Rangers defeat shows Kilmarnock almost ‘too good’ under Steve Clarke

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There was only one thing Kilmarnock got wrong at Ibrox on Saturday. That came post-match as Rugby Park defender, and former Govan performer Kirk Broadfoot lauded the efforts of his team in continuing their remarkable run with another landmark victory.

The latest polished performance by a team to which Steve Clarke seems able to constantly apply magical coaching Brasso was lauded by the 33-year-old because of where it was delivered.

Kilmarnock's Youssouf Mulumbu holds off Rangers' Jason Cummings at Ibrox on Saturday. Picture: SNS.

Kilmarnock's Youssouf Mulumbu holds off Rangers' Jason Cummings at Ibrox on Saturday. Picture: SNS.

“Not many teams come away from Ibrox with points,” said Broadfoot, “so to come away with three, we’re delighted.”

Fact is that so many teams have come away with all three points from Ibrox this season it is the first time the ground has witnessed seven away wins in a championship since 1914-15.

Indeed, with two wins apiece by Celtic and Hibernian at Ibrox, historic victories there by Hamilton Accies and St Johnstone and Kilmarnock and Hearts having posted draws when being hosted at the stadium, in reality it didn’t come as any great shock Clarke’s men brought up the anything-but-magnificent seven for Rangers at the weekend.

The Ayrshire club may have been coming off the back of a Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Aberdeen, but with that home elimination only coming as the result of a penalty shoot-out, it didn’t disrupt a run by Kilmarnock who have now lost only once in 90 minutes in their past 19 games.

The Rugby Park side might lie fifth but are on a par with any team in this league. Except for Aberdeen, the leading sides in the Premiership have proved capable of inflicting damage at Ibrox.

Kilmarnock would be capable of rivalling Graeme Murty’s men both for points and position had Clarke been applying his rare managerial prowess in Ayrshire three months before late October, when the club were floundering after taking only three points from the last eight games of Lee McCulloch’s tenure.

Interestingly, Broadfoot virtually admitted that Kilmarnock have almost been too good under Clarke, sparking fears that their form might spark interest in the manager and his players. “If we can keep him, then who knows what next season can bring?” said the former Scotland international.“I think, though, we will have a wee bit of interest in our players if we keep this run going. There will be a few guys getting a few bids come the summer. But, if we can keep hold of the gaffer and we get a pre-season under him, it’s only a bright future for 
Kilmarnock.”

The future for Murty as Rangers manager, meanwhile, has been thrown into serious doubt by both the home defeats by Celtic and Kilmarnock, and the manner of them. The Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic in three weeks’ time isn’t the be-all and end- all. With Aberdeen only two points behind Rangers having played a game fewer, the season could yet peter out for Murty in a way that would be harsh on the remedial work he has carried out on the squad.

On that front, after his howling miss that denied Rangers a draw in the derby against ten-man opposition, it was not unreasonable that Alfredo Morelos was dropped to the bench to accommodate Jason Cummings. The on-loan Nottingham Forrest striker didn’t make his opportunity count.

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd did. The 34-year-old gobbled up a two-yarder in the middle of the goal and the matchwinner took his tally for the season to 20, 16 in the league – totals that outstrip all others in the 
Scottish set-up.

That his rejuvenation has come under Clarke can hardly be coincidental, and Boyd must be in the frame for the player-of-the year honours. Clarke is certainly manager-of-the-year material.