Winter weaknesses

folder_openH&H Articles, Rangers FC

We’ve all been there – you are playing Football Manger your team is on a roll its almost unstoppable, scoring goals and picking up wins but come 2am you really need to stop and save the game only to come back the next night to find that your unstoppable team has transformed from Peps Barcelona to Ally’s banter years team after only a short break. That Star striker who was scoring at least one a game is going through a baron spell, your defenders are selling the jerseys and the injuries to key players start racking up. There’s only one thing for it…exit without saving and restart.

Points dropped to a very poor Hearts team more points thrown away from a winning positions at both Rugby Park and McDiarmid Park leave any hopes of a 55th title this season hanging by the loosest of threads a another terrible Tynecastle showing means the Europa League is now our only chance of silverware.

So what has went wrong and how do we fix it? Well, that’s the million dollar question. The January transfer window was widely considered a success when Hagi and Kamberi arrived on loan along with retaining Alfredo Morelos and Borna Barisic (with the latter extending his contract). It looked like we were ready to mount a serious league title challenge – after coming through a tricky December mostly unscathed – but the great momentum we had built up over the festive period which ended with that great win at Parkhead has quickly disappeared.

Stranraer were dispatched 2-0 without much fuss when the manger used the cup game to rotate the squad ahead of the make or break period of the season but when a Stubborn St Mirren came to Ibrox we were only able to secure a 1-0 victory At the time most said this was fine as to win a title you sometimes need to drag out a result or two along the way. Next up was a trip to Tynecastle which is normally one of the more tricky fixtures on the league calendar but this season Hearts have been terrible. Not even a change of manager bringing any sort of bounce so you would think that taking the lead in such a game would encourage the team on and demoralise a fragile Hearts team. That wasn’t the case and Rangers somehow managed to lose to this Hearts team giving the new manager his first (and as of the end of February only) league win.

You could say that missing some of our most important players in Alfredo Morelos, Borna Barasic and our captain James Tavernier for this period couldbe to blame for this run of poor form and while it’s certainly not helped, the players who have come in have certainly not let anyone down. Andy Halliday was fine at left back, Jermaine Defoe scored match winning goals and Matt Polster may just have extended his Rangers career with some decent showings.

There’s no doubt individual errors have also cost us since we returned from Dubai. Goldson vs Kilmarnock, Katic’s horror show vs St Johnstone and Tavs latest blunder in the cup away to Hearts. Of course the manager must take some of the blame for the lacklustre performances and Plan B or something different up our sleeve would help. Added to that, the squad should have been rotated more and as I stated on the preview show before the St Johnstone game Alfredo hasn’t looked like himself since we restated in January. With Jermaine Defoe injured it made sense to try something different. Step forward Flo Kamberi.

In my opinion, it will be very difficult for him to return to Hibs once this loan spell has ended after what he has said in interviews since joining but that does mean he is playing for his future and so far he has looked impressive. Not for one minute am I saying he will be the next Ally McCoist, but he might well be the next Gordon Durie and when he has been given minutes on the pitch he has done well. Two excellent finishes (albeit one was chopped off for a handball) and an assist at Perth back up my opinion that he should have started the game. It was very clear in Perth that Katic wasn’t having a great game and he should have been subbed well before he cost us an equalising goal.

Some players also can’t seem to catch a break with the manager. Greg Stewart and George Edmundson are more than capable of offering something in the SPFL. I’m not saying they will be in the team of the season but sometimes you need to get down in the mud to fight before you are allowed to play nice football in this league of ours. After being the first side to blink in after the winter break it was important to try and rebuild momentum as soon as we could over the coming weeks but with every step forward in Europe like the epic comeback and then qualification vs Braga we seem to take a few more back domestically.

What is clear to everyone is this 433 works wonders in Europe but for some reason the teams in the SPFL seem to have the answer for it. Along with the formation issues, there are other questions to be asked of the Manager. Why were Greg Docherty and Jamie Murphy deemed worse options than Sheyi Ojo? Doc is doing very well at Hibs while Murphy is scoring goals down south meanwhile Ojo hasn’t done anything of note since September last year and yet is first sub on to change the cup game and try to save our domestic season.

I’m still very much behind the manager but he needs to change things. The worst thing for football fans is when they can all see whats going wrong but the manager refuses to change it up. I do think that adding a coach to the management team who has been around the SPFL for a while may help, the way Souness had Walter.

How Stevie G would love to restart the last month or so.

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