That's The Way To Do It - Big Eck Confounds EVERYONE!
Like so many of us, I didn’t fancy it last Tuesday night. The team
selection, the tactics applied and the general performances over the
previous month had been puzzling, the results were disheartening and,
in all honesty, although there was plenty of room for improvement, it
was hard to see where the big lift was going to come from. Dado Prso
apart, everyone was playing well below par and, without a settled side,
it looked like we could stumble from one mis-hap to the next.
Yet as we got to within a mile or so of Ibrox, there was a tangible
buzz in the air, an inexplicable feelgood factor which hinted that it
might turn out fine after all. It was crystal clear the fans – real
Rangers fans ain’t quite so thin on the ground, Alex! - were determined
to do their bit to lift the team out of the rut, there was a feeling of
togetherness about it all and, even when we gave each other that
puzzled look when the line-up was announced, the way we got behind the
players made it great to be part of a memorable occasion.
And Big Eck merits a big pat on the back for getting it right. I
certainly wouldn’t have picked the team he did but his team did the
business and, regardless of all the newspaper nonsense which seems to
have grudged Rangers victory, the players deserve great credit for the
job they did and for their determination to go all out for victory when
other sides might have been inclined to settle for a draw.
Having wrong-footed Co Adriaanse with his team selection, the Freckled
One lived a charmed life for long periods. Although Porto were well
ahead of Rangers in terms of technique and tactical awareness, the way
our team kept its shape, despite the opposition’s mobility, made us
hard to beat and, when a game is tight, it doesn’t take much to tip the
balance one way or the other.
Blue Peter’s opener was against the run of play but he took it well and
for the remainder of the first half we were in control. The clash of
heads between Prso and Pedro Emanuel was unfortunate, as was Dado to
get booked, although I daresay we would’ve been screaming ourselves
hoarse if our player had been the victim. Subsequently, Timothy has
been quick to get on to the hot-lines and the phone-ins. Don’t be
surprised to hear that the Procurator Fiscal, in response to a
complaint from a concerned member of the public, is studying a tape of
Meanwhile, I always felt we needed a second goal because nothing was
more certain than Adriaanse reshaping his team at the break and coming
back at us in the second half. We got the message something like 90
seconds after the restart. Losing the goal so early, the combination of
Rangers being deflated and Porto getting the lift was worrying. Oh ye
of little faith.
Big Dado, who would already have been showered and suited if the
Mhuppets had their way, came up trumps again, although his goal had a
few ‘expert’s querying its validity. At first glance, I suppose I
half-expected the ref to whistle. After all, with Continental
goalkeepers benefitting from what amounts to an exclusion zone around
them, Vitor Baia probably thought he was untouchable and I don’t
suppose there would have been too much of an outcry if the goal had
But watching the video later, it was clear the keeper crapped it. If he
had gone for the ball with some conviction, it would have been well
nigh impossible for Dado not to foul him but there was always at least
a yard between the big pony-tail and the keeper and it was not until
the ball was actually in the net that they finally came into contact,
albeit merely brushing against each other.
The most disappointing factor was that there was still more than
half-an-hour to play and predictably Porto again responded to the
setback. We had a few close calls before they finally got the equaliser
and the comic cuts defending at the corner kick really had steam coming
out of my ears. Worse still, with 20 minutes left, I feared that it
would all turn sour.
At this point my mind drifted to the various republican slophouses
which now shamefully prosper in the madness of Joke McConnell’s
Scotland. I could see them all, gloating, rubbing their hands in
anticipation of a big finish from Porto and looking forward to the
morning papers and the seemingly mandatory sneering reaction from the
Hack Packers. With the game balanced on a knife-edge, they were poised
to pounce and stick the knife right into our club. Hey, GIRUY!!!
Baz’s perfect chip and Soto’s well directed header settled the issue,
although our ‘friends’ in the media had to underline the point that
Porto were reduced to ten men at this point (just as Artmedia were when
they couldn’t stitch a jersey Hartson had tried to rip from a player’s
back). But Eck deserves praise here too. It was his formation which
forced Adriaanse to make changes earlier than he might have intended so
that when Sokota took a knock, as any player can do, Porto had used
their full quota of subs.
It was a big victory for the Freckled One over one of the top coaches
in Europe, although I’m a bit miffed to hear him repeating his line
about Alex McLeish fans and ‘real’ Rangers fans, as if anyone who
questions McLeish is not a real Rangers fan. Big Eck is well off-beam
here. None of us take any pleasure from doubting the manager. Our
concerns have been valid and voicing them doesn’t make us any less
committed to the cause than those who meekly sit back and pretend that
all in the garden is rosy.
But that argument is for another day. For now, we should enjoy the
success, it was a good start, a victory which can only lift the
players, both individually and collectively, and the result might mark
the turning point of an unconvincing start to the season. The manager’s
team selection for Saturday’s clash with Kilmarnock and the outcome of
that game should offer something of a clue as to how the next few
months might unfold.
Meanwhile, with Inter winning in Bratislava, despite losing Veron on a
red card (he now misses the game against Rangers), the scene is set for
our visit to an empty San Siro. Without the crowd behind them, Inter
must get by on ability alone – that’s them fecked then!!! – but Rangers
have already shown that they can cope with opponents who have a more
gifted technique. Playing in an empty stadium will be strange for both
sets of players so much will depend on who adapts best. The Porto
performance showed that our team is, if nothing else, very adaptable.
Without getting carried away, we are better off than so many after the
midweek action. In addition to Artmedia losing to Inter, Werder Bremen,
Olympiakos, Rapid Vienna, Bruges and Real Betis all lost home games and
are now playing catch-up. Sparta Prague had to settle for a draw with
Ajax when they would surely have fancied their chances of picking up
all three points and Real Madrid must be worried after getting a proper
doing in Lyon.
All in all, it was a good week for us Brits, with Liverpool and Chelsea
taking a grip of Group G - they must guard against cutting each other’s
throats and letting Real Betis back into the equation - Arsenal opening
with a win, albeit unconvincingly, and ManUre surviving Loony Rooney’s
brainstorm to get a point at Villareal.
It is far too early to attach too much significance to the opening
round of results…but as any ‘real’ Rangers fan will tell you, it is
always better to have kicked off with a win.
LITTLE BOY BLUE