The Rangers trip to Kilmarnock in the League Cup on Sunday was one which looked very difficult on paper. They were a team which done well against Rangers last season, and are hard to beat on their own ground. Rangers have had a heavy schedule, leading to rotation of players and even a couple of injuries. With all things considered, the performance the team produced was impressive. Here are some of the talking points from the game.
This one isn’t going to go away any time soon. More than a few managers and players have expressed concerns about the sort of surface Kilmarnock play on in recent seasons. For the most part, I suspect the Kilmarnock manager and players would agree. The club have an issue where the income from that pitch helps to keep them afloat, though. It’s rumoured that they’ll be moving back to a grass park next season.
It does seem that the pitch contributed to the injury which Jamie Murphy sustained. It also looked quite slow, with the ball never bouncing very far. Players are often reluctant to really commit to runs or go into tackles on that sort of surface. It’s not ideal for matches of this level at all.
With three teams in the league having a pitch of that type, and one of them just installing it this season, we’ll hear more about this in the coming weeks. The Murphy injury was certainly bad luck. Scotland isn’t the only country where top teams play on an artificial surface. It’s just a frustration and there’s not enough information out there to tell people why some teams made that choice.
After the first leg against Osijek, the manager of the Croatian team was discussing Morelos. He said that good players can affect matches sometimes, and great ones affect them consistently. He was hinting that Morelos wasn’t able to be consistent in his comments. Since then, Morelos has played excellently in almost every game. The later-rescinded red card against Aberdeen was the only thing that stopped that being every match.
All fans love their striker when he’s playing well, but there’s a real affinity between Morelos and the support. We can see that our appreciation of him leads to better performances and harder work on the pitch. His improvement this season isn’t just down to better confidence either. Good coaching and fitness work has clearly made him a better player. Like any striker, he’ll have a spell where things just aren’t working out at some point, I’d imagine. Let’s hope that’s not going to be seen for ages yet, and that the fans just keep backing him throughout.
Rangers have improved the squad depth and quality overall, which has led to this strong start. There are still areas where the team is light, and it leads to some consternation when watching matches. In this game, both Goldson and Katic had clashes where you worried they were going to have to go off. At centre-half, Rangers don’t have a lot of cover as things stand. The positions in attacking areas are also needing more players who can contribute, as a lot is being asked of Morelos and the injury to Murphy looks like a long-term one.
Gerrard suggested in his interview after the match that signings would be made this week. By the time you read this, there may be news on that front. The squad was never going to be completed in one transfer window, but it’s certainly clear that key areas are the right ones to focus on.
What was your reaction to Sunday? Do you feel the performance showed just how much the team has improved? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.