Rangers profit as Neil McCann loses patience with Scott Allan
In the event, Rangers fans barely had the chance to give him any sort of treatment, harsh or otherwise, since Allan was only on the pitch for 38 minutes. Debate raged over whether he was withdrawn due to injury, sacrificed for tactical reasons or simply pulled off because he was so poor.
Neil McCann, the Dundee manager, later sought to clear it up, revealing the player had been suffering from a groin strain all week.
Yet it was clear things were not going to plan. Rangers were profiting down Dundee’s left, where Allan was, ostensibly, meant to be. McCann was spotted urging him to track back on more than one occasion.
More tellingly, perhaps, was the sight of 22-year-old centre-half Jack Hendry screaming at Allan, below, to show more game awareness.
“It was just about making him aware that Rangers were coming down that side quite a lot in the first spell of the game,” explained Hendry afterwards. “I just had a quick talk to discuss his position on the pitch. That’s all it was.”
Perhaps. But it’s not a great look for a senior pro like Allan to be bawled at by a youngster, even if Hendry is playing beyond his years. Along with even younger defensive partner Kerr Waddell, who’s just 19, Hendry was one of Dundee’s successes.
Allan, however, continues to prove enigmatic. Perhaps it was his attempted flick “round the corner” in the middle of the park and which gifted Rangers possession that finally made McCann run out of patience with the 25-year-old.
Whatever the reason, it wasn’t how Allan wished his latest appearance on such a grand stage as Ibrox to pan out; cheered to the rafters after his shirt number was flashed up on the fourth assistant’s board. “I just felt he was labouring a bit,” said McCann.
Allan made way for A-Jay Leitch-Smith and sat stewing on the bench as Dundee conceded the opening goal just two minutes after his departure. The timing of Alfredo Morelos’ first goal was unfortunate if McCann had wanted to avoid the Allan situation becoming an issue.
While vulnerable down one flank in particular, Dundee hadn’t looked completely out of it in these ragged opening stages. Had a couple of final balls been better they might well have hurt Rangers, who had chances themselves blocked by Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain.
Even after Rangers opened the scoring through Morelos on 40 minutes Dundee could have drawn level, notably just after half-time when first Roarie Deacon and then Waddell went close with headers.
However, Rangers substitute Josh Windass scored the goal that settled matters, heading in the impressive Daniel Candeias’ cross.
Two late goals by Carlos Pena, his first for the club, and Morelos again possibly provided a more accurate reflection of the game.
A consolation strike by Dundee’s Faissal El Bakhtaoui was a reward for the visitors’ endeavours on a difficult afternoon. They have now slipped back to the foot of the league.
McCann sought to reassure fans. “I’m not happy but I’m not panicking,” he said. Dundee hit bottom place in October last season and still avoided the bottom two places come May, buoyed by McCann’s arrival for the last five games.
It’s now the same number of games into the current season and Dundee are still looking for their first win. McCann stressed he is here for longer than five matches this time, having initially been appointed on an interim basis. “I’m here for the long haul,” he said.
Dundee face a critical few weeks ahead, as do Rangers. But then the Ibrox club won’t be treating their next assignments with quite the same sense of trepidation as the Dens men.
Pedro Caixinha’s side will host Celtic after successive away trips to Firhill in both the league and League Cup. Graham Dorrans believes it has been continued improvement since the unforgivable Europa League defeat by Progres Niederkorn.
“I think we were [always] building momentum, at the start of the season with the friendlies we had, then against Hibs and Hearts we played really well,” said the midfielder. “In the Hibs game we got a man sent off. Against Hearts I thought we did enough to win but ultimately we didn’t. So it’s good to get a few results on the back of that and build momentum.”