It was a frustrating night for Rangers against Aberdeen. The draw was probably a fair result overall, but the players let themselves down for large spells. Once again, the focus was on mentality. The team showed some of that in the second half, but there was plenty to be critical of.
The talking points from the match and the upcoming weekend are discussed below.
There’s some real debate today surrounding the performance of Tavernier. Personally I felt he done ok, but there was a comment after the match which is much more noteworthy. During the interview on Sky, he said “we were happy with the point”. It’s the sort of soundbite fans hate to hear, especially Rangers supporters. However, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case. Players are not long finished the match, physically and emotionally tired. They have a microphone and camera aimed their way and are asked often banal questions. In many ways, they just give tired, easy answers to get through the thing and get back to the dressing room. I don’t believe Tavernier and the squad were happy with their performance or the draw. In this case, I think it was just a throw-away line he hasn’t fully considered.
I do concede that this is giving him the benefit of any doubt. There are serious concerns about the mentality of our squad. In many ways, sadly, they’ll be looking to get this season over with as quickly as the fans want it to be.
CELTIC v ABERDEEN
We’re now in a situation where Aberdeen, who haven’t come close to beating Celtic in a while, can secure second place with a win on the last day. Celtic have nothing to play for, and may even rest some players with the cup final in mind. Any sort of win for Aberdeen will now be seen as “Celtic lying down”.
It’s understandable, of course. If we’re honest, the only fault there lies with ourselves. We’ve taken 10 points from a possible 12 off of Aberdeen. It’s a record most Rangers squads wouldn’t have against the Pittodrie side. To be a point behind them in this case is pretty poor. If Aberdeen do beat Celtic to finish ahead of us in second (and we’d have to do well to beat Hibernian away from home), there’s no point in blaming any sort of conspiracy or lax attitude from Celtic. We’ve had 38 games over the season to get this right. We deserve to finish wherever we end up in the league.
Steven McLean was the referee for the match last night. The last time he took charge of a big match involving Rangers was the semi-final against Motherwell. It’s more than fair to say he was very poor that day. In this match, he was every bit as bad. He allowed Aberdeen players to sway his decisions. There was a focus on Morelos, and everything he was involved in went against him. Bookings were very inconsistent, and some fouls were just ignored. It led to Rangers losing the head somewhat in the first half, no doubt remembering some of what had went on in previous matches.
And therein lies a debate in itself. We’re often told that Rangers are soft in this regard, that we don’t influence referees enough. If you look at last night, we had a man in charge who was routinely criticised for the way he handled one of our matches before. Even managers of other clubs commented on how poor he was that day. And yet it made no difference going into this match. Aberdeen players surrounded him and moaned in his face when a call went against them. When Dorrans done that, he got booked. Bates was booked for absolutely nothing, whilst McLean got away with multiple fouls. I’d love to be able to say it was just a poor game, but that doesn’t feel like it covers it.
Any comments on the points above? Anything else you’d like to discuss? Tweet us @abouttherangers and we’ll be happy to discuss!