Rangers dropped points away to Hibs yesterday and we’re still pretty mad, but let’s put the result into a bit of perspective…
When I was young, a long long time ago now, and Rangers lost on Saturday – there would be this tangible darkness, an invisible yet very present negative aura that filled the entire house and wouldn’t dissipate until Tuesday. My dad took football too seriously and, so I thought, I’d turn out differently and not let it affect me the same. Yet here I am today.
The clouds haven’t lifted after the disappointing 2-2 draw with Hibernian yesterday. Sure, it wasn’t a loss, but my goodness it feels like one. I had hoped by today I’d be able to give you a more measured breakdown of what went right and what went wrong for the Gers, but alas, I remain, angry.
Now, of course, part of the reason for that is that dropping points was entirely avoidable. Defensive errors led to our clean sheet record derailing and missed opportunities, many of which were unquestionably sitters, at the other end ensured we didn’t do enough. Rangers maintained a healthy possession percentage north of 65 for the entire game, had all the play and all the chances, but failed to capitalise on any of it. Where have we heard that before?
It was like the perfect storm of bad things happening all at once to ensure we wouldn’t leave with a win. Our rock solid defence had a mare, objectively. Goldson and Tavernier, both justifiably praised for having arguably the best form of their careers until now, looked completely off. Once the first goal went in, and the clean sheet record went out, the heads went noticeably down and if not for heroics from McLaughlin we could have shipped more.
Our midfield didn’t do themselves any favours at all, as rumours of Steven Gerrard searching for upgrades in the area will doubtless accelerate. Ryan Kent was off, yes even Kent, and the rest of the forwards all took turns to miss chances that would be easier to score. Morelos and Arfield both scored, but had bigger chances to double and triple our tally which went begging. It just wasn’t good enough.
With all that said, every team has a game off. The real “Invicibles”, Arsenal, drew a lot of games in the year they did it but are still rightly praised for such an accomplishment, in such a league, when being so utterly consistent is borderline impossible. The human element and football being a funny old game, will always ensure there’s a bad day or two at the office.
Further, this was away to Hibs who are also unbeaten in the League this year. It’s disappointing because we could, and should, have been the first team to do it – but we talked before how this would be our first big challenge and in the clear light of day this isn’t comparable to dropping points to Livingston, not by a long shot.
It’s up to Rangers to rebound from this. Maybe they let the clean sheet record get in their own heads. Maybe they thought they were untouchable. Take strength, and learn lessons, from the games in which points have dropped and use it to move forward. As we’ve argued here before, the Light Blues need to get the check book out and reinforce Gerrard’s squad. Hopefully the tightness at the top of the table will help loosen the purse strings, to that effect.
When all is said and done, it’s just one game, one bad day at the office. We didn’t lose and we still have the best players and best manager in the League this season. And beyond that, we still need to beat Celtic, come what may, to lift our 55th title. It feels like everything has changed but, ultimately, not much has. Maybe I do still feel gutted days after a bad game, just like my old man, but this year’s Rangers are so good they are making it easy to come around much sooner.