The 1-1 draw against Motherwell was, to use the age-old cliche, very much a game of two halves. In the first half Rangers were utterly dreadful and in the second period, Pedro Caixinha showed the kind of attitude that I may have never seen before in all of my time going to Ibrox.
The entire first half was brutal; I could sugarcoat it, but there is no point in doing that. After last week’s performance against Hamilton, I was expecting a continuation of the fast start and style of play we adopted against Accies. However, the first 45 minutes had to be up there with some of the worst football we have played all season. Nothing, absolutely nothing, went right at all.
We went behind again due to conceding sloppily at a set-piece. I am glad to have a little file of my most used phrases saved because that means I only had to copy and paste the words schoolboy defending to describe Lee Wallace’s part in the goal instead of typing it out. He was so easily spun by Motherwell’s main goal threat, Louis Moult, and that allowed him to be free just a few yards from goal to finish – it was absolute nonsense stuff. Wallace has to toughen up in those situations, he must get hold of his man and not allow him to get free; he may run the risk of giving away a penalty but they are very rarely given for such incidents at corner kicks.
Attacking-wise, we were absolutely awful. We only had one real effort at goal in the first half through Martyn Waghorn. To be honest, during the rest of the half we were outmuscled in the middle of the park, second to every second ball and were all over the place. We actually resorted to going long to Waghorn, he was getting frustrated, and rightly so, because he was repeatedly outnumbered and lost all but one ball in the air.
It was far, far too easy for Motherwell and absolutely pitiful from us. They bossed the first half. It’s the best I have saw them play at Ibrox since they won the first leg of the play-off semi-final two years ago. They were well worth their lead at half-time. Absolutely no complaints in that regard. My complaints were with my own side, who were terrible.
However, I did not foresee the triple substitution and change in system from 4-2-3-1 to something like a 3-5-2, if we can call it that, at half-time – it didn’t resemble any kind of formation at all, in truth.
Attack, attack, attack! That was the story of the second half. We used a 3-5-2, with Kiernan, Halliday and Jon Toral as a back three, Kenny Miller, Holt, and Hyndman were flanked by Michael O’Halloran and Barrie McKay and Joe Garner joined Waghorn in a front two.
However, with the bodies flying forward in search of goals, our midfield was badly exposed and that meant Motherwell would get at our back three with just one pass. Wes Foderingham had to pull off three top-class saves to stop them from going further ahead. However, the double-saved he made was nothing short of majestic. It still amazes me that some of our fans go out their way to find faults in every single one of his performances.
We started the second half with a high tempo and completely went for it. Motherwell seemed to be shocked by the change of shape and time after time Hyndman got behind the Motherwell defence to join the front two. Joe Garner levelled with 60 mins gone – he scored from an impossible angle to give us a point in the end, but he was left frustrated when Craig Samson matched Wes Foderingham’s goalkeeping display and pulled off two very good stops.
Wes Foderingham fully deserved his man-of-the-match award, I dread to think where we would be without the number of crucial saves he has made this season.
By the time the final whistle went, I think everyone in the stadium was left out of breath with the end-to-end nature of the second half. It was more like a basketball match than a football match. However, the truth is, this team has failed yet again. They are now 10 points behind Aberdeen and look almost certain to finish below Derek McInnes’ side.
It’s embarrassing, but we are where we are. The players have two tough away games next week and they need to respond.
Maybe by the time Wednesday night comes around for the trip to Kilmarnock, I will have my breath back.
But this match was just a reminder that the majority of this squad will not do going forward and that the club will have to go through a major rebuilding job, player-wise, for the third summer on the trot.
Thankfully, this nightmare season is reaching its end.