A Cold Glass Of Reality

Last night St Johnstone came to Ibrox Park and left with a fantastic result that puts Rangers’ recent progress into perspective.

Two nil up at half time, the game was over as a contest when the men from Perth scored a third and put themselves on easy street.

Rangers had a lot of possession but didn’t really get behind the St Johnstone back line at all in truth. St Johnstone are a top six SPFL side and they really did do a number on Rangers last night.

Tommy Wright exposed the defensive frailties that have been fairly obvious in the Rangers set up. Saints used their wide players to great effect and carved Rangers open time and time again.

Being honest it really should be been all over by half time; how McLean missed from two yards I’ll never know.

Did Mark Warburton do much wrong? No, not really. If anything he set his team up the same way he has done since the start of the season. My only concern would be that the gulf between top Premiership sides and run of the mill Championship sides maybe should have been taken into consideration.

The pace that St Johnstone attacked at surprised the men from Ibrox,although it shouldn’t have, so maybe there was a touch of complacency about the performance from the Glasgow side.
The centre halves were exposed, alarmingly so in my opinion. Neither of them are blessed with great pace so when the full backs were marauding up the touchline it was left to the midfield to help Wilson and Keirnan. However, they didn’t, with Halliday being particularly out of sorts.

It led to a counter attacking performance by the Perth men whose manager got his tactics spot on, whereas Mark Warburton might well have found out a lot more from last night than he could’ve expected to.

This is a work in progress for the Rangers manager and I think he’s perhaps had a dose of reality. The aim this season is promotion. Nothing should deviate from that but a cup run would’ve brought in much needed funds to the club so it’s a lost opportunity in that respect.

Last night’s game will show Warburton where his team are at in the grand scheme of things. Frankly, Rangers are a Championship side and hopefully this will be used to lower the sky high expectations and the hype that’s surrounded this side since the start of the season.

Rangers looked weak at the back, average in the midfield and a little bit lightweight up top. The full backs are very good players but the rest have got it all to prove at the highest level. Too many of them huffed and puffed in the game last night and should take stock and regain focus.

Its only the first defeat of the season but much was expected and Mark Warburton’s team failed to deliver in the first acid test they’ve faced, something that should give cause for concern in the context of where Rangers actually are.

Warburton’s team are a work in progress and the opposition have European experience gained over a period of years that they used very well indeed, They did a number on Rangers last night and all the plaudits go to them.

Therefore, it’s back to the grind of league duty for this Rangers side. The chance of pitting their wits against superior teams from the league above them is gone until the Scottish Cup comes along later in the season.

Will the crowds remain as high as they have done since the season start? Who knows but I’d think they’ll drop off a little after this defeat. As I mentioned earlier that may have an effect on the club’s finances that they could well do without but it may be the harsh reality that all Rangers fans needed.

I think we’ve all known that the attractive style of play and the brand of football Mark Warburton has brought has given the Rangers support a monumental lift in the three months he’s been here. If anything this setback shows the man that Rangers are a distance behind the top six sides in the SPFL.

The squad is light on numbers and last night’s game can be used as a point to prove that. Some of the players were found wanting but gave a decent account of themselves against a very decent side.

The two loanees I thought got an insight into how good some Scottish sides/players can be. They struggled with the lack of space and time they had, while normally in the Championship they have an extra second or so to decide what to do. A learning experience for them.

We have to remind ourselves that this is a very young, inexperienced team that is at the start of its journey. This may well be one of those disappointments that stands Warburton’s squad in good stead in the long run.

If nothing else, it proved that Mark Warburton has a lot to learn about the Scottish game and his young players have huge amounts to learn about the game in general.

Too much hype has exposed them to perhaps believe they were better than they actually are but for me it’s how they react to this defeat that will prove if they are on the right path or not.

Mark Warburton took his defeat like I expected him to last night. He protected his players and spoke like an absolute gentleman. The kudos goes to St Johnstone, they played very well, make no mistake about that.

The Rangers manager maybe possibly got his tactics wrong last night but he did give it a right go, and if Waghorn’s header goes in a few minutes after Tavernier’s brilliant goal then Rangers could have been celebrating a famous victory. It wasn’t to be.

Let’s see how the manager and his team react to their first real disappointment. The league is all important but it would’ve been nice to see Warburton’s side go on a cup run.

I’m sure the Rangers board will be quietly saying the same.