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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 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 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.

January 30, 2011

Steven Naismith's goal fifteen minutes from the end was enough to send Rangers into the first domestic final of the season against Old Firm rivals Celtic.

© SNS Group

Rangers had taken a first-half lead through dynamic midfielder Maurice Edu who blasted home a left-foot shot on 20 minutes from long range. However, Motherwell grew after the break and got back on level terms when Keith Lasley finished from the edge of the box on 66 minutes but the lead only lasted for 9 minutes until Naismith nodded the ball home from just a few yards out.

Walter Smith left Jamie Ness on the bench after an impressive spell in the first-team and brought in Maurice Edu for his first start since the defeat at Tynecastle. Vladimir Weiss was replaced by Kyle Lafferty as Rangers went to 4-4-2 rather than 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 in recent games. Neil Alexander replaced Allan McGregor between the sticks.

January 27, 2011

Rangers got their title challenge back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win against Hibs at Easter Road.

Madjid Bougherra and Nikica Jelavic got on the scoresheet for the champions who were never out of first gear against a woeful Hibs side that sit just 3 points ahead of Hamilton having played 2 games more.

© Mirror Football

Walter Smith made 2 changes for Rangers with Weiss and Jelavic coming in to the starting eleven and both were involved in the first-half goals. Weiss' free-kick went to the back post where Madjid Bougherra pulled away from Ian Murray and lashed home a right-foot volley into the far corner. Nikica Jelavic was back in scoring form as he latched on to a dreadful Richie Towell back pass and slotted the ball into the net on 35 minutes.

It was an effective performance from Walter Smith's side rather than anything spectacular in front of a very poor Easter Road crowd. The win keeps the gap at 5 points but Rangers still have 2 games in hand in the coming weeks.

January 22, 2011

Ryan Stevenson threw the SPL title race wide open with a goal 13 minutes from time to take all 3 points from champions Rangers at Tynecastle.

In what was an enthralling game of football, Rangers could not make their dominance count in the first hour and the home side took advantage of their one clear-cut attempt on goal late in the match.

© Guardian

Walter Smith resisted temptation and left Nikica Jelavic on the bench and brought Maurice Edu back into the middle of the park. James Beattie was dropped for Naismith and the Gers went for a solid 4-5-1 formation with Lafferty spear-heading the attack. The challengers, Hearts, were the in-form team before kick-off and had to do without Kevin Kyle who missed out this afternoon.

It was a frantic start to the game with Rangers opting for a high pressing game in midfield. Jamie Ness and Maurice Edu were the best performers of the half and they were allowed to support Lafferty with McCulloch holding. Lafferty fired in a low strike in the opening minute which forced a fine save from Kello who would go on to have a magnificent game. The Northern Irish international striker had another good shot saved by the Slovakian keeper and he was able to thwart Naismith with a fine stop from close range.

The impressive 19-year-old Jamie Ness was having another outstanding performance in a Rangers shirt and came close on two occasions to breaking the deadlock. Firstly, he riggled his way through the Hearts defence and had his shot well saved at the near post by Kello. Just a minute later, he nipped in to intercept a pass and then rattled a superb 20-yard effort with his left-foot that flew just over the top.

January 15, 2011

Vladimir Weiss produced another fantastic individual performance as Rangers romped to a 4-0 win over the helpless Hamilton Accies at Ibrox this afternoon.

The Slovakian winger got his name on the scoresheet twice with the first coming after a fine right-foot shot from long-range and the second from a free-kick which bobbled its way through the ruck of players and into the net despite the best efforts of Kenny Miller to get on the end of it.

Weiss' direct running had Hamilton players falling around the talented winger and he also won the penalty which Steven Whittaker converted.

© BBC Sport

After an abysmal performance in the Old Firm clash, Weiss and Rangers had to up the pace heading into a crucial month of fixtures. Weiss told the official Rangers website: "Today was another good game for me, but I don't really mind if I play well or not as long as I can help the team to get the points we need. The chat I had with the manager three weeks ago really helped me and since then I've tried to start every game well from the first whistle.

"As a team we started well from the first minute. Everyone looked sharp and from the first second we looked like we were going to win the game."

"The first goal didn't come until the 25th minute but we had the game under control and the team performance was brilliant."

"We have to take the positive things from that and continue these good performances."

December 26, 2010

A stunning individual display from Slovak Vladimir Weiss helped Rangers to a fantastic 4-1 win at Fir Park this afternoon.

Weiss was positioned just behind Kenny Miller in the starting 11 and produced a superb performance capped off with a wonderful solo-goal in the second-half. Surprisingly, Rangers fielded the same side which flopped at Inverness but it looked like a totally different side on show who entertained the thousands of Rangers fans that made the short journey to Motherwell.

Rangers started well, inspired by Weiss, but also by Steven Naismith who played a big part in the first goal with a neat one-two with Madjid Bougherra and the Algerian Player of the Year cut back for Kenny Miller who fired home. Weiss was involved in the second Rangers goal which was helped by Steven Saunders who headed the ball into his own net from the Slovakian winger's free-kick.

An almost perfect first-half for Rangers was slightly shadowed by Steven Naismith coming off just before half-time after picking up a hamstring injury. Rangers will be hoping Naismith's injury will not be as bad as first feared.

© BBC Sport

December 11, 2010

Kenny Miller came to the rescue for Rangers but went from hero to villan after missing a late penalty that proved crucial in the final reckoning as Inverness Caledonian Thistle held on to a vital home point.

Miller's strike from 20 yards out brought Rangers back on level terms after Jonny Hayes scored a spectacular 30-yarder in the first-half. It was a game of two-halves to be fair and both sides squandered a number of chances either side of half-time.

Rangers will thank Allan McGregor for keeping them in the game during the first-half after making a superb block to stop Adam Rooney adding to his 13 league goals. The SPL champions looked lethargic and lacked a spark to cut-open Inverness' resilient defence. Vladimir Weiss created two brief glimpses of goal with two crosses which were almost met by Naismith who looked at his most dangerous arriving late into the box.

Inverness' Jonny Hayes opened the scoring on the half-hour mark with a stunning 30-yard effort which swerved into the top corner leaving McGregor helpless. Rangers keeper McGregor was fuming at the way Hayes drove half-way up the pitch without any challengers and he punished Rangers for that by scoring his fifth goal of the season.

© BBC Sport Scotland

December 8, 2010

Walter Smith bowed out of the Champions League as Rangers manager with a decent 1-1 draw against the Turkish champions Bursaspor.

Kenny Miller netted his first Rangers goal in over 1000 minutes with a fantastic finish from a quick breakaway, but the Gers could only manage a draw after Sercan Yildirim bundled the ball home late in the second-half.

With Europa League qualification already secured, Smith stuck with his 5-4-1 formation and handed a debut to 18-year-old defender Darren Cole who started at right-back. Rangers were also able to welcome back Madjid Bougherra who slotted in alongside Steven Whittaker and David Weir at the back.

The Turks left skipper Omer Erdogan on the bench and Volkan Sen out of the squad after a defeat to Besiktas on Sunday. It was a 4-2-3-1 for the Turkish champions with the talented striker Sercan Yildirim starting on the right-side of the three attacking midfielders with Leonel Nunez spearheading the attack.

Sky’s highlights last night consisted of three clips, including both goals, which summed up the type of match on show. Rangers looked dangerous on the break and had their counter-attacks led by a centre-half most of the time. The ability of Whittaker and Bougherra to steam forward was working to-a-tee for Rangers and Whittaker’s marauding run forward on the counter set-up Kenny Miller to swing home a lovely left-footed finish. Rangers were able to rely on McCulloch or Hutton to move deeper whenever a defender moved forward.

So far, Rangers have looked their most dangerous in the competition from breakaways, and the high energy levels of Steven Davis and Steven Naismith to link midfield to attack have been absolutely crucial.

Whenever the opposition is in possession of the ball, the Rangers defence is very comfortable with sitting on the 18-yard-line. It is sometimes forced upon the Gers through Davie Weir’s lack of pace but with McCulloch and Hutton shielding the three central-defenders; it’s unsurprising that Rangers have been a tough nut to crack in the Champions League. Even when teams do break through the Rangers wall, they have to face up to Allan McGregor who has produced some superb saves this season.

© The Guardian

September 9, 2010

So the new SPL Season is well underway for Champions Rangers; performances in the creative sense may not be on par with any brand of ‘sexy football’ thus far however goals have been hitting the back of the net and points mean prize at the end of the campaign after all.

August 12, 2010

Only a handful of players that have played for both sides of the Old Firm; the first high profile case of switching allegiances between the two Glasgow rivals was of course Maurice Johnston which was a tad controversial at the time shall we say.

There was of course Rangers Hall of Fame inductee Alfie Conn who back in the 1970’s played for Rangers and then went on to wear the hoops of Celtic but that was well before my time, something I shall perhaps need to ask my colleague ESPN Celtic Correspondent Sean Graham about as he is a few years older than I but who’s counting eh Sean?!?

May 11, 2010

Rangers SPL Champions Season 2009/2010!

Walter Smiths side may have taken their time to cross over the finish line in recent weeks but the SPL Title was retained by Rangers thanks to a player who has hit some excellent form in the tail end of the season; much maligned since his move to Rangers by the press, ex-players, pundits and fans alike et al but it was the Kyle Lafferty who had the final laugh this season and the big Ulsterman won the title for Rangers with his impressive 17th minute strike in the 1 – 0 away win at Hibs.

April 18, 2010

All good things come to those who wait…

The SPL Champions have been stuttering a tad in the last few weeks as they bid to get over the finish line for a second successive league championship. Form and results have been a mix of Good, Bad and Ugly but things were put back on track today at Ibrox with a heartwarming second half display in the 2 – 0 victory over Jim Jeffries Hearts side.

March 27, 2010

"A week is a longtime in football”…

Especially if you’re an Old Firm manager and some don’t even last a full week. Walter Smith was hailed as a hero and master tactician after Sundays CIS Cup Final victory over St Mirren at Hampden Park then charged as the villain of the piece following Rangers Scottish Cup Quarter Final replay defeat to Dundee Utd over suspect team selection but normal service was resumed on the seventh and final day of the week with a convincing 4 – 1 victory in Saturday's live ESPN match against Hearts.

March 15, 2010

It’s been pretty much ‘business as usual’ for Rangers as they continue their quest for a possible domestic Treble last achieved during the Alex McLeish Era.

Apart from yesterdays wee blip against Dundee Utd in the Quarter Finals of the Active Nation Scottish Cup, which ended in a 3 – 3 all draw; a cracking game to watch for supporters and neutrals alike.

March 1, 2010

Rangers came out on top in this season’s third Old Firm league fixture against bitter rivals Celtic all thanks to a last gasp winner from American midfielder Maurice Edu at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon.

As per this encounter took shape of the archetypal blueprint for any match between the Old Firm; ninety minutes of passion and pace, oh and throw in four yellow cards (not bad when one compares it to previous battles), one red and some hotly debated refereeing decisions but we all knew that was coming even before the match had kicked off!

February 20, 2010

Two games against Saintly opposition inside four days for the SPL Champions firstly in the Scottish Cup with the 5th round replay against St Mirren at Ibrox Stadium on Wednesday night and a few days later a league encounter against ex-Ger Derek McIness’s St Johnstone side.

The latter fixture was called off today due to semi arctic conditions sweeping the nation over the last few days which in turn had frozen over parts of the McDiarmid Park playing surface,

February 16, 2010

It’s been a busy few weeks for the SPL Champions which have included four games across two national cup competitions and two league encounters all of which has kept Rangers in the hunt for a possible domestic treble come May.

The latter two fixtures have caused some controversy but it wouldn’t be Scottish football without a bit of controversy linked in with some ‘green paranoia’ and supposed ‘blue bias’ now would it?

January 20, 2010

It seems as if all Glasgow Rangers have been doing of late is playing against Hamilton Accies and losing players to injury…

The sequential run of matches against the Lanarkshire side may have felt like a series of Hollywood films but sadly this particular Trilogy lacked ‘epic’ performances on the park from the SPL Champions and I doubt very much we’ll be seeing a DVD compilation of parts I, II and III being launched in the club shop at Ibrox any time soon.

January 4, 2010

My prediction of a happy holiday period for Glasgow Rangers and all Teddy Bears far and wide was pretty much bang on...

In fact, going by Rangers dire performance against rivals Celtic in Sundays Ne'erday derby clash I would go as far as to say Santa provided Rangers with a late Xmas present, or indeed Xmas came early for 2010 as Walter Smith's side should consider themselves very fortunate to have walked a away with a point at Celtic Park.

December 20, 2009

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh, what fun it is to 'see your team score six goals in one game'
In a 'one-team led game'...
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way!

Ibrox was full of festive cheer yesterday as Rangers thrashed Motherwell 6 – 1 thanks to doubles from Kenny Miller and Kyle Lafferty with Kris Boyd and DaMarcus Beasley chipping in a goal apiece to complete the rout in front of a delighted home support.

November 23, 2009

It was back to SPL business this weekend after the recent break for the third set of international fixtures of the season and Rangers showed no signs of international hangovers (for Madjid Bougherra that may not have been the case!) as they cruised to a 3 – 0 home win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon.

It was none other than striker Kris Boyd who opened the scoring for the SPL Champions bagging his 8th goal of the season. It’s such goal scoring form that is strengthening his case for a re-call to the national squad now that George ‘Bungling’ Burley is thankfully no longer in charge of the Scottish national team.

November 9, 2009

It’s been mixed fortunes this past week for Glasgow Rangers; picking up just a single point in Romania against Unirea Urziceni and in the process being charged by UEFA for improper conduct of their supporters during the 1-1 draw in Bucharest on Wednesday night
(4th Nov 09).

However in the domestic race for the title the SPL Champions kept hold of their unbeaten record in the league by picking up all three points with a 2 – 1 win at home to St Mirren on Saturday (7th Nov 09).

November 2, 2009

The last few weeks have seen Rangers make more front page headlines concerning financial problems at the club rather than footballing matters, so it was a welcome distraction as Rangers beat Dundee mid-week at Dens Park with a 3 – 1 victory (28th Oct 09).

The win sees the Ibrox side progress into the semi finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup as arch rivals Celtic were knocked out by Hearts. Jambo’s Captain Michael Stewart literally making Celtic pay the penalty with his 58th minute conversion from the spot for the Gorgie Road side to win 1 – 0 on the night.

October 26, 2009

Glasgow Rangers are fast becoming this seasons drawing specialists after Saturday’s one all draw at home to Hibernian (24 Oct 09).

That’s now a total of five matches drawn so far this season in all competitions and most worrying of all is that four of those five draws have come in the SPL – not quite what you would call championship winning form eh?...

October 21, 2009

Rangers put quite simply were embarrassed by Romanian Champions Unirea Urziceni this evening as they went down to a second successive 4 – 1 defeat at Ibrox in the Champions League.

The loss leaves Rangers with just a paltry point from three matches and they now face an uphill struggle to qualify for the last 16 of the competition.

October 19, 2009

A battle of tactical minds took place on Saturday (17th Oct 09) as former pupil Derek McIness took on his old ‘gaffer’ Walter Smith as Rangers beat St Johnstone 2 – 1 away at MacDiarmid Park.

It’s fair to say it was a rather sluggish start for the SPL Champions and generally a below par performance all round, however with Celtic dropping points at home to Motherwell I don’t anticipate too much of a post-match-mortem from the fans as Rangers go top of the League.

October 4, 2009

There is allegedly a goal drought at Rangers of late but no one told striker Kenny Miller as he grabbed a super first half double as Rangers drew first blood against arch rivals Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon.

The first half was the archetypal blueprint for any Old Firm clash - frantically fast paced with end to end gung ho action. All three goals came inside the first 25 minutes but it was Kenny Miller who broke the deadlock after just eight minutes.

September 28, 2009

Stalemate, Deadlock, Goalless….sound oh so familiar? Well that was the case again this weekend as Rangers drew 0 – 0 at home to Aberdeen, as the Ibrox side failed to put away their chances against what was a youthful Aberdeen side.

Rangers started the match lively enough with a handful of missed chances in the first half from winger Jerome Rothen, Strikers Kenny Miller and Nacho Novo. In the second half Rangers best chances came from Kris Boyd with two headed efforts both which failed to hit the back of the net.

September 24, 2009

After three consecutive draws in their last three matches the Ibrox club got back to winning ways as they beat Queen on South 2-1 at Palmerston Park on Wednesday night.

Stevie Naismith continues to keep up his good run of form as he hit the opener on the 16th minute; Kris Boyd set him up with a low cross from the far right after receiving a clever ball from the Rangers half by teammate Pedro Mendes and Naismith fired the ball into the back of the net.

September 10, 2009

Scotland’s 2010 World Cup qualification dream died on the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year and crucially nine minutes from fulltime when Dutch winger Eljero Elia hit the back of the net for the visitors to seal Scotland’s fate.

Chances galore in both halves for Scotland but all sadly to no avail. Four first team Rangers players made manager George Burleys starting eleven; Captain Davie Weir, defender Steven Whittaker, forwards Kenny Miller and Stevie Naismith (a late call up to the squad after the Macedonia game) who was in for the suspended James McFadden.

August 30, 2009

Rangers continued their unbeaten start to the new SPL season with a 4 - 1 victory over visitors Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium (29th Aug 09). Doubles form Steven Whittaker and last season’s top SPL goal scorer Kirs Boyd ensured that all three points were taken by the Ibrox side.

The victory sees Rangers go top of the league on goal difference after Celtics 1 – 0 away win against Hibs today (30 Aug 09). Hamilton did manage to score a late consolation three minutes from time through defender Mark McLaughlin but it was too little too late even though it was Hamilton’s the first goal of season.