Rangers travelled to Hampden for our League Cup semi final tie against Hibs in a game that had such a different build up to what we thought it would be only a couple of weeks ago. Since our last game, our manager departed for the prospect of managing in the Premier League, taking the vast majority of his coaching staff with him. And we appointed his successor, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who was in attendance at the national stadium to watch his team, guided by coaches from the B team, look to make it to a cup final, something we failed to do last season. Indeed, the performances in the cups from the previous campaign were a blot on what was a historic season and something fans were really keen to see be improved this season. We were all aware that the team would set up the same as what it did prior to the change in the dugout, and credit to the gaffer not looking to disrupt the teams preparation for this game. What was to follow was an utterly weak, passive and unacceptable display from any Rangers team.
There is absolutely no excuse for the team to perform like they did. Habits of conceding the first goal as well as conceding from a set piece have not departed for Birmingham, as demonstrated by the first goal which was not defended at all well. The team have been able to show good fight in coming back from a deficit, but to concede a second goal not long after was disgraceful, as it was easy for the Hibs forward to get passed his man and hit a shot into the opposite corner, a goal that would have been dealt with last season. Our attempts to get a goal back were poor, and this allowed the Edinburgh side to further their advantage after a penalty was awarded which, although many fans would claim this to be soft, is one I would be shouting for if the roles were reversed. This was calmly slotted home, and despite us getting a goal back almost immediately after actually doing some proper forward pressing, we went into the break 3-1 down. The second half was just such a disappointing affair. Our goalkeeper was not really tested, thankfully, but we did not force theirs into any big save, with the biggest goal threat coming from a pass back which he knocked onto his own post. Chances in the area were hit high, and there was zero forward invention on display, whether it be from players who started the game or from those who were brought on in the second half, the decisions of which were met by total confusion from the Rangers fans in attendance. It was a simple win for Jack Ross’ side who will now contest the final next month, whilst we can only now look ahead to a fresh look to our side under Gio. The players who featured on Sunday had the chance to show their new boss what they are about. They let themselves down in that respect, and they let us down with that shocking display.
Here is how you rated our players from our League Cup semi final defeat.
Allan McGregor – 3.1 (3)
I am becoming quite worried about the drop off in form from McGregor. I feel like he would be able to prevent one, maybe two, of the goals we lose if he was at the level of form from last season. The second goal in particular is such a strange one, you can envisage him getting a hand to it. You wonder how much longer his poor run can go before we see far less of him in the side. Are we at getting a lot closer to the end of his playing career now?
James Tavernier – 2.6 (3)
A nightmare from a defensive point of view, what he is doing for the first goal I’ve no idea but that’s not acceptable at any level for a defender, which we have to remember that he is. Offered no bite going forward, and it was another game where you would only know he was captain as he was wearing the armband. As someone who showed good leadership in the build up to this game, he really didn’t show any of it on the field.
Connor Goldson – 2.6 (3)
Both of our centre backs were a disaster here, Goldson was both during the game and afterward. He was not dominant in the air at all, he looked panicked when Hibs were attacking, and he had zero composure up front. To admit after the match that you felt the game was gone at half time, that sort of attitude is not befitting of a Rangers player, and the appetite for him signing a new contract seems to have now swung as far as the fans are concerned. He is not currently playing like someone who has earned a new deal.
Leon Balogun – 2.3 (3)
For a player who was so good for a spell this season, this was so unexpected for him to be this bad. I think of the second goal in particular, in a situation that he should be able to show himself up well for. In a race against Boyle, who in fairness is one of the fastest players in the country, he just looks to have given up far too soon and it’s easy for the Hibs player to hit in his second. He offered no imposing presence at the back, and seemed to pick up a knock in the second half which forced him off. Desperately disappointing from him.
Borna Barisic – 3.1 (3)
It seemed like a very prominent tactic from Hibs to attack our left hand side. I can understand why. Barisic coming back into the team felt, to many, like a surprise as Bassey seemed to show enough to earn this spot. Borna didn’t like desperate to get on the ball and push on with it. He seemed quite happy just to occupy space without doing anything. And like the rest of the defenders, he was woeful at the back.
Scott Arfield – 5.1 (6) – Man of the Match
Rewarded here for getting the only goal of the game for us, having received the ball in the area and guided the ball in to offer hope to the support in the second half. I’ve a hope that Scott could be one of the big beneficiaries of GvB’s arrival as he could be a real pest to a defence if played slightly higher up, should the team move to more of a 3 attacking midfield set up. Man of the match, but that title is fairly meaningless from a day like this was.
Steven Davis – 3.5 (5)
I’ve no desire to look back on the game, it’s a failing of mine and I apologise for it, but I think it is him who fouls Boyle for the penalty? Whether it was Davis or someone else, I think the player gives the referee a decision to make. There were spells where I thought Davis looked like the only player who was trying to drive the team on, but that quickly faded and his game merged with the rest of them.
Glen Kamara – 3.5 (4)
I really wish that Kamara could show a whole lot more in games like this, I can hardly think of anything that he did in the game. He can disappear against opponents like this when he doesn’t come forward with the ball, something he is so capable of doing. I’m interested to see whether his game benefits from the new coaching team, or whether he may be one of the players who will suffer for Gerrard and co’s departure.
Joe Aribo – 4.5 (5)
Yes he didn’t have a whole load of pace moving forward but at least he was wanting to get on the ball and look to create things. Our right hand side was by far the busiest from an attacking sense and he felt like the heart of that, despite not producing anything of note (he may have fed the ball to Arfield though?). Taking him off was a very strange decision from the sideline.
Alfredo Morelos – 2.1 (3)
Awful. For someone who seemed to be ready to get himself firing again with a rejuvenated side, the evidence from this game seems to suggest that he will need to take a lot of lessons from Roy Makaay if he is to find improvement in his game. He looked disinterested from very early on, and he simply did not look to have the hunger to try and win the battle with the Hibs central defence. Him starting seemed generous to him given his lack of doing a great deal of late. Generosity turned to idiocy by the end of this game.
Ryan Kent – 2.8 (4)
Never got going and ended up coming far too deep to collect the ball. Normally that wouldn’t be a major issue, but he was not able to threaten at all on the ball. All that being said, taking him off as early as the coaching staff did was a really odd call.
Fashion Sakala – 3.0 (3)
Could see that shift in pace but wasn’t able to do anything with it here.
Ryan Jack – 3.5 (3)
It’s good that he continues to get minutes under his belt on his return, does a deeper role beckon for him in this new era?
Ianis Hagi – 2.9 (3)
I have high hopes that we will begin to say Hagi become more of an influential attacking midfield in the centre. If that’s how we shape up, then it’s now or never for him to become that number 10 style player.
Calvin Bassey – 3.0 (3)
I still maintain he is the best left back at the club right now, but I really hope he isn’t forced to deputise at centre back.
Scott Wright – 3.4 (3)
A sub in desperation more than anything considering who he replaced, but it made no difference to the outcome.