, on the plastic pitch away from home, and the build-up hasn’t been ideal. We haven’t done well in keeping clean sheets, and certainly miss more chances than we should. I’m going to go for a 2-1 win for Rangers, and hope for much better.

What are your thoughts on tonight? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to share!