Rangers 1 – 0 Celtic
My first article of the new decade,and it is the review of our first match of the new decade. If the last one ended badly and we all wanted to see the back of it,this one sure didn’t start very well either. And in fact there was a definite whiff of familiarity to it for those who remember the 90s and the late noughties too,as we dominated and lost to a mix of a sucker punch and refereeing masterclass in game management.
If this is rock ‘n’ roll,can I have my old job back,eh?
I’ve seen it said that it’s difficult to blame NL for yesterday,as he picked pretty much the team that most of us would have from the players available. That we totally dominated until the sending off which changed the game. Etc,etc,etc. That he can’t be blamed for X,Y or Z as it happened. Well,in over two years of writing these reviews I have tried to avoid the blame game-I save that for my later articles if I haven’t calmed down!-and I’ll try to stick to that. But…
We began with,on paper,a flat four-none of whom is a natural defender but who have found themselves shoehorned into it. In fact,the nearest to that is Laxalt,who manages to combine being a tough tackling defender and midfielder AND left winger while being a master of none. As was proven when it was his defensive channel being empty that led to the sending off. Ajer who usually plays on the left of a two-despite only using his left leg as a partner for his useful one when overtaking their Kent lorry park-had to play on the right to cover the absence of Frimpers at full back.
Frimpers himself was the subject of much criticism,mainly for his final ball-but he was hampered somewhat that every time he looked up for his rightsided partner,Christie was daydreaming about some imaginary bumper contract offered to superstars just like him.
I’ve got news for you,Ryan. 27 months ago you showed that you were listening to the coaching of BR. For maybe a year at most,that shone through in your performances. Now,the Celtic jersey doesn’t shrink to fit inferior players-but nor does it stretch to accommodate bloated egos. You are back to the nobody you were thirty months ago,and only you can fix that. But kindly not at the expense of your colleagues,who have enough on their plate.
With Soro shoring up the middle,CalMac and DT were free to roam,Griff looked the biz and Eddy was,oh I dunno these days. And we mullered them in the first half! Only some tremendous keeping from McGregor kept us out-and one of his saves from Griff was simply breathtaking. We had them under the cosh,and with wave after wave of pressure and corner after corner should have taken advantage.
Indeed,we might have too-except all of our corners were low to the near post with no-one around the spot or the back post for the second phase. And our coach saw no reason to change that,despite facing a keeper notorious for charging into players with fists,knees and feet.
The huns really had no answer to us in the first half-but Madden did. Niggly fouls to break up play,his usual carte blanche for Morelos when he was “a little bit silly” by raking Frimpers down the Achilles,and booking Soro-which to be fair,was deserved even if he had too often penalised him for nothing. And so to the second half…
This centred on the two people who had most effect on the result.
Firstly,Madden sent off Bitton,away on a wander and caught wrong side as usual. This is not unexpected when you play a guy who thinks he’s a midfielder,of course. But although clearly worthy of a card,was it the game-changing red? Was Morelos deprived of a CLEAR goalscoring opportunity? Morelos was well to the right of goal and about 35 yards out,and to get the ball under control would have taken him even wider. Ajer was sprinting across from central to cover,and any shot would have been across goal. I think it fails the sniff test,where a referee MUST be 100% convinced of that punishment.
He didn’t even bother to consult his linesman,pulled out the card quicker than with a tenner in the bookies-allegedly. Red,and our manager had some decisions to make. Who to take off to get Shane Duffy on?
Aw,fuxake. Double substitution. Okay,let’s think about a double substitution under those circumstances. A big if,but IF you really want to disrupt the side to the extent that THREE players are replaced,for me the obvious choice was Duffy and Elhamed,go three at the back. Take off Christie and Frimpers as Elhamed and Ajer can bomb up that side anyway. He took off Turnbull and Griffiths,our two likeliest looking players when we were already a goal down-and brought on Elyounoussi who only bloody gets in Eddie’s way most of the time!
Och,I give up. I’ll leave it at that,let the rest of you have your turn. I could have put my foot through the telly at that stage-instead,I opened a bottle and toasted better days,and maybe better to come. Celtic fans have persevered through worse than this,we rarely get a result there at this time of year,etc. But for all that,I can’t see ANY possibility of improvement,not while NL remains in charge.
And Saturday surely proved that.
Above article by BMCUWP