5 to Follow - Motherwell vs Rangers

Sunday will see Steven Gerrard take his Rangers on the short trip to Lanarkshire to face Motherwell in another lunchtime ko. 

Following on from Thursday nights 1-0 victory over Ufa, confidence will be at an all time high. Let's not forget just how we have come in such a short space of time.

 
Here are the five storylines to follow vs Motherwell:


1 - BOUNTY GATE

Motherwell captain Peter Hartley has had plenty to say in the lead up to this match, not for the first time I may add. Talking about how much fun it was to watch Fabio Cardoso "weeping" after breaking his nose in last seasons league cup semi-final. 

You only have to look at his comments before that particular game at Hampden as evidence and proof that this is something far more sinister and premeditated than he would now like us all now to believe. 

Clearly this is a tactic that stems from the management team, of that there can be no question whatsoever. We know Motherwell are hatchet men and hammer throwers, but serious questions must be directed at Stephen Robinson and his coaching staff as to just what they are saying or instructing their players to do. 

Now, anyone who knows me will know I am a big follower of the NFL, just a few years ago in fact we seen coaches and players there be issued with suspensions for up to a year, for exactly this type of thing, activity seeking to injure an opponent.

We all know teams can get physical and certainly I have no issues at all with that, but to publicly state it, and on more than one occasion crosses the line. 
I await like I'm sure many if you do with bated breath to see what charges are brought against the player or club in question, this is a great chance for the new compliance officer to show what she is made of, set the tone if you will. 

2 - CPT FANTASTIC

James Tavernier has I think proved all his critics wrong so far this season, not just in his attacking displays (another THREE assists last Sunday) but in improving his sometimes lapse defensive positioning and awareness.

A strange choice for captain maybe due to Tav not being the so called traditional model, the all shouting and screaming type, blood soaked headband, there can be no question he has simply grew into the role and embraced it. 
I personally believe the reason for him being handed the honour of the armband was down to the sheer fact of his popularity in the changing room, his ability to interact with all his teammates and on the same level welcome any new one that may enter, aiding in the settling in period. 

Full disclosure, I was one of the people who might have been tempted to cash in on him last summer, now it would take a offer north in the region of 7 million before l would place any such move under serious consideration. Tav has become a key player not only on the field but off it as well. 
 
Keep up the good work. 

3 - SLOW OFF THE BLOCK

If there is one thing that has concerned me slightly in recent weeks it's the way and manner we have started games. Clearly it is something that has concerned the manger as well as he has said publicity the players shouldn't have to wait until half time to be given a talking to. 

We seen it on Thursday night again, the second half was a far better showing than the first. We played the game with a higher tempo, and all around greater sense of urgency than the previous 45 minutes. Its become something of a pattern and one that we will have to guard against going forward. 

I don't see any reason why we can't or shouldn't be capable of starting the first half like we do the second. Don't wait on the manager to give you a dressing down at half time, go out and take the game to them right from the off. 

4 - START FOR LAFFERTY?

This is a game and a match that is quite simply made for Lafferty. The big man will be fresh and raring to go after coming off the bench in the last match, the big question in my eyes is just where exactly he will play. Could we see both him and Morelos start up front together ?. This is a partnership that should have no trouble at all getting goals at this level. Despite the language barrier (none of them speaking English). 

I've previously stated how I wasn't fully onboard with the transfer, but I'll be honest I have been won around, something to do with a game a few weeks back, now if Lafferty can play anywhere near the level he is capable of he will be an asset, he just needs to add that level of consistany to his game. Morelos and him will be a handful for any defence, two players who will not shy away from challenges or battles, link up play will be key as well as holding the ball up at stages. 

5 - ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET PLEASE. 

In the preview before Thursdays match I described the back line as the Bermuda triangle, yet again nothing got past them, more of the same will do just nicely on Sunday. The clean sheet record when the 3 of McGregor, Goldson and Katic play continues on. 

In all fairness McGregor was only called upon once or twice, that is down to the play all the way from Morelos to Arfield, Jack and of course the players in the backline. What we have become is a far better side all around defensively, that comes from hours of work on the training ground, showing just why coaching matters so much at this or any level. 

How we defend set plays will go along way in dictating the result in this game, we know Motherwell will try to exploit these situations to their advantage, as they have in previous meetings. What we have now is players who are more than happy to sit, soak up and defend when the game calls for it, smart football if you will. The gaps that were clear last season, both in our play and personnel have been all but eradicated. 

Just look at the start we have had this season, and how well the team have played. 3 more points and onto Russia and Parkhead will do just nicely. 

PREDICTION 

HAMMER THROWERS 0 - 2 RANGERS

EJARIA MOTM, LAFFERTY 1ST GOAL.

As always get in touch, give me your predictions and MOTM.

Thanks,

Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published