It’s been a rough ride since 2012. We’ve seen countless embarrassing defeats to clubs like Alloa and the rest. However, the banter era is over. So go and open the door and walk out the other side. Smile, because we’ve come through that monstrosity of a period for the club and managed to get back into the Europa League group stages and come away from Villarreal, which many, including myself, thought would be the toughest game with a superb 2-2 result in Villarreal.
I am going to discuss a few of the prominent talking points from the 90 minutes:
It was a game of two halves
Let’s cut to the chase and be honest here. That first half performance was shocking. Rangers were poor on the ball and even more surprisingly far too loose when out of possession. Santi Cazorla played the part of Moses and our midfield would have been the red sea with the number of times it was so easy to play through and split it with one through pass. The only positive was we got in at half-time only one goal behind.
Second half, well, after the hour, we grew in confidence went at them and that was the catalyst for the point. We pressed higher and took the game by the scruff of the neck and were well worth the point at the end, we even could have nicked it.
We are a better team than these Rangers players think
Following on from the last point, both Daniel Candeias and Steven Gerrard alluded to this in their post-match interviews. The players had to show much more belief in themselves. I think the introduction of Glenn Middleton gave everyone a lift in that regard. His introduction and his disregard for some of the reputations was pleasing to see rather than the tentative stuff we witnessed in the first hour.
He set the tone and was involved in the second equaliser with a delicious ball down the line for Borna Barisic to find Kyle Lafferty, who scored with a tidy finish. Message to the players: be brave, and play the way you can then results like this can become the norm.
James Tavernier played a captain’s part
The first half, yes, it’s becoming a recurring theme. It looked like he tried to rein in his attacking instinct in an attempt to make the defence remain with a solid line. However, in the second half, he gave the performance of a captain. He drove the team on at 0-1 down. He would do what Villarreal hate: he ran at them and was direct, much like Glenn Middleton. Three times he broke away. Luckily one time was for Scott Arfield’s equaliser when he was emptied in the box, but his prior link-up with Daniel Candeias paid dividends and brought the goal. It must be said, he defended quite well, too. Sansone and Pedraza, didn’t have the best of nights, especially the former. It was an all-round good display and one that a captain should be able to produce in times of adversity within a game. He took the bull by the horns and dragged us back into it. For that, he was my man of the match.