Van Bronckhorst needs a host of different personnel
Rangers did enough to win a game at Ibrox last night … and so temporarily ease the growing pressure on Giovanni van Bronckhorst. But the general sluggishness of the display, save for upping the ante in the closing stages, meant they continue to look anything like a team with enough to win the championship. To eat into the seven-point gap held by Celtic they will have to produce more attacking thrust, creativity and conviction on a regular basis. That surely can only be achieved by different personnel.
It is not the fault of the Dutchman that he has been stymied from making many changes to his line-ups as a result of horrendous injuries problems. He said at the end of his post-match that it was not “definite” all his sidelined squad members would be available when the season resumes following the five-week break for the World Cup, which for the Ibrox men follows their away day against St Mirren on Saturday. He needs them to be. Rangers would surely offer more in all departments if Tom Lawrence, Ianis Hagi, Kemar Roofe, Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara, Connor Goldson, Filip Helander and Ridvan Yilmaz were fit and pushing for regular inclusion. Squad depth drives up standards. This band might not be the difference between Rangers scrapping all the way for the title and not. But without such reinforcements, they appear guaranteed to fall well short.
Odd Remembrance tone
No-one doubts the sincerity of Rangers’ tributes to the men and women of the armed forces who have given their lives protecting the country – essentially how, over the tannoy, was described the club’s Remembrance commemorations before kick-off against Hearts. For them, the phrase ‘lest we forget’, accompanied by poppies, was the mosaic created by supporters holding up coloured squares of paper in the Sandy Jardine Stand. In the Broomloan Stand, meanwhile, below more poppy card displays, was a banner with a World War I battlefield image above the words ‘let me tell you a story of honour and glory’. These made for an impressive sight.
Yet, solemnity traditionally underpins such occasions. It was jarring, then, that before a gun salute book-ended to an impeccably observed minute’s silence, against this backdrop it was decided to have the club’s anthem, Tina Turner’s Simply The Best, blast out from the PA system. Especially when the screeching saxophone break gave off serious rock concert vibes. The clash of tones felt odd.
Where was Hearts’ ambition?
The Tynecastle manager Robbie Neilson said he was pleased with his team’s performance, despite the outcome. He talked of his men being organised and defending well as they sought to nullify their hosts. Fair enough, since that was the case. However, Hearts were utterly devoid in the final third, and overall exhibited zero ambition beyond hoisting the odd long ball forward for Josh Ginnelly to attempt to chase down. Surely more is entitled to be expected of a team determined to be best of the rest again, the third force in the Scottish game?
Rangers: McGregor 6; Tavernier 6, King 6, Davies 6, Barisic 6; Sands 5 (Arfield 46, 5), Lundstam 5; Matondo 4 (Wright 61, 6), Tillman 8 (Kamara 85, n/a), Kent 7, Colak 5 (Morelos 67, 6). Hearts: Gordon 6; Smith 5, Sibbick 6, Rowles 7, Cochrane 6; Devlin 4 (Kiomourtzoglou 77, n/a), Snodgrass 5; Atkinson 5 (Forrest 67, 3), Shankland 4, Halliday 5 (McKay 67, 3); Ginnelly 5 (Henderson 77, n/a)