So Kilmarnock has been and gone and while my predicted scoreline may have been monumentally wrong my warnings about finishing teams off, and developing a killer instinct, were rather portentous. Hopefully this will be rectified in training otherwise an awful lot of bears will be seeking treatment at the same Out Patient Department as Darius, and I’m not referring to the Rangers supporting Pop Star, I’m thinking more of the forgotten acquisition from this Saturday’s opponents who has been nigh on invisible for several years.
If I could take you back to the World Cup for a minute I’m sure most would agree that the best team won, and that Ronaldo was one of the best players, if not the best. However I would like to point out an attitude they had that went a long way towards their victory, an attitude we will need if we are to put ourselves in a position to challenge for the League, and an attitude which was missing at Rugby Park. For the first goal of the World Cup Final a Brazilian attack had broken down and Ronaldo had lost possession and was on the ground. He picked himself up and chased back to tackle Dietmar Hamann and as the ball broke he was running back into position to attack. As Rivaldo shaped to shoot he was racing into position to slide in the rebound and swing the result Brazil’s way with the resultant opening goal.
"What the Hell has this got to do with Rangers?" you may well ask but I would argue that it has everything to do with us because if this sort of ‘never say die’ attitude is good enough for the best player in the world then surely it is good enough for the squad at Ibrox. McLeish himself said recently "There comes a time in a professional’s career when he no longer has the will or the motivation and when that happens he will know it’s time to stop playing for Rangers".
Thinking of last Saturday’s sterile attacking performance this is a problem the gaffer might have to address sooner rather than later although, as he said himself, it’s too early to be panicking yet. I don’t wish to name names but I think there are a few players who should heed Mr McLeish’s words.
This Saturday sees the boys from the banks of the Dee turning out at Ibrox in our first competitive home fixture so hopefully there will be a vociferous crowd getting fully behind the team in an effort to spur them on. Dundee aren’t the happiest visitors to Ibrox having won only 13 out of 67 Premier League fixtures, going down 2-0, and 2-1 here last season, although the season before they triumphed 2-0 in their only visit before the League split.
Dundee kicked off their campaign exactly as we did, with a 1-1 draw against Hearts in a game they should have won by all accounts.
Assuming that even Outer Mongolian tribesmen can take it as a given that Michael Ball is injured then the rest of the squad is injury free for Saturday and we could theoretically have a few changes to look forward to. Unfortunately the display against Leeds did little to pose the gaffer selection problems and the changes may be mostly positional. One up front isn’t working very well and I have the suspicion that for a home game Alex may ring the changes here and play an attacking pair of Flo and Arveladze with the Danish flyer doing his damage out wide.
Midfield will probably be the same although De Boer’s work rate hopefully won’t be. A fabulous first fifteen minutes at Rugby Park degenerated into the usual exhibition of shoulder shrugging and apportioning of blame and a more concerted effort is required this week or else young Stephen Hughes may be getting stripped. A rock steady defence will be needed at this early stage as teams still have their metaphorical tails up and will not capitulate as easily as they might after Christmas. I take us for a 2-0 or 2-1 victory to get the season back on track but am very aware that mistakes can be punished harshly.