Rangers-Celtic reaction: Beale game plan incoherent mess; Rodgers already equal of Postecoglou; sexist tifo?
Following the first derby of the season between the two Glasgow giants, Andrew Smith digests the situations, and a potential banner faux pas, below.
Beale game plan incoherent mess
The totalling of Michael Beale’s capabilities by his own supporters in the wake of a hideously damaging derby defeat centred on what his team set out to do against a weakened Celtic. As the visitors clearly sought to pick their way up the pitch by daring to pass across their backline before funnelling the ball through Callum McGregor, the strategy of their opponents was difficult to discern. Beale’s issue is that his team appear to have no real identity, no real style. They did not press high on Celtic, or have a player clamped to McGregor – as has paid dividends for them in past Ibrox derbies. In the first period, the tactic seemed to be to hit hopeful long balls, perhaps in the belief that this would expose the expected vulnerable centre-back pairing of Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbielke. When this did not work, with Rabbie Matondo and Kemar Roofe’s pace largely negated by the approach, in the second period they began to work the ball wide. But did so without tempo, and too often without the deliveries from these areas to disrupt the Celtic backline. Beale’s strength is considered his coaching, but – result aside – why so many of the Ibrox faithful have now given up on him is that his strategies against the club’s bitter rivals appeared to amount to an incoherent mess.
Rodgers already the equal of Postecoglou
The pining for Ange Postecoglou from the Celtic fanbase likely won’t end any time soon, especially if the Australian continues to build on a brilliant Premier League start with Tottenham Hotspur. Postecoglou’s top-flight accomplishments in his two years at Celtic will be rightly gloried over for generations, but there was one outlier. In part because of the timings of these games – it should be noted – his record at Ibrox wasn’t anything to write home about. Only an 88th-minute Kyogo Furuhashi equaliser in the 2-2 draw at the start of this year for an off-colour Celtic prevented Postecoglou suffering three defeats in his four visits to the Govan ground. A backs-to-the-wall second half in which Celtic were pinned in far more than the second half yesterday secured him the 2-1 in April 2022 that brought him his solitary victory in an Ibrox derby. In the space of one such visit, Brendan Rodgers has equalled Postecoglou on that winning measure. And in circumstances more unpromising as his predecessor faced in the last year-and-a-half of his tenure on such visits.
There was no question that the tifo covering the full Broomloan Stand – held in position by the first pulley system to be introduced for such displays in British football, Rangers chief executive James Bisgrove revealed in programme notes – was an impressive sight. With the display three-dimensional as a sheet-drawing of a supporter holding up his son was hoisted up in front of another stretching across the whole end was a stunning painting of the Ibrox gates. However, with Rangers for anyone, everyone, it jarred that a line from the believed-to-be recently composed Union Bears song The Famous RFC that ran along the bottom declared ‘all our sons will be like me’. What about the daughters? Casual sexism appeared at play. Not clever, as was the early minutes belting out by the home support of the UEFA-proscribed The Billy Boys, with its exhortations of violence against those of Irish Catholic heritage.
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