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The Calm Before the Storm


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New site member Rousseau gives us his thoughts on recent match performances and how we are feeling as fans.

 

This is another fine main site writing debut so I'd appreciate people clicking the link if you can:

 

http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/match-analysis/321-the-calm-before-the-storm

 

It's a dark dreich morning. Usually this would mirror the mood of every Rangers fan up and down the country, following a bad result. I would need several days to get over it. The days afterwards would be interspersed with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. But this feeling is noticeable by its absence. Have we become de-sensitised to it? Or is it perhaps, the calm before the storm?

 

Last night it was Alloa, at home. We have a couple of games in hand, so it was squeezed in mid-week. The game was somewhat overshadowed by the Champions League games playing in parallel. No matter. It was a pleasant night; cool, but clear. The chain of floodlights illuminated the pitch. The crowd was understandably smaller than the weekend. Nevertheless, the 25,000 or so that were there, were expectant. It was McCall’s second game and we expected an improvement.

 

Stuart McCall emerged from the gloom of the tunnel to a generous, if understated, round of applause. On Saturday he wore the traditional dark suit, white shirt, stripped tie and brown brogues. It was a nice touch after a few weeks of tracksuits worn by Kenny McDowall, which perhaps reflected his discomfort in the role. But last night, McCall was also wearing a tracksuit. The one-game-honeymoon was over. It was time to roll-up the proverbial sleeves. After exchanging pleasantries with his opposite number, McCall responds to the fans, and takes his place.

 

I don't think anyone expected a total transformation. After all, he has only been in the job a few days. But we did expect a renewed energy and impetus from the players. No matter how unlikely it was with a group of players who have shown no backbone, we still hoped.

 

There was a pleasant surprise in the team line-up. There were five changes in all, but the inclusion of youngsters Andy Murdoch and Tom Walsh was particularly encouraging. Walsh had excited at the weekend, and Murdoch, although he missed the weekend game, had excelled in the previous few. We have been calling for the youngsters to get a chance. It wasn’t much but it was a sign of progress. Shiels started, which was something of a surprise as he has been largely out of favour in recent months, only coming on in the final minutes of matches now and again. There was also a welcome return for Cammy bell, by far our best ‘keeper, who had been out injured for several months.

 

It started well enough, with lots of energy, and a semblance of an attacking threat; mostly from the adventurous Walsh. However, it was only in glimpses. We soon reverted to the familiar lumbering rhythm. The first-half petered out.

 

Almost 10 minutes into the second-half Alloa were in front. A cross was floated in and the Alloa defender guided a header past Bell. On the previous 4 occasions we have played Alloa, we have only won once. They have become our perennial ‘bogey side’. After a spell of pressure from a re-invigorated Alloa, McCall made his move: Zaliukus was off, and in came Templeton into a 3-4-3 formation. We pressed. But too often we wasted our chances.

 

With 20 minutes remaining we finally struck. The ball was lumped in, and then cleared out of the box, until McCulloch’s attempt cracked off the post and onto the head of Clark who weakly nodded the ball into the empty net. There was a sense of relief around Ibrox. The team pressed on. We have been expecting a surge going into the final minutes of games for months, without it materialising. But last night there was a palpable sense of joy – one I have not experienced for a while – when it did finally happen. Templeton collected the ball on the left. He squares up to his defender, and with his signature jink, he cuts inside and whips in a pacey ball into the onrushing head of Clark, who powers it home. It was a good goal. Perhaps it was the start of an upturn in form? We had only scored more than one goal twice in the last eight games, but could we build on the lead? Could we even see it out?

 

Alas, it wasn’t to be. A lobbed ball forward eluded the defence, and the Alloa forward latched onto it, clipping it over the ‘keeper. It was 2-2. I think there was more anger at this goal than the first. We were mildly amused at conceding the opener – a sort of ‘here we go again...’ kind of attitude –, but with victory firmly in our grasp, for the first time in what seems like an age, only to give it up, is unforgivable.

 

There was to be no final assault. The game was drawn. Again.

 

One win in the last seven games. Five draws in the last five. It seems a far cry from the success of only a few years ago. Winning is in the blood.

 

The game finished with the obligatory boos. But I took heart in those jeers. We are still here; the fans. We have fought battles over the last few years that fans should never have to fight. And we are still here. Graeme Souness summed up my feelings a few days ago, during an off-the-cuff interview:

 

"It is an institution [Rangers]. [being a Rangers supporter] is something you're born to be. You don't become one."

 

The jeers – a constant feature at the final whistle this past year – showed that we have not become de-sensitised to the disappointments as such. And the absence of that sinking feeling shows a level of acceptance. Not resignation, but acceptance. We may be struggling. We may be broken. But we are still here. And we will endure.

 

And so, the dark dreich morning does not mirror my feelings on the result, as it usually would. The absence of pain has been filled with a degree of acceptance. It is undoubtedly a period of disappointment and failure. But, as Bill Struth once said, "we will never hide from it. [...] We must reveal tolerance and sanity". This is just the calm before the storm. The lull before we make our ascent once again to the peak of the game. And I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, one doesn’t choose to be a Ranger…

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I missed the game. Was there any signs of improvement at all over the last 2 matches ?

 

Ive been at all 3 and have to say last night was far better than the last 2

 

Still nowhere near the standard required but at least a bit of effort was visible

 

They tried to keep it on the deck and pass it about a bit faster

 

Considering he's had only 2 or 3 training sessions with them I was encouraged

 

We were let down by shocking defending, and piss poor performance's by the over the hill brigade

 

If wee McCall shows real guts and drops jig and Boyd for a couple of hungry youngsters on Sunday I think we will give them a game

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I missed the game. Was there any signs of improvement at all over the last 2 matches ?

 

strong signs of improvement. The tempo and desire look to be coming back, along with a bit of character. The glaring weakness is in defense and both goals we conceded were entirely down to player incompetence but the midfield and forward line (once Oompah Loompah was substituted) looked up for it.

 

The good thing was that Forster, Miller, Black, Mohsni weren't in the starting line up and hopefully never will be again - maybe a bit harsh on Mohsni. The bad news is that jig and Boyd were.

 

If the rumours are true about Jig's contract requiring him to play every game he's fit, McCall has to make a decision.

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I would assume that Foster would play in every game if he's fit, even under McCall. What keeps him out right now is a hernia injury and he may required an operation. Yep, I hear the exultant cries even here. Not for me though. McCulloch shouldn't be there, even if that means that we must pay him ... though even if true, I doubt that Lee would actually enforce that. Law must go too. For all his running, he does not inspire any attack play ... just look what Walsh did these last two games in comparrison. There was growing anticipation each time this lad got the ball.

 

@ colinstein ... I'll post a link to the highlights in the game thread.

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I would assume that Foster would play in every game if he's fit, even under McCall. What keeps him out right now is a hernia injury and he may required an operation. Yep, I hear the exultant cries even here. Not for me though. McCulloch shouldn't be there, even if that means that we must pay him ... though even if true, I doubt that Lee would actually enforce that. Law must go too. For all his running, he does not inspire any attack play ... just look what Walsh did these last two games in comparrison. There was growing anticipation each time this lad got the ball.

 

@ colinstein ... I'll post a link to the highlights in the game thread.

 

I spoke to Foster on Saturday and he doesn't need an operation, but he will be out for another month.

 

I would have Faure in that position over Foster if he were fit. Faure was playing well on Saturday when he got injured by a stupid challenge by the Livvy #20 on a ball that was floating out of play.

 

McGregor is clearly our best CB (I thought he looked like he was carrying a few lbs too much... but I am the last person to speak about that to anyone....) and Faure, as I said, was playing well until he had to go off. We fell to pieces when Zaliukas came on and partnered McCulloch at CB and pushed McGregor to RB.

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Next time, you could ask him whether Amy might consider sponsoring the Rangers Ladies and Girls teams :cool3:

 

He was very accommodating to the fans, stopped for a while to give autographs - my wee bro just wanted his photo taken with Rangers people (he probably didn't even know who it was :D) - got his photo taken with Foster and Bomber - Bomber was another who was a gentleman to the fans.

 

On the Tuesday night we saw Walter and Grieg - my Mum was stalking Walter all the way in the front doors to get my wee bro's picture taken with him but couldn't catch up to him :D

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He was very accommodating to the fans, stopped for a while to give autographs - my wee bro just wanted his photo taken with Rangers people (he probably didn't even know who it was :D) - got his photo taken with Foster and Bomber - Bomber was another who was a gentleman to the fans.

 

On the Tuesday night we saw Walter and Grieg - my Mum was stalking Walter all the way in the front doors to get my wee bro's picture taken with him but couldn't catch up to him :D

she would have had no problem catching Boyd,Daly etc etc..lol

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