It was the second Miller Time double of the week from Kenny as he grabbed both second half goals in the 3 – 0 away win at Dundee United on Tuesday. Come back wing king DaMarcus Beasley had opened the scoring for Rangers on the 26th minute with a wonder strike which must be in contention for goal of the season as it was a beauty!
The team seems to have put their European woes behind them, instead turning their full attentions to domestic duty and going by the recent sprout of goals in the league (15 goals during four consecutive SPL victories) the SPL Champions are well and truly back on track.
Rangers players congratulate goalscorer Kenny Miller.
Aside from the flurry of goals, collective team play and heightened individual performances have been the essential contributory factors to Rangers recent SPL success which has seen the Champions open up a 4 point gap at the top of the table over rivals Celtic who lost 2 -1 to Hearts at Tynecastle today.
What impressed me the most about Saturday’s performance was the side splitting passing which Rangers employed in the second half that broke the Motherwell side down. Rangers’ passing though the middle of the park and out wide was a great visual spectacle to watch, enthralling and entertaining at the same time; a Rangers style and play of old.
However this really only came about after the break (no doubt Walter had a word at half-time) as in the first half barring the early goal and dominating the first 15 minutes or so it was Motherwell’s passing that was a delight to watch. A very Continental approach to it all as they knocked the ball around the park with flair and a collective line and discipline which frustrated Rangers.
Jim Gannon’s got his side playing some tasteful football when given centre stage.
Manager Walter Smith has made a few changes to his team sheet recently with DaMarcus Beasley and Nacho Novo starting in the last three or four matches. Almost a forgotten man at Ibrox, Beasley has come into the side and shown some sensational form as well chipping in with a goal or two; his goal against Dundee Utd on Saturday was particularly sweet.
DM is obviously a man hungry for a World Cup squad place (with the USA) which is great news for Rangers as his quick feet, pace, wing trickery, forward balls and tracking back for defensive duties is paying dividends for the side although he could loose the headache inspiring shiny luminous boots!
Having missed Tuesday’s game against Dundee Utd (I was celebrating my 21st!) I would have (alongside a few of the Ibrox support who I chatted to on Saturday) happily seen DM sold in the pending January transfer window and for the cash to be used to strengthen the team elsewhere.
His performance against Motherwell reminded me and the rest of the Ibrox faithful what a great player he his given the chance of an extended run in the team. He’s added to his game too, especially tracking back and helping with defensive duties although he could do with eating a few more Ibrox pie’s as he’s still built like the side of a £5 note and as one punter pointed out on Saturday he seemed to be wearing Kris Boyd’s shorts!
But DM did stand up to a few challenges against Motherwell and I guess his dinky build is the archetypal dimensions for a winger which is perfect for his individual game. Flicking through the official match day programme on Saturday I was surprised to read that DM has amassed 89 caps for the USA and he’s played in two World Cup Finals namely 2002 (South Korea and Japan) and 2006 (Germany), very impressive reading for someone still so young (27).
DaMarcus Beasley is in red hot form at the moment.
Being back in the side has whetted DM’s appetite on a number of levels as he bids to book a weekly place in Walter Smiths starting eleven as well come to the attention of USA boss Bob Bradley with the World Cup Finals looming next summer in South Africa.
Speaking in Saturday’s official match day programme Beasley said:
"It’s a big six months for me with the World Cup coming in South Africa. I have been out for the last four games (with the USA) so my aim is to obviously play as much as I can for Rangers and try to get back in to the squad.
"I have been written off by a lot of people but I want to go out and show them I can still play the way I did two or three years ago.
"I don’t think I have to prove anything to anybody other than myself.
"I know what I can do but it’s just great that I am getting another chance in the Rangers team right now and the gaffer is giving me the confidence to go out and play.
"Hopefully in the next six months I can stay in the team and reach a level that can see me get in to the squad for the World Cup".
Going on his current form the Ibrox faithful will be hoping his run continues in the side as watching a winger play to such a level is sheer joy to watch and speaking as a proud (and sporting!) Scotsman I am hoping he carries this level of form into the World Cup as the USA face England in their opening fixture in Group C.
Should DM (and Mo Edu) make the final cut for the USA World Cup Squad, they will face Gers teammate Majid who will be representing Algeria who are also drawn in Group C alongside Slovenia.
Talking of Mo Edu, the midfielder should make his first appearance of the season in the Old Firm Ne'erday clash however Kevin Thomson looks like an injury doubt after hobbling off in the first half against Motherwell on Saturday. The Rangers #8 will most likely miss the festive fixtures against his old club Hibs and Dundee Utd.
Speaking on the club web site Manager Walter Smith said:
"Kevin's got a calf injury and we're not quite sure how long that is going to keep him out for.
"It's disappointing for him as he's struggling a little bit to get a run of games without injury just now and I was hoping today would be the start of something for him (against Motherwell).
"He'll probably struggle for all of our games next week. I'm still not sure of how severe his strain is but I'd think he will be a doubt”.
This is how the Rangers festive running order looks:
Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Hibernian v Rangers kick-off 12:00
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Rangers v Dundee Utd kick-off 19:45
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Celtic v Rangers kick-off 12:30.
Going by Rangers current form and recent league results against Falkirk, St Johnstone, Dundee Utd and Motherwell on Saturday, it seems like Santa has come early this year at Ibrox.
With Celtic dropping points against Hearts today and Rangers already having one Old Firm victory under their belts this season, the SPL Champions must try to endorse fully the 4 point lead at the top of the table and the psychological advantage over their Old Firm rivals as they continue their quest for a successive league title under Walter Smiths second reign at the club.
I predict a happy holiday period for all Teddy Bears far and wide. Let’s hope the festive magic continues post Yule and into the New Year…
I would just like to wish you all very Merry Christmas, have a grand Hogmanay and I wish you All and ‘Simply The Best’ for New Year when it comes – Slangevar!
Dated 20th December 2009.
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