Aberdeen, so the Scottish mainstream media would have us believe, is the second-best team in Scotland. The league table may yet reflect that, however, if they don’t score from open play against Celtic they will have gone the whole season without scoring from open play against either side of the Old Firm. They’ve also only taken 1 point from 21 so far.
At the moment, Celtic, painful as it is, are the best team in the country. Aberdeen are the best at beating the diddy teams and we are told (frequently) that Hibs play the best football when they are on their game. So why is second place still within the grasp and destiny of the shambles that is Rangers?
“Aye, but yous spent £10 million in the summer”.
Irrelevant. Rangers starting XI in the last Old Firm game cost less to assemble than Scott Brown cost Celtic 10 years ago. The team that finished the game against Aberdeen cost circa £2.5 million so the myth about Rangers having this first team that is way more expensive than Hibs and Aberdeen can be laid to rest. Yes, we spent a lot of money in the summer but it was spent poorly, nay, wasted.
After the squad overhaul in the summer we are now basically playing with players that have been brought through the youth system, a few loanees with Dorrans, Candeias and Morelos the only players costing any real money. The remainder of the squad is players bought when we were in the Championship and in an ideal world will not be anywhere near the first team.
How we’ve managed to get into this position amazes me. We’ve had seven different Captains. We are currently playing with our 5th choice central midfielder playing at left back because our first two are injured/suspended. We have had ten central defensive pairings. For our final game against Hibs at the weekend we have almost a starting XI missing.
Foderingham, Wallace, John, McCrorie, Jack, Dorrans, Windass, Miller, Morelos.
These aren’t excuses, these are contributory factors to a misfiring team. Partnerships are built up all over the park. The middle of defence actually looked decent against Aberdeen, partly because Bates is the best defender we have but also, maybe, because they have now had a couple of games together.
The centre of midfield has been all over the place this season, mainly because of injury to Jack, Dorrans, McCrorie and Rossiter we have ended up with Holt playing way more games than he normally would. Holt at his best is destructive and industrious, at his worst he can’t control the ball or pass it ten yards.
So, in a season where we have had three managers, horrific injuries to key players, players suspended by the club because of insubordination, three of our most expensive summer signings in Cardoso, Herrera and Pena nowhere near the first team squad let alone the starting XI and our highest profile signing (Alves) sitting on the bench, it is incredible to think that we could finish the season 25 points closer to Celtic than last season and finish in second place. With a few good additions and a settled team (luck with injuries), I don’t think we are as far off as people are saying.
The team on Sunday almost picks itself with the midfield being the only real area up for discussion. I’d go with Rossiter, Docherty and Holt, not because I think Holt is a better player than Goss but because he’s due a decent game and maybe this is the sort of game he will thrive in, high energy, high intensity.
I for one will be glad to see the back of this season, lurching from one embarrassment to the next, no settled selections and not learning from mistakes, ridiculed from all angles. As Dave King said, we all thought we were invincible under Advocaat, I don’t think it’ll take one league title for the house of cards to fall, it could be as little as one Old Firm win.
We had seven defeats at home this season, that, guaranteed, won’t happen again next season and I for one don’t see why we can’t mount a serious challenge at the top of the league next season, all aboard the Stevie Gerrard hype train, come join me it’s wonderful up here!!