John Hartson: Rangers players showed no desire. It was shocking

John Hartson says it's easy to point the finger at Rangers boss Graeme Murty but insists the players were to blame for Sunday's defeat by Celtic.
John Hartson says it's easy to point the finger at Rangers boss Graeme Murty but insists the players were to blame for Sunday's defeat by Celtic.
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A failed medical prevented striker John Hartson from signing for Rangers from Wimbledon in 2000. The Welshman refused to allow knee problems to derail his career, however, and joined Celtic 12 months later.

Then again, Hartson has always been a battler, as he proved beyond doubt when he recovered from testicular, brain and lung cancer in 
2009.

Consequently, while he can accept that footballers might lack certain skill sets, he cannot understand any player who refuses to fight for the cause.

He watched Rangers surrender to Celtic in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden and could not believe how cowed Graeme Murty’s charges have become. They have now failed to win any of their ten meetings with Brendan Rodgers’ side and Hartson can see no grounds for optimism for the blue half of Glasgow.

“Their performance showed that; they were battered and could have lost by seven or eight,” he said. “It was embarrassing. They showed no desire, they didn’t get close to them, they didn’t even close down; it was as if they were in awe [of Celtic]. They were just sitting back.

“It’s an Old Firm game. Rangers beat Celtic a couple of years ago when Ronny Deila was the manager, they beat them on penalties and they never let Celtic settle for one second. From the first whistle they were right in their faces, up against them.

“They showed hard work, commitment, everything that day and they got the result but there was none of that at the weekend. You’re sitting back and going: ‘Is this a testimonial?’ Celtic were bumping it to each other and no-one laid a glove on Scott Brown.

“It was just shocking. The Rangers players need to go away and look at themselves because they play for a big club.

“The fans demand better than that and Graeme Murty wants better than that.”

Hartson was particularly scathing about the lack of influence exerted by the more experienced players such as Graham Dorrans, Russell Martin and Jamie Murphy at the national stadium.

“When I played in Old Firm games I knew my role and responsibilities and what it meant to the fans. It is everything to them,” he said.

“When you pull that blue shirt on for Rangers, you’re playing for the badge, for the fans and for your family.

“They showed nothing [on Sunday] and they’ve got a lot to answer for.

“Never mind Murty, it’s easy to point the blame at him and say he’s inexperienced and picked the wrong team, but that’s nonsense. The players are to blame.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say they aren’t good enough but I would say they just pooed it. They went out there and couldn’t deal with the crowd, couldn’t deal with the pressure. They weren’t tough enough psychologically and showed no character.

“None of their experienced players turned up and that’s the problem. They have to look at themselves.

“The Celtic team I played in had senior players like Neil Lennon who would let you know in no uncertain terms if you weren’t pulling your weight. You don’t even need to be playing well to let 
other people know; when Lenny was having a nightmare himself, which wasn’t very often, he’d still point the 
finger.

“That’s a good captain. He was given that responsibility by the manager to go and sort things out.

“If I wasn’t getting on the ball or I was sloppy, then he’d be barking in my ear – and that’s what senior players do.

“Rangers had a few out there but it really was a mismatch at the weekend.”