RNF Blog: The Calm Before The Storm, What’s Needed For Rangers To Beat Celtic
Discounting the ‘a miracle’ comments, what do Rangers to work on from the Kilmarnock performance last Friday night?
Mark Warburton stated in his post fight interviews that the movement wasn’t good enough and the first half certainly was not good enough. From where I was sat he was correct. According to the Rangers boss they had worked on movement on the training ground prior to the Kilmarnock fixture. Despite this what transpired in the first half was arguably the worst 45 minutes of football witnessed by the Rangers faithful in the last 18 months.
Movement is crucial in order to trouble Celtic and that movement will need to be displayed in a much needed warm up at Linfield next Saturday at Windsor Park. The Light Blues honestly don’t appear to be close to hitting top form as of yet and with under two weeks till one of the biggest clashes Scottish football has seen in the last five years, something needs to be done in order to make sure that Rangers give the correct account of themselves at Celtic Park on September 10th.
Going back to movement, it will be the only way to trouble the Celtic back line. The movement in the midfield and the overlapping full backs must be harmonious in order for the Teddy Bears to be in with a shout of picking up a result at Celtic Park.
Having all the possession in the second third of the park has not been working for Rangers this season. Some may argue differently but in many peoples eyes possession doesn’t win football matches – goals do. I am already beginning to lose count on how many times Rangers have conceded from being hit on the break this year. Constructive pressure going forward is what is needed. Sideways passes and an overzealous commitment to keeping the ball is not.
Joe Garner showed some signs of promise at Kilmarnock however it’s possible he may need time to adapt to Rangers style of play. True or not a big performance will be needed from himself, Barry McKay and Kenny Miller against Celtic; if that is the three up top Mark Warburton decides to go with.
The defence once again had shaky moments at Rugby Park. This can’t happen at Celtic Park. Celtic have quality up top and it will take an extremely solid defensive performance to keep them out. Rangers haven’t been scoring freely this season so a perfect defensive performance will be needed come Old Firm day. The possible introduction of Phillipe Senderos may be a very welcome addition to the Rangers back line.
Joey Barton vs Scott Brown – a battle which most Glaswegian football fans have been anticipating for a while now. Barton will have to dominate the midfield battle in order for Rangers to control the engine room of the park. It’s no secret that Celtic are dangerous in the final third, so constructive pressure on and off the ball will be a key element in winning or losing a week on Saturday.
The points listed above will likely need to be displayed at Linfield next weekend. Friendly or not the atmosphere inside Windsor Park is likely to be an electric one, similar in some ways to that of the Old Firm. The point is it’s probably the best simulation Rangers could have at this point prior to their first league clash with Celtic in four years and a massively improved performance will be needed against the Belfast outfit this weekend.
The final element that needs adding to a winning concoction a week on Saturday will be which team turns up. That may sound quite a simplistic view however lets be honest with ourselves; many derbies are settled by which team turns up on the day. Derby’s do not get much bigger than the Old Firm and despite what critics of Scottish football may say; Rangers vs Celtic is still one of the most fiercely contested and most watched club games on earth. Rangers will need to turn up, win every 50/50 challenge, every second ball, every header etc in order to come out with all three points at Celtic Park. It’s unlikely that Celtic will have one eye on their Champions League clash with Barcelona three days later and if it does play a factor in their performance, it will be a mere excuse or nativity from the Celtic management. When it comes to the Old Firm, nothing else matters.