soccernet blog
February 26, 2011

... We Will Follow On!"

The famous line in 'Follow Follow' has never really been as relevant as it has become in the last few days. Maurice Edu's injury-time equaliser in Lisbon has put the Gers into the Last 16 of the UEFA Europa League where we will take on Eredivisie league-leaders PSV a week on Thursday.

The authorities in Dublin must be dreading the prospect of 200,000 bears descending on the Irish capital. Incredibly, you might even have that figure travelling from Northern Ireland alone.

Rangers beat Sporting in 1972, and beat Moscow Dynamo in the final.
Rangers beat Sporting in 2008, and lost to Zenit in the final.

So what are the chances of Rangers getting to the final in Dublin and facing another Russian side?

February 20, 2011

It is a deflating feeling to lose an Old Firm derby, but to lose in such a manner like we did on Sunday was painful. I just hope the players and management feel the same.

The performance was absolutely woeful from start to finish. Gutless, uninspired and a distinct lack of basic ability. Seriously, not good enough.

Credit to Celtic though, the tempo of their play was unplayable for us at times and they pressed the game well forcing us into a number of errors. I was surprised that Ki didn't start the game but I suppose that's the difference in terms of squad depth.

We just didn't get started and a number of players were culpable of constantly giving the ball away - Edu in particular just seemed to give everything back to Celtic.

February 19, 2011

Each game against the smelly mob just seems to get more important in the race for the domestic treble.

Tomorrow is no different.

League matches are so much more important and tomorrow is by far the biggest Old Firm derby of the season. Remember, we still have another THREE to go including a Cup Final in March at Hampden!

The last two performances against Celtic have been far from acceptable and it's vital that we go to the San Giro and dominate the game early on. In the 2-2 game in particular, Ki and Kayal were given far too much space in midfield, and to be fair, both are players who will control a game if you don't put them under pressure.

February 18, 2011

I genuinely could not believe what I was watching at times on Thursday night.

1-0 up; Sporting rattled; a host of options on the bench - and what do we do?

Sit back in our own half; invite Sporting back into the game; make no changes while Sporting make three of them. Going by that, it is not a surprise that Matias Fernandez nodded home an equaliser for the visitors in the last few minutes.

© BBC Sport Scotland

The first half was a real disappointment for any of the 35,000 fans who spent £30 to be at Ibrox last night. Neither team had a hold of the game early on and Rangers were unable to ask any questions of a fairly fragile Sporting defence. Kyle Lafferty had a header at the near-post from El-Hadji Diouf's cross and Helder Postiga shot wide from a tight angle in the only two decent chances of the half.

February 12, 2011

Steven Naismith, Nikica Jelavic and David Healy were all on the scoresheet for the champions who produced, arguably, one of their most impressive performances of the season. Walter Smith decided to hand on-loan Arsenal youngster Kyle Bartley in midfield alongside Steven Davis with Mo Edu and Jamie Ness dropping out.

© BBC Sport

Nikica Jelavic netted a hat-trick as Rangers hammered Motherwell in a 6-0 victory at Ibrox this afternoon.

It was much improved from Rangers after last week's performance against Celtic and some of the football today was an absolute joy to watch. At the heart of it, Steven Davis was like his old-self and kept everything ticking along in the middle of the park while Kyle Bartley was able to dominate that area of the pitch. There is such a difference around Ibrox when the team plays with pace and loads of movement and that was exactly what we got today. Well worth watching in my opinion.

Steven Naismith, in a central-midfield role today, popped up to score the opening goal on five minutes when he latched on to Vladimir Weiss' low cross and finished well with his right-foot. El-Hadji Diouf almost opened his Rangers account when he was sent through on goal by Weiss but Diouf was just inches away from collecting the pass. The good tempo and intensity from Rangers was continued for a decent spell of the first-half and Jelavic came close for the first time when his shot went just past the post.

February 8, 2011

It takes a while to digest the mayhem of an Old Firm tie and this one was no different - except it was actually a half-decent game for once!

Pre-match, it was a fantastic atmosphere and everything up until 5-10 minutes into the game seemed like a blur. Jamie Ness rattled home a stunning left-foot strike from long-range which I didn't even see hit the back of the net from my vantage point, instead, I got an arm around the throat to start off crazy celebrations. A bouncy in the 2nd minute of an Old Firm game - could it get any better?

Sadly, no.

In fact, it was a seriously embarrassing performance for a good 45-60 minutes of the match.

February 4, 2011

It's that time again in Scottish Football. The Old Firm derby has come around for the third time this season with this clash coming in the 5th Round of the Scottish Cup.

It could be the third of potentially SEVEN meetings between the two this season.

But it does not make it less important.

This time round, the confidence is coming from the green-quarter of Glasgow with Celtic fans believing that they will leave Ibrox with another victory. That opinion tends to be shared by the majority of Scotland's pathetic "pundits" and "experts" who have hardly offered any insight into how Celtic are their choice for this game except for the usual tag of playing such 'wonderful, expansive, Barcelona-style football'. We've heard it all before.


The other three-quarters of Glasgow are quietly looking forward to this game and snatching the bragging rights following the debacle of January 2nd. Something which has been pretty much ignored is that the best striker in Scotland by an absolute country mile is back in for Rangers this weekend to make his Old Firm debut.

If Jelavic had been fit on the 2nd, it would have been an entirely different story.

We are in stronger position to the start of the month despite losing three players and bringing in three during the window. Senegalese International El-Hadji Diouf joined the club on loan from Blackburn and all eyes will be on the new signing come Sunday.

You better believe it, Brown, Kayal, Ledley and Stokes will be doing their best to make Diouf lose his temper.

February 3, 2011

Kyle Lafferty took advantage of Nikica Jelavic's injury by putting in an impressive performance last night against Hearts at Ibrox. Lafferty scored the only goal of the game on 4 minutes when he volleyed home from Whittaker's deep cross.

New signings El-Hadji Diouf, David Healy and Kyle Bartley were all left on the bench by Walter Smith as the Gers went for the same formation that dominated the reverse fixture at Tynecastle just a few weeks ago. Vladimir Weiss replaced Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic was missing from the team with a groin injury.

After Hearts' abysmal performance against Celtic, this was their last chance at saving what is an already dented title challenge. Confidence was high after the 1-0 win over Rangers in January and Hearts responded well to Lafferty's early goal with a lot of the possession and a few half-chances. Skipper Marius Zaliukas worked a superb save from Allan McGregor in the first-half but it was difficult for the Jambos to create much with Templeton and Kyle out of the team.

Lee McCulloch went off midway through the first-half and Smith handed a debut to El-Hadji Diouf who recieved a warm welcome to Ibrox by the Rangers fans who braved the heavy rain. Diouf showed some neat touches and floated in behind Jelavic and it was he who got the first clattering from Ian Black who is not the most popular player in Govan.