I guess, if we’re going to have a sh*t season, it’s not surprising that our 26 year record of not losing to Aberdeen at Ibrox had to come to an end in this game. In truth, of all of those games over the years, this was the one you’d expect to lose, given the team we started the game with, the lack of experience and ability in our squad in general, and the fact that many of our players have switched off and are already looking to the future. Aberdeen were certainly the better team on the night, as they have been pretty much over the course of the season.
Due to an injury to Clint Hill, we started the game with a young debutant in Aidan Wilson, and after a few minutes, it was clear he wasn’t going to be phased by the game at all. Bates has had the advantage of having an experienced defender next to him to talk him through the game, but watching Wilson last night, it’s possible he’s the better of the two defenders overall or will be as their careers develop.
The game started scrappily, with neither team doing very much on the ball, but after nine minutes Rangers conceded a sloppy goal. Toral came short to take the ball from Foderingham, but Aberdeen pressed well and forced him into a backpass. Foderingham’s clearance wasn’t great, Tavernier headed it into the feet to Shinnie, and he rode two poor challenges, drove into the box and slotted it home. The celebrations of the Aberdeen players, right in front of where I sit, showed how much they wanted a result.
As if to just highlight how little experience we had in the team, we lost Hodson to injury after 18 minutes and he was replaced by Beerman.
After that, the pattern of the game was us struggling to create much, and Aberdeen having plenty of the ball and some opportunities, one which Foderingham made a great save with his feet for, and a load of shots from distance. Our best chances both fell to Garner, one from a great bit of determination from Miller who won the ball a few times and squared it to Garner who shot wide, and one from a McKay corner with a header at the near post. We had a couple of shots from distance, one from McKay was a half chance at best, and if Windass had been able to take a good touch he would have been through, but if we’re honest, we deserved to go in trailing at halftime.
We had seen Waghorn out warming up a few times before the end of the half, and that signalled his inclusion at halftime, coming on for Dodoo who had offered nothing. Unfortunately, Aberdeen started the half much quicker than us, and the inexperience in defence showed a few times as we struggled to clear our lines before we conceded the second on 51 minutes. An overhit cross by McGinn wasn’t dealt with well by Beerman at the back post, and was played back across for Christie to head home from six yards. 2-0 down, and we all pretty much knew we wouldn’t turn that around.
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We seemed to show more fight and competitive spirit at two down, and we started to create some decent chances – a cracking bit of work by Beerman on the left led to a cross for Waghorn which was well defended. We also saw another example of how Pedro manages the team, as a mistake from Toral (he had a poor night, and he’s a player I think has done well for us overall) led to him being substituted pretty much straight away for Barjonas on 58 minutes. We got our goal from some direct play and pressure, with Windass picking the ball up in the centre, going on a good run which led to him slipping through Waghorn, who chipped the on-rushing keeper really well to make it 2-1 on 61 minutes. Ibrox woke up, and the noise ramped up, even through some poor crosses and set pieces as we pushed for an equaliser.
Our play was scrappy though, with a lot of long balls and not many second balls being won. We had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals for players being blocked or barged when attacking a header, but our best chance to score came late in the game from a McKay cross which Bates tried to header, and ball fell very close to Windass who didn’t seem to read it for what would have been a tap-in.
Aberdeen were better in possession, had more chances, and deserved to win the game. We started with a central defence which, in combined age, is the same age as Clint Hill, and ended the game with Beerman and Barjonas on the park as well. All four of the younger players did fine in terms of performances. In terms of experience and ability, last night may be the weakest Rangers team we’ve ever seen at this level, and that is worth bearing in mind when it comes to your expectations and judgements. I agree that Pedro has made mistakes, but any manager we have will do that in some ways. The games in the league so far under Caixinha have been largely meaningless – we’ve got into the Europa League qualifiers and we’ll be looking to rip the squad up and bring in better players. That’s when Caixinha can be truly judged. We look set to go into Sunday with a team of youngsters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost that game as well, but this season is now pretty much done, which is what we all wanted. It’s time to look forward, give our manager the sort of clean slate he deserves, and let him show us if he is the right man for the job. If performances and results are still poor when we’re able to play a stronger team with more experience, then we can question it all with some validity.
Line up and ratings:
Foderingham – 7
Tavernier – 6
Bates – 6
Wilson – 6
Hodson – 2 (Beerman, 19′ – 6)
Toral – 4 (Barjonas, 58′ – 5)
Windass – 5
Miller – 6
McKay – 5
Garner – 5
Dodoo – 4 (Waghorn, 45′ – 6)
Subs not used:
Have I been generous with some of the ratings? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!