I went on one of my rare trips to Ibrox this evening, to take in the Scottish League Cup second round match between Rangers and Dunfermline. (As an aside, the main reason I don’t go more often is the cost; the game cost me £30.20 for travel, food and a programme, just for one adult.)
It was a pretty good performance by the Gers. Resting Ryan Jack, who’s been impressive since he signed, the Ibrox side were nevertheless 2-0 up by the time the match clock ticked into double figures. Two more goals in the first half, and another couple in the second, saw Rangers secure their biggest competitive victory to date under Pedro Caixinha. While Dunfermline are a second tier team, Rangers dominated the game, using the ball well in midfield and converting chances when they arose, something they don’t always do. All-in–all, a resounding victory and a great team performance – symbolised by the fact I’ve been struggling to single out a man of the match. Some elements of the evening did annoy me a little – being 4-0 up after half an hour inevitably resulted in the foot being taken off the gas a little, although that might have been at the manager’s behest to try different things out. Caixinha’s decision to pitch Wilson, Kranjcar, and Holt in as his three substitutes peeved me as I’d liked to have seen Ryan Hardie get a run out.
I also felt Jordan Rossiter looked a bit rusty in midfield, although that’s perhaps to be expected after all his injury problems. I didn’t think Alfredo Morelos was all that impressive either – two goals aside, he looked to struggle physically against Dunfermline’s centre backs, particularly Jean-Yves M’voto, after the big Frenchman came on.
However, Morelos won the sponsor’s man of the match award; not unsurprising, as this often goes to players if they’ve scored more than one goal. After I left the mobile internet graveyard that is Ibrox however, it became apparent that Morelos playing well and looking a talent was a consensus view. Ah well. I tweeted something about how my views always seem to run contrary to others, and continued my walk home.
Five minutes later, I checked my phone to see I had a number of notifications. Iain Duff, who is a mutual follower and has written books on Rangers, had replied to me saying he felt the performance was overrated, and that seemed to instigate some kind of minor tweetstorm, with people telling us we were being miserable bastards, essentially.
Which is probably a fair cop.
What I do take exception to were the tweets saying that Rangers fans are celebrating a rare occasion when they were expected to win big and have, after five years of failing to, and that they’re not getting carried away. That’s simply not true. Each of the last five or six seasons I can clearly remember a big win early in the season in the league or challenge cup that has had Rangers fans purring and convinced of impending glory for a few days until a player makes an innocuous mistake in that weekend’s league match and doom is one more upon us. It’s emblematic of the magic bullet syndrome I’ve written of before.
Some examples of the phenomenon include:
- Rangers 5-0 Queen of the South (September 2016)
- Rangers 6-2 Hibernian (July 2015)
- Rangers 8-1 Clyde (August 2014) You can argue the toss McCoist’s reputation was too far gone by this stage.
- Rangers 4-0 Albion Rovers (July 2013)
- Rangers 2-0 Motherwell (September 2012)
These pretty much all turned out to be false dawns. Or non-turned corners. It’s good to be positive about your club’s fortunes, but I do think it’s easier when it’s summer or early autumn and the grass is green and the sun is out and your marrow isn’t freezing in your bones. And let’s not forget that football fans are incredibly fickle.
I do think that Rangers’ recent results and performances have been encouraging, and most of Caixinha’s signings have impressed me. Alves, Cardoso, Jack, and Dorrans in particular look like they’ve formed a strong girdle up the middle of the team, something we’ve lacked for a while. But I’m not getting carried away until the season starts proper. Fool me 28 times, shame on you…