It’s hard to put into words just how angry I am about this game, and how it feels like the absolute nadir of what has been a woeful run of performances and results in Scotland for our club. The pain of missing out on a Scottish Cup semi final still lingered in the atmosphere as an expectant crowd watched as take on bottom side Hamilton in a game that I think every one of us expected would be a routine win and an opportunity to get that winning feeling back. What transpired was something that was quite simply indefensible.
The first half was one that we dominated in terms of chances created and we had a spell of between 5-10 minutes where our football was looking easy on the eye. But the lingering doubt on what the outcome would be remained given that we could not find that important opening goal. Half time came and there was disappointment but not necessarily anger, not just yet. The second half was a shambles across the board. There was no urgency, there was no heart, there was no feeling that this team would actually be able to find a way to make the breakthrough. And then it happened. A calamity of errors at the back allowed Accies to take a shock lead and set the home support on a course for sheer rage if they could not find an equaliser.
The reaction? Hap-hazard substitutions. Square begs in round holes. A case of “hope” rather than “expectation” from both players and staff alike. We all knew what was going to happen. We all knew that this was going to be yet another game that we would have to look back on and say “what on earth is going on with this team right now?” For me, I think the players are too weak minded to be a success for this club. They are clearly talented, our upcoming game against Bayer Leverkusen is testament to that, but they can’t seem to bring themselves to gear up for a different kind of challenge where they are the superior team and that trying to counter attack is not going to be as straight forward as what your games v Porto and Feyenoord would suggest. And the sad fact is, no one can see the management team shaking things up and putting the favoured personal under more pressure to bring themselves to that level. Which is part of the criticism of the gaffer and his staff as well.
As a fan base, once again, you have voted in your numbers to make clear your views on who in particular stood out as being a player playing well below the standard that would be deemed acceptable. Couch hiding was last time, some players will need to hide behind an entire house this time…
Allan McGregor – 6.1 (6) – Man of the Match
We cannot blame McGregor for the goal conceded. It’s something that he has very little time to react to and in all fairness, he was probably as baffled as the rest of us as to what was going on in front of him. And let’s face it, he makes a very good save late on to prevent the scoreboard looking even more embarrassing for us. He is a reliable presence in the area, despite the lack of coming off his line flaws, and the booking he received is just an example of the arrogance that referee’s in this country have. We cannot blame McGregor for the run of terrible form we have been on. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for him, we could well be on a worse points tally as we are at the moment. I’m not sure that when the whole team is struggling as much right now, as we are, that the form of our experienced stopper is something to hang our hopes on though.
James Tavernier – 1.9 (2)
Remarkably, this is exactly the same score from the cup game for Tavernier. This is the wrong kind of consistency to say the least, but this low rating is once again absolutely justified due to his severe lack of leadership and his crossing ability completely deserting him. We should, in this context, only focus on the on field part of Tavernier rather than the pre match comments in the match programme. Although the fact that he said what he said gives us all a proper insight into why we are not seeing the type of captaincy on the park from him than we maybe would from a Richard Gough or a Terry Butcher. These are men who would be gushing blood from their forehead and demand to play on. The way Tav has been lately, you could see him wanting subbed off with a paper cut. Now, he did get subbed off in this game late on, and I don’t think we can say in all honesty that this was him making anything up, but again, the fact that people had that on their minds tells it’s own story. When he plays badly he looks dreadful, and with each passing game it seems harder to find a time when he will regain that form. And that has a detrimental affect on the team. He will not survive the summer with us if he doesn’t find that improvement soon. And even if he does, I think a good number of fans would rather see him gone come the summer.
Connor Goldson – 1.8 (2)
What on earth was he thinking? To mess about with the ball in that area of the park when the game is in the balance is unforgivable, and yet the manager is less inclined to hope for Helander to come back as what he was following the St Johstone game. It really doesn’t matter what else you have done in a game, to make such a monumental error that costs us a game, you will only be remembered for that moment. In any case I don’t remember him doing anything particularly positive either. Short passing along the back, any long passes didn’t really do anything positive, and he cannot seem to head the ball from an attacking corner properly. His place from the start never seems in jeopardy, but if you take his last 3, 4, 5 domestic games into account, then he does not deserve to keep his place.
George Edmundson – 4.4 (4)
I actually feel a bit sorry for Edmundson. He came in and absolutely owned the game in Braga, but the last two games have been a massive wake up call for him. And for someone who has not experienced that kind of pressure before, it must be a real challenge for him mentally. He has the good grace to at least applaud the supporters at full time, knowing full well the abuse he will receive in return, but he is the only one who doesn’t hide in that respect. He wasn’t the cause of our issues in this game, it was a better performance than Tynecastle, but he does have a bad habit of being too rash with his passing and as a result putting teammates under unnecessary pressure. He needs experience, and this is one hell of a lesson for him right now. Let’s see if he has the guts to stick at it.
Borna Barisic – 4.7 (5)
The crosses from Barisic look good, and he was unlucky not to have an assist or two to his name with some of them. And the good thing about the way Borna plays is he does think about what type of ball to play, whether it be a whip or a simple pass back. Nevertheless, I would like more from Borna in regards to taking a shot on. Cut inside and test the keeper, I could see him grabbing a few more goals from that route. This would be particularly useful when we have forwards who are not going to have joy in winning aerial duels against tall centre backs. Crossing to players like Defoe is not the best course of action! I’m also noticing his corners becoming less and less affective, although I’m not sure whether that is down to him or the people getting on the end of those crosses.
Glen Kamara – 3.3 (4)
A second holding midfielder against the bottom side in the league feels like a bit of a “riddy” if I’m being honest. And as we have seen many a time before, Glen Kamara does not perform in these kinds of games. And given that the whole team seem to suffer a similar kind of issue at the moment, the fact he was brought in feels annoyingly typical. He biggest strength is winning the ball on the deck, I never have too many doubts that he will do that job all day, but it’s how he uses it afterward that is just so incredibly frustrating. No consistent Rangers midfielder’s passing should be as streaky as what his is, and his exit from the game in the second half felt like the correct call, he had zero positive impact. His jacket in the dressing room feels like its on an incredibly shoogly peg.
Steven Davis – 3.5 (4)
Ever so slightly better, mainly down to energy and vibrancy, than last time out but still not making any kind of positive impact. The diagonal balls have just disappeared, almost to the point where you wonder if this is a tactical request, and (again) our opposition break on us and he feels too far behind the play to sort it out which, given his position on the field, he absolutely should be. And in front of goal he has a glorious chance that he cannot put away, his reaction to which was one of a man who knew he wasn’t going to score it anyway. Not much more I can add that hasn’t been said previously regarding this Davo slump. Fix it Davis.
Joe Aribo – 4.7 (6)
I was noticing that Aribo was playing more as a number 10 rather than what I thought he would do, the left of the typical midfield three, and he was making good runs into more advanced positions. That feels like a better role for Aribo, possibly the best given his off the ball running, but he needs to find the balance between that and hiding, as sometimes it looked like he was desperate to not receive the ball. When he did collect possession, I thought he looked sharp and keen to make a difference and create opportunities. I would like Gerrard to persist with him playing that kind of role, in other words the role that Arfield was playing pre injury, although you would be fair in asking whether Arfield’s “Duracell Bunny” attitude to that role would suit better than Aribo’s….“chilled” style.
Ianis Hagi – 4.9 (6)
We have voted for Ianis Hagi as being the best outfield player for us in this game. I think this is fair because, like Aribo, he was looking to create decent chances, but I would now like to see him doing so from a more central area of the park. Playing on the right hand side of the front three (and no, it’s not “2 number 10’s”, those players start too wide for that to be the honest truth) is not conducive to his best game. I honestly think you get a lot more out of your attacking play if you switch the roles that Hagi and Aribo play. But you just know that this will not be something that Gerrard will want to try. However, all of that being said, the fact the he is consistently playing and we are playing as we are will put serious doubt on whether Ianis Hagi will stay at the club beyond this season. And this will make me incredibly sad that we would miss out on something really special long term for the sake of ignorance.
Alfredo Morelos – 3.7 (4)
A player who had a lot to make up to the fans, and this would have been an occasion where a goal celebration where he apologised to the support would have been appropriate as opposed to Young Boys, but despite having a couple of good chances in the box that could have gone in, the rest of his game had the same continuous lack of form that has hampered Morelos since 2020. As a support we can forgive bad luck, absolutely, and the crossbar hit was desperately unlucky. But the other side of it, the heavy legs, the heavy head, it’s all adding up to a player who is in a hole that he cannot get out of. And a lot of that is of his own making, and that is why the fans are getting more frustrated with him, and why his name is not cheered as loudly by the fans pre game when it is announced. He is capable of finding that again, but at this stage it feels more “if” than “when” that will happen.
Florian Kamberi – 4.2 (5)
Fans saw Morelos and Kamberi in the same line up and immediately thought “TWO UP TOP, YAS!” But far too many of us saw through that and knew that Kamberi would start on the left. I thought he looked ok, the same level of demanding of the ball as before, taking ownership of what he needs to contribute to the team. But I think the initial pleasantness of him being a different dynamic in the attack has now faded, and we need to see more consistent end product. He should be scoring goals in games like this, he failed to do so in the 65 minutes he was on the park. Or maybe, at the moment, he is a better option from the bench? That’s when he has been at his best.
Ryan Kent – 2.8 (4)
He comes on for Kamara and plays in a number of different positions on the park but one thing stayed the same, his crossing was terrible. Pretty much every single time it would hit the first man, and when he would dribble past a player and get into the box, which he did a couple of times, he looked like a rabbit in the headlights and totally unaware of what he should do, almost afraid to make a mistake due to the reaction it would receive. That feels incredibly worrying.
Jermain Defoe – 2.5 (4)
In search of a goal, it makes sense to bring on Defoe as the guy can score in the area from almost any kind of chance. He did not get a sniff though, more down to the opportunities presented in fairness, but even he looked like a player who was worried about the reaction to what would be an embarrassing defeat.
Brandon Barker – 1.7 (4)
This sub probably pushed a number of fans over the edge, one of the most ineffectual players that we have had this season coming on and any sense of tactical balance just went out of the window. He at least looked like he wanted to try and redress the balance, but the lack of quality told in the end and he was in the end just another part of what was a truly woeful night for our team.