Stars Duds of the Game
Inspiration: After each National Hockey League game — the local media votes for the ‘Three Stars of the Game’ — basically the Man of the Match — but as a treble! So in that spirt – normally we discuss Rangers Three Stars of the Game. But when they play like this – we must focus the attention to the Three Duds of the Game.
Star Dud: Steven Smith – here’s my first question for Ally McCoist – “Why did you even have Steven Smith on the pitch?” His inclusion slides your best player further out of his comfort zone (Lewis Macleod), he offers no creativity from the midfield, & has failed to link up with Lee Wallace whenever given the chance. Well, umm – he’s experienced & he did hit those two free kicks last year.
Yes, Steven Smith is experienced – vastly experienced at being a truly average footballer. Average would be a kind way to describe his brief time on the pitch. He predictably struggled to have a synergy with Lee Wallace & each touch of the ball ended poorly.
You can debate the merits of the red card until you’re blue in the face. Ian Black’s clumsy challenge moments before set a tone for the referee that he wanted to assert control over the match (which he failed to do, given the nine bookings & endless parade of injured players sprawled out on the field).
Regardless, Smith’s tackle was stupid & pointless given the situation. Why even make that tackle? If you’re going to get booked for a challenge – make it on a player that poses a threat – not a player who just made a clearance in his own end. A foolish play that became symbolic of the entire match for Rangers.
Star Dud: Kenny Miller – was behind the play throughout the match & it looked as if him & Jon Daly were playing in two separate games. The veteran duo had no plan of how to play with each other & posed no real threat at all. Miller’s tackle seconds before he was pulled out of the match was another example of a veteran player not handling the pressure of the moment. However, it was a bit baffling to keep Daly in the game & remove Miller. Being down to ten men means that a team should live & die with the counter – who would you rather have pacing down the pitch – the engine of Miller or the plodding of Daly?
Bottom line – Miller’s performance was a reminder that he struggled to get in the lineup months ago for a Vancouver Whitecaps team that won 12 of 34 games this year. In hindsight, a very poor signing on McCoist’s part. He & Boyd were brought in to win these kind of matches – instead Boyd’s been so poor that he doesn’t even start & Miller couldn’t match the tempo of a younger & fitter Hearts side.
Star Dud: Lewis Macleod – is now expected to be Rangers best player & leave his mark on a match. Unfortunately, he struggled throughout & even looked quite flustered at times. Of course, when the manager decides to yank Macleod so far out of his comfort zone – you are reminded that he is still only 20 years old & learning the nuances of the game. At some point, a manager needs to give his most talented players the best chance to succeed – Lewis Macleod playing on the right side of midfield sets him up for failure. So Steven Smith was so critical to the team winning this match that Fraser Aird, Arnold Peralta, Dean Shiels, David Templeton & (we came to learn) Richard Foster were not suffice?
Ian Black‘s clumsy tackles set the tone early that players would be on a short leash & that was seen in the reactionary red card given to Smith. Black was poor throughout & his bumbling tackle in the box was needless & futile. Is this really a player that deserves to be the engine of Rangers midfield?
Jon Daly was expected to finally get the start & the results were predictable. His incessant fouling led to a booking & while he is a handful to defend in the air – his immobility leads to Rangers becoming one dimensional in attack. Once Rangers went down to ten men, Daly should have been the first player taken off to insert some pace into the undermanned side.
Lee Wallace played with an urgency & passion that was missing from others in the side. At one point, you could see him imploring his teammates to move forward & the broadcast picked up him profanely urging Nicky Law to keep up with his engagement in the play – sadly to no avail. Did Wallace play his best game? Definitely not. His final product was often poor & he struggled to pose a threat up the left flank – but it was heartening to see someone play with passion that wasn’t channeled into a stupid tackle.