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Might it also be the case that Joe Garner in particular has suffered from the loss of Kranjcar? Fighting Joe might be the ideal target for the pinpoint precision of Niko. Joe is desperate to start putting them away and I could feel his frustration on Saturday when instead of passing to him Waghorn decided to try putting one away at an almost impossible angle.


Joe can be seen in the highlights glaring over at Waghorn while holding both arms out pointing down at the ground to the space in front of him in sheer exasperation. Made me wonder if he later had words with Waghorn about that and presumably as is supposedly their habit the manager will later sit everyone down and go over every minute in detail. That particular moment had to stand out in the analysis.

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Dunno who actually expected a level-above performance - IMHO he was having some banter with Brown et al, winding him (and the compliant Scottish (sic!) media) up. On that day Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and Co. would have looked rotten by their standards, given the team-performance. And while I am at it, holding or defensive midfield players are rarely those who "shine" in games, no matter the name.


The banter from Joey was that he was a player a level above Brown, as he was boasting he played in the EPL for bigger clubs than Brown. Who played the better that day, midfield Joey the level above, or midfield lower level Brown?


Joey Barton raised our expectations, what a let down though.

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SHADES OF GRAY Mark Warburton says Rangers fans’ favourite Joe Garner is a modern-day version of Andy Gray


The Gers boss*loves the £1.5million striker’s aggressive front play and desire to cause opposition defences maximum problems


JOE GARNER is a modern-day Andy Gray for Rangers.


Who says? Only his boss Mark Warburton, who loves the £1.5million striker’s aggressive front play and desire to cause opposition defences maximum problems.


Legend Gray was a fearless, goalscoring attacker who threw himself at crosses and intimidated centre-halves for fun while at his many clubs, including Rangers during the first of the unforgettable nine-in-a- row campaigns.


Garner’s got a bit to go to achieve even a fraction of what the former Dundee United, Aston Villa, Wolves, Everton and Scotland hero managed in a 17-year playing career.

Nevertheless, the Light Blues supporters are loving his all-action approach while gaffer Warburton believes Garner’s desire for victory is insatiable.


Garner came off late in the 2-0 win over Hearts on Saturday and got a stunning, standing ovation from the fans even though he hadn’t scored.


Warburton said: “I haven’t heard an ovation like that in 18 months. He didn’t score, but if you turned up in the 85th minute you’d have thought he had got a hat-trick.

“It shows you his work rate, desire and commitment and he chased every ball. He showed great desire.


“Joe is only 5ft 9in, but he wins headers above 6ft 2in defenders and you see week on week he’s improving.


“When he played for Preston against Brentford our defenders would come off and say ‘What a pain in the backside he was to play against’ — or words to that effect!

“Defenders were battered and bruised and said he was a handful.


“A couple of times they got their own back on him, but he didn’t complain. He just dusted himself down and went again.

“He’s a little bit old-fashioned in that respect.


“He can play, his touch is good and he has an eye for goal. That’s why we went after Joe because we knew how good he can be. An Andy Gray-type is probably a good analogy. You see the timing and technique of his leap is very strong.


“In his first few games we asked him to come short and link up and for runners to go beyond him.


“It takes time for him to settle and we asked for people to give him a break and I think he’s showing how good he can be.


“Look at Rangers, where we are weak is maybe the physicality, but Joe provides that.


“Two weeks ago I was told Joe Garner was a shocking buy and a waste of money. Now people are raving about his performances. It’s just two weeks later. People are very, very quick to judge players.”


Garner picked up his fourth booking against the Jambos, edging closer to a suspension.


Warburton knows the 28-year-old has to be careful, but he also doesn’t want him to lose the qualities which are impacting on opposition defences.


He said: “Discipline is key for all of us. He has to be careful as we don’t want players to get a one-match ban.


“Joe plays a little bit on the edge and defenders know he plays that way.


“He is one of those players, and please write this the right way, who doesn’t go and smash people in training.


“He knows what he can and cannot do. He does what he has to do in training.


“I’m not saying he is an outstanding trainer or a bad trainer, just a normal trainer. But on a Saturday, he is a different beast. Literally.”


Garner has managed just three goals from 15 games since joining from Preston but Warburton remains delighted with his contribution.


Tomorrow night Rangers go to Hamilton looking for a third consecutive victory for the first time this season.


And Warburton, looking to build momentum for Celtic’s visit on December 31, said: “We’ve had two good results over Aberdeen and Hearts and are in a good position.


“Friday night gives us a chance to extend that and put points on the board.


“It’s a tough challenge, a tough place to go. Hamilton are a well- organised, hard-working side. They have good quality and are well managed.


“Every week is a chance to put something to bed, beating teams around us, whatever it is. This week it’s ‘You can win at Ibrox, but you can’t win away’.


“So what we need to do is take the form away and, absolutely, get the third win in a row.


“We were promoted last year and are being compared to Celtic straight away.


“We have had ten new boys coming in here and we are gelling a team.


“I was asked at the start of the season what we would be and I said ‘highly competitive’.


“I think we are proving that. We are second in the table, so we are highly competitive.


“Rangers have been in a unique situation, coming back from where they have been, the journey the club has been on.


“We have to get back to the top of Scottish football, that’s the job., but it is about us doing it at the right pace, building strong foundations. That’s always been the aim.


“I don’t worry about Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts or St Johnstone. Our job as Rangers is to win games and be highly competitive.


“Judge us at the end of the season.”


Tickets for Rangers v Inverness Caley Thistle at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve are on sale now. Prices for the Ibrox match start from £24 for adult, £18 for concessions and just £7 for juniors.

Visit the Rangers Ticket Centre, call 0871 702 1972 or log on to rangers.co.uk to buy tickets.



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I don't think I'm in any way doing a hatchet job on Barton, but...


Due to this being a Gardner thread, I'll cut this short. I was not saying that you did a hatchet job (though took your post as a sample), but much of what came after his spat with the team could be regarded as such. Every interview he gave to RTV et al was sane, down to earth stuff. If people take the banter with Brown (and it is quite strange that that single twitter spat is being dragged out this way) or what was written by the Scottish papers as the real thing, so be it. As I pointed out, everyone knew that Barton was not a midfield maestro but a seasoned EPL/Championship pro who is a cut above your average SPFL midfielder. But not much more. Circumstances concerning the team went very much against him ... and every chap on this board went ballistic for the abysmal performance that day and those of quite games in the weeks thereafter. Hence, laying all blame on Barton's doorstep is, IMHO, stretching it. Not too long ago, quite a few were questioning the manager (you see, Barton was away) and his tactics, whether he could cut it at this level and whatnot. Now, after we finally seem to get our act together on the park - mainly because players ON the field start to deliver - emotions have calmed somewhat. And you do wonder how a Barton (the player, not the character) might fit in there, not least if Halliday gets injured. All hypothetical now.

Edited by der Berliner
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I would assume that unless he gets injured, Garner will retain his starting slot. It is more about who will work the right flank (O'Haloran, Waghorn, Tavernier ... ) and where to fit in Miller. Giving the latter a free role in attacking midfield seems to have worked in the last two games and I would assume that we'll keep it that way for the time being.

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Garner seems to be a diminutive Kichenbrand, a sort of mini rhino.


Perhaps Jimmy Millar is a better comparison. Four inches shorter than Billy McNeil but could out-jump him no bother from a standing start or running.


Garner will need a Ralphie Brand. I don't think I see one anywhere.

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He certainly appears to be a favourite of the fans just now....however, If he doesn't start contributing with some goals, I think that will quickly fade.


Kenny Miller is a very hard worker, similar to Garner and has never been a prolific goal scorer. However, he does find the net often enough to keep the fans happy.

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