Just what the doctor ordered. The 4-0 win over Dundee was vital for a few reasons: 1. Rangers had to get back to winning ways after the defeat at Parkhead and 2. It was the start of a favourable run of fixtures, which Gerrard’s side should be winning. However, the goals from Lassana Coulibaly, Ryan Kent, a James Tavernier penalty and a late Glenn Middleton strike gave the Gers all the points at Ibrox.
There were a few talking points that caught my eye during the match; I am going to discuss them in more detail:
The returning Lassana Coulibaly is key
Injured for a month due to a borderline McGinn brother assault, Lassana Coulibaly is back. Gerrard and his team missed his presence in midfield in a few of the games, especially against Celtic and Motherwell. However, his 55-minute display against Dundee showed why that was the case.
Playing in a three-man midfield along with Andy Halliday and Scott Arfield, Coulibaly was exceptional. He was the box-to-box midfielder, with Halliday being the one who was holding. It worked superbly well; he was more than willing to get about the park, help Halliday break up attacks when needed, then he would more often than not, take the ball and start Rangers on their attacks. Furthermore, it released Scott Arfield to take up more advanced roles and get involved in the attacks – more than he has done in recent weeks. Good to have him back for that added flexibility to the side. He should be happy with his display and the opening goal.
The high press is a joy to watch – along with the quick passing moves
It’s been difficult to try and pin a style of play on this Rangers side so far. However, this match made things seem a lot clearer in that regard. We have seen the ultra-defensive Europa League tactics and then the halves of good football in the league campaign. However, the style Rangers played against Dundee looks like the template Gerrard wants to use for his team going forward.
The high pressing of Dundee and the willingness to win the ball back within seconds of losing it was wonderful to watch. Scott Arfield would be the first of the midfield to press, then the rest would follow suit. It made a potentially difficult match for Dundee even harder. While they could break and play through the midfield a few times, they couldn’t handle the pressing – they had no idea how to combat it.
However, the pressing aspect was only part of the good team display; some of the football Rangers played was excellent. The goal from Ryan Kent, which was the second, was a joy. Morelos exchanged passes with Kent, who drove inside and played a quick one-two with Arfield and slotted home. Some may say it was poetry in motion. If Rangers can continue to play on instinct in the final third and cut through teams as they did to O’Dea and co. it will be a very productive season. To get a clearer picture of the style and see the team execute it to a high level was very pleasing. Steven Gerrard and his coaches would have been delighted with that aspect of the game, there is no doubt about that.
The officiating in Scotland is shambolic
Kevin Clancy. Yes, him again. The man and his team are the people who saw fit to send a Rangers player, Alfredo Morelos, off on the opening day of the league season by having a guess. He didn’t have the best of games at Ibrox either. But let’s be honest, we all knew this would be the case. He’s an awful referee. However, my initial grievance is with Sean Carr, who is one of his linesmen. In the grand scheme of things, his decision to flag Morelos offside means nothing, but if Sean Carr can’t see Morelos runs from behind Daniel Candeias who crossed the ball to him, he is needed to pursue a new hobby. At the match, I wasn’t sure if Morelos was offside or not, but having watched the ‘goal’ back it was a disgrace of a decision. The officials don’t help themselves at all.
Secondly, I felt the straight red card that he issued to Kenny Miller was also a terrible decision. I think there was no malice in the challenge from Miller. Yes, it was a foul and a yellow card would have done the tackle justice, but to produce a straight red for that is baffling, especially when you consider the few dangerous tackles Darren O’Dea dished out, the tackle on James Tavernier is the one that sticks out the most, but he wasn’t cautioned.
Going on a run on the back of this win is imperative
Three points were massive, but it’s time for this Rangers team to get real and follow it up with three wins in the next three Premiership matches. They have St Johnstone at home, followed by Livingston away then play Hearts at Ibrox before the international break. It’s paramount they pick up nine from nine if they want to be serious about mounting a challenge for the title. They must use this win as the springboard to really go for it and avoid silly draws like the one at Fir Park. Consistency is the key.