Aberdeen v Rangers reaction: Manager of year candidate, Ibrox ace needs a transfer, fan fisticuffs
Barry Robson: Manager of the year contender?
No one could have seen this coming. Not just Aberdeen finishing third from the position they were in but the manner in which they are doing it. When Jim Goodwin left they were ten points behind Hearts, third at the time, heading in one direction and one direction only. Dysfunctional and shipping goals at an alarming rate. With largely the same squad of players, aided by a couple of very shrewd additions, they are a team which is set up to compete and succeed in Scottish football. Five clean sheets in a row and capable of big results. They are so well organised and structured with and without the ball. Of course, Ange Postecoglou is favourite to scoop the manager of the year award, while Stephen Robinson could be in the running, perhaps even Jim Goodwin for what he has done at Dundee United but there have been few transformations, in such a short space of time, as there has been at Pittodrie. Barry Robson is continuing to prove he is a very, very, very good manager.
There has been so much said and written about Duk. Understandably so. He is a tremendous talent who has consigned Bojan Miovski to a supporting act. The North Macedonian scored his 18th of the season at Pittodrie on Sunday and it may well have been his best performance in a red shirt. This writer feels he can sometimes spend too much time on the periphery compared to Duk. That wasn’t the case against Rangers. “I thought Bojan was outstanding working his way back defensively,” Robson said. “The distances he covered were incredible and that is not easy against a team like Rangers. He terrorised poor Ben Davies. There was a moment in the first half where the Rangers centre-back was so unsure that he opted against attacking a ball that was his, allowing the striker to bring it under control. He engaged the visiting defence and used his pace to stretch it. The crowning moment his display deserved came in the second half with a sublime header back across Allan McGregor which nestled in the back of the net. Also, what a pass from Leighton Clarkson. Madre mia!
Rangers in need of 7
Michael Beale has spoken of needing five players at least in the summer to get the team to where it needs to be, where he wants it to be. Looking at the starting XI against Aberdeen it could be argued there were only four who could be deemed as first-team regulars next season. James Tavernier, Nico Raskin, Todd Cantwell and Malik Tillman if the club take up an option on the Bayern Munich loanee. Beale has spoken of having goalkeepers in mind and hinted that Alfredo Morelos will be away. There were performances from individuals where rather than playing their way into becoming first-team regulars in what will likely be a new look Rangers side, they were doing the opposite. This isn’t a squad, a team which can currently be trusted to win leagues, to win trophies on a consistent basis.
If there was a positive from Rangers it was the performance of John Souttar. He has had very difficult moments this season, on and off the pitch. He was the team’s best player by far with the way he handled Duk, covered fro Davies, timed his challenges and stood up physically. It was one of those displays which showed he is more than ready and more than good enough for Rangers.
A penny for the thoughts of the 25-year-old goalkeeper. At Pittodrie he was out early to work with Colin Stewart. As Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin, the clubs No.1 and No.2 respectively, limbered up with some stretches, Robby McCrorie faced shots into a goal off to the side of the actual goal in front of the Red Shed. He has still to add to his two competitive outings for the club. He was the third man in the Granite City. “I want to give Jon access to playing because he’s been here a long time and he did well in the season we won the title,” Beale said back in February before adding that he wanted “to give Robby the same opportunity as well”. That opportunity has yet to arrive. Not helped by an ankle injury which kept him out of action for a period. He has a deal until 2025 but as things stand it doesn't look like he will get a chance to stake his claim for the No.1 spot next season, let alone get the No.1 spot next season. Very highly rated and still amongst the Scotland fold until recently. But he needs to play games. Being a third or even second wheel at Rangers is not going to help him develop. It is not going to allow him to be the goalkeeper many hoped and expected. This summer is a significant one for the goalkeeper, whether it is permanently or on loan, McCrorie’s future should be away from Ibrox.
Dons v Rangers hostility
Rangers legend Barry Ferguson spoke about it in the build-up to the match at Pittodrie. “Let’s not beat about the bush, they absolutely hated us up there and we felt it in the air every time we stepped off that bus," he wrote in his Daily Record column. “The fans outside and inside the ground couldn’t hide their disgust at the sight of a Rangers shirt.” It is a fixture that exudes hostility. It can make for a fierce and tense atmosphere, very much in a good way, and can translate onto the pitch. Also off of it, away from the ground. Into the city, coming up around Virgina Street onto Commerce Street then across the roundabout onto Park Street. Only, that was the plan. A police van was blocking the way. Within seconds scores of Rangers fans were pouring out of Saltoun Arms, a watering hole in the Granite City frequented by those of a blue persuasion, towards what appeared to be a group of Dons fans clad all in black. As supporters hid their faces, the numerous police on duty had their hands full trying to keep the peace. Car into reverse and for a new route to Pittodrie then.
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