A summer transfer window , that was frankly embarrassing for Rangers as all their first and second choice targets fell by the wayside amid Whyte’s comical bidding,and left them with a number of signings that were half a notch in quality above most other top 6 SPL sides playing staff . Here we are now with a team of second raters, that looked like finally they had real problems ON the pitch as well as off it as defeats to Malmo then Maribor seemed to confirm.
Well – first Old Firm game of the season and a Rangers side there for the taking, with the chance to do some real early psychological damage to them. What happens?
I am embarrassed and disgusted in equal measure. Sure it is one game and all this might be a bit “knee-jerky”, but it was the manner and reasons for the defeat yesterday that have left me feeling this way and given me the most cause for concern.
Team selection – I think it is 100% accepted that Lennon showed Rangers far too much respect yesterday with his lineup. It seemed as if he was expecting a Walter Smith 4-5-1 instead of the more open and vulnerable 4-4-2 McCoist went for. I will never understand what he thought Mulgrew could offer in midfield that Ledley couldn’t. Loovens and Samaras ????? what needs to be said here that hasn’t been said 1000 times before 2 and 3 seasons ago never mind this one. I just don’t get how they can find themselves back in the fold after they have shown on numerous occasions they cannot be relied upon. It is as baffling as it is frustrating.Brown even though he got injured I can understand.Forrest was on fire last week and it has to be said given Rangers formation and tactics yesterday he could well have been vital. The thing is though if he was anonymous and a passenger we would all to a man have been raging at why Brown was not included. Stokes ??? what does the guy need to do to get a start against this mob ? Last week I would say Forrest,Ledley and Stokes were our 3 best players, yet none of them got a look in.
Tactics – well to be fair I am a big believer in the old saying “tactics go out the window if players don’t perform”. Not one player got pass marks yesterday so tactics became a bit of an irrelevance. That being said , again I come back to Mulgrew. I do not know what the gameplan was with him in midfield. The only thing I can come up with is that Mulgrew played there when we beat them 2-0 last season. That probably explains Samaras’ inclusion as well, but then again the formation we played that day was a 4-5-1. Was Chic there to fire in crosses ? who to ? Samaras ? I suspect he was playing so as to offer cover to Kaddouri in a defensive sense. Again though this just highlights Lennon’s negative thinking here, in that he seems more worried about what they can do to us , rather than what we can do to them.
Lennon for me either over analyzed things or was very naive in his gameplan. For this he should shoulder quite a bit of the blame given that he completely dismantled a side that looked really decent last week. The players yesterday were all to a man woeful even Forster with his punching and Hooper his goal aside was guilty of losing possession.
One of the most annoying aspects of the game yesterday was that we only turned up(and even then were only in 2nd gear) for 10 minutes before halftime. In that time we found ourselves scoring 2 goals (albeit one of them very fortunate). At halftime given Mulgrew being on a yellow, I thought it was a given that he would be subbed for Ledley. This served 2 purposes, firstly and most obviously – nullifying the danger of a red card. Secondly , given that Rangers were a goal down they would have to be more open than they already were. Attack would have been the best form of defense for ourselves here in my opinion. Ledley while being more attack minded can also track back. I just thought that change was a no-brainer. We were woeful and only came into the game in the last 10 mins of the half. If ever there was a time to re-jig and freshen things up – this was it. Lennon had the perfect chance to earn his stripes at haltime yesterday. If he had thought half as much here, as he obviously did prior to the game then I think it could well of been us going on to score more goals second half and winning quite comfortably. God knows what was said to them at halftime as they all came out asleep and never woke up.
So , we now sit 4 points behind , have given Rangers a massive confidence boost that will no doubt see them go on a winning run, while we have to negotiate a glut of Europa League ties (which are now looking more troublesome than welcome) whilst playing away straight after in 4 of the 5 remaining ties. Added to that , it looks like Brown will be out for 1-2 months. We clearly don’t have our troubles to seek. It has also last night become apparent that there is some unrest in the squad. Commons declared he was fit on Twitter while Lennon said he had an injury in his post match interview. I hope they are wrong but there has been some strong rumours in recent months that all is not well in the Celtic camp. If Juarez is anything to go by then it looks to me that big Dan and Commons have had similar run ins with Lennon.
Given yesterday’s result and display I think it is imperative that any nonsense gets put to the side and bridges are built between the management and players. It is early doors but already it looks like we will be up against it and only a completely unified squad and management will see us through.
The resurgence of the team from the doldrums of the Strachan and Mogga era’s was in large part down to this unity and the re-connection between everyone at the club, from fans to players,management and directors alike.
Lets hope that this resurgence and optimism from last season and Sunday’s horrific collapse are not a case of one step forward two steps back.