Rangers games are anything but uneventful and despite winning by only one goal, yesterday’s match against Livingston gave us much to talk about…
Football, they say, lost it’s soul when it lost it’s fans. This isn’t necessarily a new development or discovery, but it’s become more profound as the 2020-2021 season has worn on and the initial fervour of “just having football back” has worn off. People have gotten bored of it, tired of the same old results but without the excitement of the supporters there to roar on the time. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm, even if you’re only watching it on the telly – and the reverse is also true.
Last night, those struggling with insomnia would have done well to tune into the goalless draw between Crystal Palace and Manchester United for the most effective homeopathic remedy I’ve seen. Here was an objective lesson in how bad the sport can be when neither club has ambition for anything more than simply not losing. Now imagine, this was United’s 6th such scoreline this season, an all time club high. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he wanted to break records at Old Trafford, I’m not sure this is what he had in mind.
With all that said, it’s never been a better time to be a Bear. Rangers have taken the season by the scruff of the neck and never let go, from the start to now 4 points away from immortality. Considering all the other issues plaguing football these days, for Steven Gerrard and the lads to pull off the most remarkable turn-around campaign, possibly in our history, is simply remarkable.
If you missed yesterday’s game against Livingston, and honestly I’d have to question your life’s priorities, don’t let the 1-0 scoreline fool you. This was as eventful, enthralling and exhilarating contest as the rest, with the Gers suitably dominant and showing no signs of late-season fatigue.
The hilariously named Tony Macaroni Arena, loving nicknamed the Spaghettihad, is hardly the venue for some of Europe’s finest demonstrations of technical skill – and with John cheatin’ Beaton the referee, it was always going to be a war of attrition for Rangers – but the light blues came away looking and feeling like the champions.
By every metric concievable, the Gers were absolutely dominant. Commanding some 66% possession only tells part of the story, but consider we managed to make over double the amount of passes and still garner a 30% higher pass success rate – this was boys against men and the scoreline flattered Livingston, absolutely no question. The only thing, seemingly, Livy did better was fouling, picking up a whopping 6 yellow cards in a game where they couldn’t have paid for a more sympathetic official. Oh and time wasting, pre-goal.
Alfredo Morelos, who we talked about recently, steals the headlines again, as is his way. Just before half time, Morelos was through on goal only to be taken down by a sliding Max Stryjek, the Livingston keeper, who got none of the ball and all of Alfredo’s leg. A penalty as stonewall as they come. Instead, aforementioned Beaton booked Morelos for simulation in what was undoubtedly one of the most shocking decisions this season, most of which have Beaton’s name all over them.
After the Half Time whistle, Gerrard rightly approached Beaton and told him that his decision was bang out of order. It was, no question. There’s a chance that he had not seen the contact being made from his angle, but, if that’s so, he should not have booked Morelos. You can’t claim to have not properly seen the situation on one hand, but also claim to have seen enough that it can be considered a dive. Beaton, inept as he is, has made an assumption based off Alfredo’s bad reputation and allowed that to cloud his already skewed judgement.
In any case, Gerrard gets his marching orders and spends the rest of the game in the stands. Now, given there’s no fans/atmosphere, I’m sure the players could probably hear Gerrard yelling from there anyway, it’s only a few extra feet back from where he’d be normally. Nonetheless, the situation was absolutely ridiculous and in any other League you’d expect both Morelos’s yellow and Stevie G’s touchline ban to be repealed. We all know neither will happen here.
The story, however, at least had a happy ending with Morelos himself netting the winner on the 87th minute, sending the Rangers faithful on the pitch and at home into raptures. El Buffalo staying was key to the Gers success this season and again he showed just invaluable a player he is.
With just a few days of rest, even less when you consider the celebrations, St Mirren are up on Saturday – but isn’t it just such a good time to be a Bear? No boredom here, just endless success and jubilation, a joy to watch and a joy to be a part of, vindication for the years of abuse we’ve all endured and the years of effort the club have poured into bringing us back to where we belong. Football isn’t the same, true, it’s even better.