Back to winning ways with a game which for some parts was again quite tough to watch, but there were noticeable improvements from what was our last couple of games, especially on second viewing. Watching the game at the time I felt that the first half was just as stodgy as what we have been in our encounters with Hearts and Hamilton and we did not try to kick on in the second half, instead it looked like we were getting worse and, but for a great stop from a goalkeeper very much in form at the moment, could have found ourselves behind yet again.
We had just about reached a point where we had gone 270 minutes of domestic football without scoring a goal when Ryan Kent’s shot deflected off Ricky Foster (I knew he would eventually do something good for us!) and nestled into the wrong footed-keeper’s net. A goal which brought great relief to players and fans alike. What is encouraging to see is we managed the game well from there on in, not giving Ross County a sniff at finding an equaliser I was still rather afraid of at the time.
There was still a sense post game of feeling rather annoyed at the level of performance, even if the most overriding emotion was one of happiness and relief. We didn’t lack effort, there were plenty of players who were looking for the ball, not hiding, but when you are (pardon the language) shit out of form, then that does have an affect on your overall performance level. Some players did better than others, but here is hoping that this is the first proper step toward recovery.
Allan McGregor – 8.3 (8) – Man of the Match
Rangers fans will all have their own “Goalie”. For generations above my own, the man who will always have that tag will be Andy Goram. I cannot argue with that, I did not see him play but having watched many games back where he wore the number 1 shirt, I completely get why. You may have some who mention Chris Woods, that is likely just a personal taste thing however. For my generation, the man who will hold that “Goalie” tag will in all likelihood be Allan McGregor (Stefan Klos falls into that personal taste category in my opinion) and the reason for that is down to games like this. This is not his most stand out performance in a Rangers shirt, but the thing that I will always remember about Allan McGregor as a Rangers keeper is his ability to pull out a key save and that is practically the only thing he does. He is such a reliable shot stopper, and he demands so much of those in front of him. This was a fine example of what a good, quiet game for him is, and him being Man of the Match for two games in a row speaks volumes for not only how things have been for the outfield players, but also for the reliability of our socially active stopper. And he is someone I will hold all future Rangers goalkeepers up against.
Matt Polster – 5.6 (5)
Stepping in for the injured Tavernier and doing pretty much what all of us expected he would do, follow his orders to the letter but at the same time not be overly remarkable in doing it. But, is it his job to be remarkable? He will take less risks as a result which means less mistakes, but at the same time it prevents him from having stand out moments, he will likely always be in this middling category, at best, when he features. Sometimes one’s versatility can be to their detriment, and Polster is very clearly a right back who would prefer to be playing in the middle, but he is far too nice to complain about it, he will carry out his orders like a good soldier should. He is not the long-term answer, and it is a very fair question to ask about whether a Nathan Patterson would be a better bet when it is this level of game, whether Tav is fit or otherwise, as he clearly is someone who could be the future.
Connor Goldson – 5.6 (5)
Taking the captains armband, somewhat remarkable given last Wednesday’s event, but at the same time no one was surprised that this was the call. Goldson is quite clearly the vice-captain and with our leader (I will avoid quotation marks, this time) already out then Connor was absolutely keeping his place. He would have even if he hadn’t needed to take the skippers role, he is as important to Steven Gerrard as water is to a fish, but this performance was more of a float than a sink from the centre back. The fact Ross County had good opportunities to in the game would tell you that it wasn’t a great game for him, nor was it good in the attacking sense at all as his ability to attack set pieces seemed to desert him completely, but he did OK at leading the line, talking to those around him, and playing simple enough passes. Plus, no stupid errors, always a bonus!
George Edmundson – 5.6 (5)
Rather remarkably, for the second time in a couple of weeks, both he and Goldson have exactly the same rating from a game. This isn’t so much a “joint Man of the Match” situation this time however, and it was safe if unremarkable, bar a couple of misplaced or ill-judged passes, an aspect of his game many of us were impressed by when he first arrived. He definitely needs to work on his ability to get a good head on the ball when we have a corner. He is capable of winning headers due to his size, but we need a lot more conviction from him. Something I did notice which really interested me though was the reaction from him to a header of his being deflected for another corner. The camera focussed in on him following that chance and there was a smile from him that read so much like “I just nearly got a goal for Rangers there” and I couldn’t help but feel really proud of him. He is a young lad who still can’t quite believe he is at this size of club and getting game time. That small moment showed me, even with the horrid results recently, that he is absolutely loving his time here.
Borna Barisic – 6.7 (6)
This was an assist away from being a really great game for Barisic. Some dangerous looking crosses, more on the players getting onto them later, and looked the most confident of all the defenders when it came to actually tackling for the ball. That quality never truly leaves you, although it is still interesting to see that he continues to take less corners at the moment, but that heart is something that can come and go depending on your mood and your drive to be here. That feels like a consistent factor as well, which is why I think he has been rated higher than I expected he would be as the fans recognise that. Being linked with 20m+ moves to the biggest league in the world will obviously be a motivator. So long as he continues to do both parts of his game, he will have earned that move and no one could begrudge him the opportunity.
Glen Kamara – 5.8 (6)
Silky skills and dire distribution, in the space of a few seconds, pretty much sums up Glen Kamara. There was a shot from him early on which needed their keeper to make a decent save, and right there I saw the potential for Kamara to play further up the park rather than limit himself, or be limited by those instructing him, as he does for his national side. He is a great dribbler, we saw that with the nice piece of skill to evade a defender, but not long after he played a pass we have grown oh so used to from him in recent weeks. If you pushed him from a “6” to an “8” I think there is the potential to get more from him, because when he does have the ball at his feet and can drive at the defence, dare I say even take a shot, then you might, just maybe, get the best out of him.
Steven Davis – 5.1 (5)
Is Steven Davis done? Far too many under par performances in comparison to the rest of the team, and as one of the generals on the park I would expect a lot more from him. He has found himself on corner duty more often of late and I often ask myself why, and I wonder if it because he has become so ineffective at dealing with a potential break away from an opposition that he is best placed further up the park. If that is the case, we need to look at other options for that role instead of him, as we need to have our best set piece taker on corners, and it is not Steven Davis. No cross-field balls, no leadership, no anything from Northern Ireland’s legendary midfielder. And I use the word “legendary” very deliberately, as we are maybe getting to the end game with his career. I would be utterly thrilled if he can find a second wind to his season, but this is a repeat of when he arrived back home last season, and by this time last year he was beginning to find his feet.
Joe Aribo – 7.0 (6)
I was possibly a bit harsh on Joe looking back on this, and thankfully the rest of you saw sense to rate him higher. I think I was frustrated at the time with the fact he did very little in terms of performing the “Arfield” role, and his mistake which gave County their best chance of the game. But, he did look for the ball a lot and did attempt to win aerial balls, I think we can say that there was much more of an obvious effort from him than what we are perhaps used to, and clearly being given the chance to play more advanced as he has been is something that is pleasing him.
Ianis Hagi – 5.3 (5)
Is this the reality when it comes to Ianis Hagi? He will not stand out when he is on the right as we have mentioned before, but even then, I would hope that we would get a bit more from him when it is a game like this. He looked a lot more afraid at making a mistake than recently, and I think that pressure of being the catalyst is one that he is not ready for just yet, especially for a team under scrutiny as they currently are. I don’t even think that putting him into the centre is something that would have necessarily helped him this time though either, I just think the surroundings of Dingwall was one that he was just not happy about and as a result the display was a lot more subdued. I was not in the least bit surprised that he was hooked first when the manager looked to make substitutions, and as much as I am sure he will perform better against Leverkusen, it is just as important he can play well in a game like this, and he will need to remember that if he is to stay here on a more long term basis.
Alfredo Morelos – 3.6 (4)
So much debate at the moment is in relation to Alfredo Morelos and his severe lack of form, and what the cause of that has been. What is important to remember is that being critical of him does not mean that we do not love him and do not want him to succeed. Myself and every single supporter of our club would love nothing more than for him to be banging the goals in and enjoying his football, and his life, again. That isn’t happening right now because he is not making the correct decisions as an attacker, and he perhaps look heavier on the field because he is carrying a much heavier burden within himself than what is conducive to good football. The lack of handshake from the manager is an interesting one though, considering he was all for shaking hands with his players at full time, you would have to say that there perhaps could be something more to that than just a simple precaution. I guess the answer to that will come when we see the team line up for Thursday.
Ryan Kent – 6.5 (7)
There was a long spell in the game where we maybe suspected yet another below average display from Ryan Kent was incoming, but a change of position to the right hand side, something we are maybe seeing a bit more of lately, seemed to do the trick as not long after we got a lot more directness and that resulted in the winning goal. Directness is something that we have criticised Kent for, the lack of it I mean, but I’ve always maintained, along with others, that the effort level is there, perhaps too much. But it was funny that as soon as he switched to the right hand side it almost gave him a renewed zest and he took on the County back line from an almost more central position. Does he isolate himself too much on the left hand flank because his instinct is to always run toward the left? Is he a better option on the right going forward? It could be something that is considered.
Florian Kamberi – 5.8 (5)
Someone who could absolutely come in and play on the left hand side is Kamberi, who is more inclined to come inside at the right moments and play off the main striker, a role that in the set up we currently use seems to suit him a lot better. He is quick, he is physical, and although he maybe needs a bit more time to settle in that what we are possibly of a mind to give him, considering some of the shifts he has put in (St Johnstone) he could be a really excellent option for us in that role, more so than as the top point of the attack I feel.
Jordan Jones – 5.4 (5)
You also have the option to bring this man back into the fold for the left hand side. For the first time in what feels like forever, we saw Jordan Jones really drive at a defence and cause them to panic. You could see the number of players who were running over to close him down, he is a danger that Scottish sides are very aware of, and that brashness that he has is something we have lacked in this level of encounter, and the sooner we can use him more frequently, the better.
Nikola Katic – 5.1 (5)
Would be surprised if there was anything he really did other than take a ball to the balls (ouch) but his inclusion will be more remembered for he replaced than anything he actually did.