James Tavernier sought no hiding place following his Rangers team’s hiding in yesterday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with the Ibrox captain decrying his team-mates’ efforts as so “embarrassing” that it was justifiable the club’s faithful were “disgusted” by the performance.
On an afternoon that Rangers fell apart on the pitch, unity was torn apart in the club’s playing and supporting ranks. The Hampden slopes housing the Rangers support were emptied long before the whistle sounded on the 4-0 evisceration by their rivals.
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Those who left early missed the Ibrox club’s striker Alfredo Morelos venting his anger towards team-mate Greg Docherty as the teams trooped off the field – Bruno Alves requiring to act as peace-maker. Earlier, the Portuguese centre-back had to calm Andy Halliday as he pointed and made an abusive comment when taking his seat in the Rangers bench area in the stand after he had been hauled off in the 40th minute following Celtic’s second goal.
Tavernier said “100 per cent” there were strong words between the pair in the aftermath of their eighth defeat across a record ten-game winless run in the derby over the past 19 months. The 26-year-old team-mate had no compunction about adding to these as he became the one Rangers player to appear in the mixed zone afterwards. His demeanour was of a man who had taken the abject nature of Rangers’ latest blitzing in the derby personally.
“It was embarrassing,” he said. “The bare minimum we ask from all our players is to show fight, passion and energy and we just didn’t show that today. It was embarrassing to come off that pitch after a performance like that. It’s not good enough for this club and it’s not good enough for our fans.
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“I can only apologise as much as I can [to them]. They turn out in their numbers, the people watching today will be disgusted in the performance we put in and so they should be because it was a very, very poor performance.”
Tavernier was at a loss as to explain why the bare minimum of effort alluded his team. “Honestly, I can’t tell you,” he said. “It comes down to individuals. Ultimately, you come to Rangers Football Club to play in these big games and to stand out, show what you’re made of, and it wasn’t there today.”
He had “no idea” if the occasion got to the Rangers players. “You can speak about the occasion, obviously it was massive match for both clubs but all I ask from my players is the bare minimum, to show energy around the pitch and putting in a fight and we showed a lack of that, which disappoints me.”
The Englishman dismissed the suggestion that there might have been a hangover from the pair’s last meeting at Ibrox five weeks ago.
Then Graeme Murty’s men contrived to squander a glorious opportunity for a win, losing 3-2 despite being tied at 2-2 when Celtic were reduced to ten men with more than half an hour remaining. “Not at all,” he said of that contention. “We train every single day and the energy levels are there but we were second best in almost everything today – second balls, first balls, it was just unacceptable for Rangers.”
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Even from the earliest moments, Celtic looked in the mood to dismantle opponents that appeared in precisely the fragile, feckless state to be unable to prevent them doing so. The wonder of it was that it took as long as 22 minutes for Celtic to open the scoring and set the rout in motion.
“I was expecting all my boys to get at it [but] you could see in the early stages we were losing possession too easily when we had the ball,” Tavernier said. “I spoke about being ruthless in our defence, cutting out mistakes but mistakes cost us yet again and it’s just not good enough.”