It ISN’T necessarily goals you go to Kris Boyd for these days; it’s honesty. The Rangers striker is now making a name for himself as someone who tells it as it is. This has included a brutal assessment of his own contribution this season: “I am a failure,” he said, bluntly, last month.
The striker, who has scored just three league goals this season, has now turned his withering gaze on Rangers. He knows they are under-performing at the moment. The Ibrox side’s prospects won’t improve, he believes, until they can re-assert their authority. At the moment, they are preparing to accept their fate rather too meekly. Opponents can sense an opportunity when they come up against them.
Friday night’s limp 1-1 draw with Falkirk meant Rangers passed up the opportunity to return to second place in the Championship. Boyd accepts they fell short both in terms of result and the manner of performance. Falkirk took the game to Rangers and, by the end, interim manager Kenny McDowall conceded that his team had to be happy with a point.
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Hibs made no mistake the following day when beating Alloa Athletic to ensure they went four points clear of third-place Rangers. Crucially, the Ibrox side have three games in hand over Hibs. But Boyd believes this will count for little unless Rangers can learn how to bare their teeth again.
“In years gone past teams have feared coming up against Rangers, whereas right now I don’t think that’s the case,” he said, in a damning indictment of the current Ibrox side. “Teams are going up against us and trying to play and are confident of winning the game. We need to get back to turning up and knowing that teams have got that fear factor against you.”
The results speak for themselves; Hibs have beaten Rangers each time they have played them in the league this season, as have Hearts. Even Falkirk, who suffered comprehensive defeats to the Ibrox side in their previous two meetings, bore few signs of apprehension during Friday night’s encounter.
“I think you can see that,” said Boyd. “When you look back over the performances of this campaign, I think teams are not sitting in against us and making themselves hard to beat, they are coming out and trying to beat us. I think for us we have struggled a lot because teams have done that against us.”
For someone like Boyd and team-mate Kenny Miller, who remember what it was once like at Ibrox, it is difficult to accept just a change in circumstances.
“Myself and players coming back remember being on the front foot against teams by creating chances and putting them under pressure, but it’s not been the case this season,” he said. “Is it down to other teams coming out and making it difficult for us? Is it down to the tighter pitches or whatever that we’ve not been able to impose our game on them? But it’s part and parcel of football. It’s where we are at this moment in time.”
On the face of it, a trip to face a team whose last match saw them concede ten goals seems like a perfect place to start restoring confidence, for Boyd personally as well as Rangers. But these days it sounds like the recipe for a pratfall. While Hearts go imperiously on their way at the top of the Championship following their 10-0 win over Cowdenbeath on Saturday, Rangers’ progress remains of the stuttering sort. Their next assignment is at Cowdenbeath this weekend.
After putting together a run of eight consecutive victories in October and November, the Ibrox side have won only six times in their last 15 outings. Agreeing that Hearts are now over the horizon, Boyd believes Rangers still have work to do to ensure they finish in the top four.
“Hopefully, we can get the head down and work hard for the rest of the season and get ourselves ready for the play-offs – if it is to be that because you’re not a given to be in them either with the teams round about us,” he said. “There’s a few fighting to be in them. We need to work hard between now and the end of the season to prove we’re still up to speed and beat the teams round about us.”
Friday’s EGM at Ibrox offers the chance to begin a healing process off-the-field. Boyd would not be drawn on what this could mean for the club or his own future, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.
“It’s not for me to speak about that – that’s matters above our head,” he said. “What we can concentrate on is going out on the pitch and winning games of football. As a football player, that’s all you can do, you are paid to go out and play football, represent your club and win games. And that’s all we can do, whatever happens in off-field matters has got nothing to do with us.”