The Champions League clash was rather disappointing in my eyes; the overall performance didn’t merit a win. I didn’t see much evidence of heart, bite, passion or come to think of it any kind of positive penetration in the Rangers midfield.
Let’s hope Pedro is on the Mend quick style as well as Mo Edu.
There were a few chances including Kenny Miller’s poorly executed shot (but at least he pulled the trigger!) after being supplied by Steven Davis and a late Sasa Papac chance which could have snatched a much needed victory for Rangers in Group G but both fluffed their lines.
With Rangers best man on the night being keeper Alan McGregor who kept Rangers in the match with a series of superb saves in both halves, it’s not the sort of headlines you want to be creating in the quest for a victory in Europe. Marius Onofras’s equalizing strike two minutes from time was well simply stunning, possibly the goal of the competition so far for me.
Unirea Urziceni celebrate their stunning equaliser.
Poetic justice in the end that perhaps denied the Gers number one a deserved shut out.
At one point I was so disappointed with forward play and attack I began to question whether manager Walter Smith had maybe lost the dressing room or thinking does the current team simply need rebuilt?
The above said theory and hypothesis probably stemming more from frustration and the fact that this tie was actually lost in the home leg at Ibrox as under ‘normal’ circumstances an away draw would have been considered a good result.
Young Danny Wilson was thrown into the mix against Unirea Urziceni and the lad done well. Only just 17 he didn’t look out of place at all. He read the game very well despite his inexperience, working in tandem with his elder statesman Captain Davie Weir and at one stage showing great commitment by clearing his goal line superbly and clattering into the post as a result.
He reminded me a bit of ex Rangers and Scotland captain, defender Colin Hendry a man who would ‘take one for the team’ again and again.
With Majid Bougherra still out injured I say extend Wilson’s run in the first team not only will it build big match experience for the lad I’m sure his confidence will be sky high as a result. To be honest I don’t think Walter Smith has any choice in the matter as the squad is a tad depleted of late with so many injuries, but it’s nice to see that Murray Park is producing some good Scottish talent nonetheless.
Back to domestic business it was striker Kris Boyd who helped keep the Teddy Bears unbeaten run in the league going by bagging a double against The Buddies at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon.
Boyd took his SPL tally to 149 goals and is now just nine shy of all-time record scorer Henrik Larsson. Not everybody’s cup of tea and often criticised in the past for a lack of all round contribution to the team, Boyd has certainly changed his attitude and added to his game since his decision not to play for Scotland under current manager George Burley.
He again was over looked for Europe in the mid-week draw against Unirea but surely current form must come into Walter Smith’s team selection? In my opinion he has proved himself as the main man at Ibrox and his domestic scoring feats and improved all round play must warrant an extended run against bigger opposition.
Certainly a sentiment shared by the Ibrox faithful as they displayed their backing for the striker on Saturday by unfurling a banner reading:
“BOYD MUST STAY
“BOYD MUST PLAY…Home and away”
Considering he cost the then Rangers manager Alex McLeish a mere £400,000 just over four years ago I think he’s proved his worth to the team over and over again. Last January’s bid by Birmingham City was accepted by the club but it was Boyd himself who refused to move and join his old gaffer McLeish in the Midlands much to the delight of the Ibrox crowd.
Will McLeish come back in again for Boyd come January when the transfer window reopens? Maybe a question for Arun Verma who writes Birmingham City’s ESPN Soccernet Blog, has he heard any echoes of ‘Transfer’, ‘Bid’ and ‘Boyd’ in the same sentence coming from the St Andrew’s stadium?!
If it wasn’t for Boyd’s glut of goals last season the Championship title flag would no doubt be flying high in the East End of the City.
Rangers lack of commitment to Boyd who is yet to be offered a new contract (mind you all contract extensions are currently on hold at the club) makes me wonder if it’s not his playing abilities that are in question, maybe more so his personality traits off the pitch but then I am just speculating or trying to figure out what’s what.
Walter Smith must rate the striker as not only is he his savior on the domestic front; he did pick Boyd for the national team when he was the Scotland manager and his faith in the Rangers number 9 was repaid with a goal or two.
Or could it be simply the current money worries at the club that is dictating this lack of commitment to this lethal goal scorer?
Either way it’s going to ‘cost’ Rangers or prove ‘costly’ if he leaves when his contract comes to an end this season.
In other club news Rangers have been drawn to play St Johnstone in the semi finals of the League Cup after the draw was made at Tynecastle this afternoon.
Rangers have already beaten St Johnstone this season with a 2 – 1 victory in the league last month and it will be another test off Teacher versus Pupil as The Saints are managed by former Rangers player Derek McIness.
Hearts drew St Mirren in the other semi final, the ties are set to be played on February 2nd and 3rd.
It’s not only the Rangers first team that are succeeding this season in cup competition, Billy Kirkwood’s Rangers under-19s progressed through to the fourth round of the SFA Youth Cup on Sunday with a 2 – 1 win over Aberdeen.
Goals from Kyle Hutton and Polish international Kamil Wiktorski ensured victory for the Ibrox young guns. Speaking on the club web site Kirkwood said:
"We are delighted because this was always going to be a very difficult game.
"It's a long journey up there and it's a long day for the boy's involved - it's ten hours from start to finish for 90 minutes of football.
"But they handled that very well and we started very well with two terrific goals.
"Kyle got us going with a great header and big Kamil scored a fantastic goal which he deserved on the day".
The domestic scene takes a break this weekend for international fixtures.
As we all know Scotland sadly aren’t involved in the World Cup play off qualifiers. Instead the national team travels to Wales for a friendly which includes four Rangers first team stars namely fullback Steven Whittaker (though he could be an injury doubt), midfielder Kevin Thomson and strikers Kenny Miller and Stevie Naismith.
Here’s hoping Scotland get a result on Saturday (14th Nov 2009) at Cardiff City Stadium, kick off 3pm.
Rangers next league match takes place on Saturday 21st November when they host Kilmarnock at Ibrox kick-off 3pm.
*Don’t forget to check out ESPN’s Soccernet North of the Border SPL Blog where ESPN’s Derek Rae and Darrell Currie give us their insight and expertise on the current state of play in Scotland’s top flight.
Dated 9th November 2009.