Out of jail…again!
Results are everything in football, so from that respect it is hard to say that the win over Motherwell on Saturday in the Scottish Cup was anything other than a good thing.
However, the performance was again littered with the same issues that have plagued us for all of this season and a hefty part of last season: dominating the ball and possession, inability to open up the opposition, lacking defensively.
Not for the first time this season it took a late, late turnaround in fortunes to get us out of jail. Indeed, you would have to wonder where we would be were it not for the constant heroics of Kenny Miller.
There is no doubt that what Mark Warburton is trying to achieve in terms of playing style should be applauded. When it comes off, we are a joy to watch. However there are more and more indicators that the style choses by Warburton often causes us more problems, especially when trying to play it out from the back, than it does solutions. And Saturday’s goals came from a) a more direct cross into the box and b) a mistake from Stephen McManus that let in Kenny Miller for the winner and were arguably unconnected to Warburton’s favoured style of play or system.
As I said, what Warburton is trying to achieve should be applauded but his apparent unwillingness to vary his system or at least recognise when it isn’t working is providing threads for supporters and others within the media to pull at.
I hope he recognises and amends that before he passes the point of no return in the eyes of those supporters and critics alike.
Future’s so bright…
I wasn’t at Ibrox on Saturday. Early kick-offs are always an issue for me. What with taking my daughter to her dancing and my boy to his football, a lunchtime KO is an almost impossibility for me on most Saturday’s.
Instead I took the game in at one of my locals with a mate who is back from Australia for a few days to visit family. Before he emigrated there about 12 years ago, Allan and I took in many a Rangers game together in the 90s and 00s. Probably the best occasion we had in all those times was when Rangers beat Celtic 3-2 in the 2003 Scottish Cup Final.
Now when Allan and I went to cup finals we done it proper. No colours, no jeans and trainers. We would get dappered up Saturday night style and make a proper day of it – win or lose.
On this day Allan was particularly well scrubbed up, down to a rather natty pair of sunglasses which cost him around £150.
“Is that wise?”, I asked him, pointing to his expensive shades. He assured me it would be fine.
Roll on to the 90th minute. It has been a hectic game, one that has went one way and then the other, and one that Rangers have slowly gotten a hold of the longer it has gone on. We look the more likely team now and have done since Barry smashed in a free kick to make it 2-2.
In the last move of the match Neil McCann sends in a great cross. Peter Lovenkrands, who has already scored in the match, pops up at the back post. He heads it downwards and away from Oldco Rab Douglas and Rangers have won the cup. Cue bedlam in the North Stand where we are situated – bodies are flying everywhere. As the celebrations are dying down, I look down on the floor and see there is smashed glass at our feet.
“Allan”, I shout, “yer shades”. Allan looks down and, sure enough, his £150 shades have bought it and are currently lying in pieces at our feet in an unsalvageable and tangled heap.
“Fuck it!” he bellows. “We’ve won!”.
We left Hampden after the presentation and enjoyed a night of celebration in the city at the Wee Rangers Club before heading homewards.
The Monday after the game I popped into see Allan at the pub he managed. I had taken a half-day off to partially continue the celebrations. The Allan I found was a tad more mournful about his expensive eyewear than the one I dealt with during the celebrations. In fact he had the look of a man who had just enjoyed a braw cup of tea, only to realise that someone had taken a dump in his kettle.
But that’s the thing with euphoria – it’s a very intense buzz, but very short lived. And Allan was very much coming down from his post-euphoric high to the realisation that his expensive shades were gone.
There was no such dramas on Saturday when Miller scored the last minute winner. Just a warm embrace and chink of our respective pint glasses. But we both learned a valuable lesson that day in 2003, and one I have heeded ever since: if you own an expensive pair of sunglasses, don’t wear them at the fitba!
It’s Miller’s Time
Yet again on Saturday we were given another example of just how valuable a player Kenny Miller is to Rangers. At the age of 37 he is showing players ten and more years younger than him how it should be done.
In his long career there have been many who have been prepared to write him off – including me. For some reason people have always focussed on the flaws in Miller’s game. His touch at times would make Gordon Durie blush, he has in the past been pretty erratic when it came to finishing and all-in-all there was a certain amount of a “headless chicken” feel about Miller for long periods of his career.
But Miller is greater than the sum of his parts. His professionalism, preparation and attitude have made him a greater player than the attributes he has been blessed with. Now there is an element of luck in Miller still looking great at 37 in terms of injuries he’s sustained, or lack of them, throughout his career. He has been fortunate in that department. But Miller can’t control that. No player can. Some are lucky with injuries, some aren’t.
But in what Miller can control he is nothing short of exemplary. His attitude to training, to preparation, to diet and to games has made him what he is at this late stage of his career, and I would advise any kid to look at Kenny Miller as an example of what it takes to have a chance in the game.
There was some talk after his latest heroics on Saturday about him being inducted in the Rangers Hall of Fame. I for one would be more than happy with him being in there. I have heard some say that he shouldn’t be there because he played for our rivals across the city, but I feel players should be judged on how they served Rangers and besides, Alfie Conn is already in there.
The fact of the matter is that Kenny Miller has served Rangers well on three separate occasions, and with distinction on two of them.
Get him in there.