McCall can’t afford to Jig the defence around

Courtesy of The Daily Record
Courtesy of The Daily Record

Lee McCulloch’s first start since being booed against Falkirk a month or so ago saw him slot into a back three alongside Darren McGregor and Marius Zaliukas last week at Easter Road. And while he came through it relatively unscathed as we managed to hang on to our aggregate lead, McCall has to do the right thing for the team and consign him to a seat on the bench tonight.

The centre back pairing of McGregor and Zaliukas is by far our best combination, but before McCulloch’s suspension and his recent injury niggles, we had been resigned to the fact that he was a constant on the teamsheet regardless of how bewildered, incompetent or costly he had been in the previous game.

However, surely with the team looking the most resolute it has done in the last four years without him in the side, McCall cannot jeopardise our promotion chances by shoe-horning McCulloch back into a settled defence?

Courtesy of Rangers FC
Courtesy of Rangers FC

Let’s hope not, because as much as I respect Jig’s loyalty (I know he has been very well reimbursed) and fondly remember the part he played in the trophy-laden first four years of his Rangers career, his legacy and place on the Hall of Fame would be forever tarnished should he make a glaring error which cost us promotion back to the top flight.

Motherwell will presumably line-up with Scott McDonald and John Sutton as their strike partnership if they decide to play with two up top. McDonald, as we all know, is a tricky customer who poses the biggest threat to our promotion hopes. He’s an older head who won’t be phased by the intimidating atmosphere of Ibrox and has shown that he is still capable of producing a moment of magic since returning to Scotland in January.

To deal with him, we need our two strongest defenders out on the park. They have to be chosen out of merit, and as much as I would have liked to have seen McCulloch start and finish our journey from Division Three to the Premier League wearing the armband, his leadership role should be restricted to off the park as on it there are far better options on it.

The first leg is at home tonight and I can’t for the life of me envisage McCall opting to go with a back three when we need to try and build a strong lead going into Sunday’s decider at Fir Park. That’s why I expect McCall to switch back to a 4-4-2 with Wallace, Zaliukas, McGregor and Foster forming the back line at the expense of McCulloch.

Against Hibs he had the security of two other central defenders around him which came in handy on a couple of occasions in the first half as Jason Cummings escaped his attention far too easily. He did then go on to have a decent game overall, clearing the penalty box when needed, and for that I commend him as many would have crumbled after the tasteless booing he received from the most fickle of supporters.

But the fact remains that Jig has never and will never be a centre half no matter how much anyone wants him to be. He doesn’t possess twenty years of experience playing in the position like Dave Weir had. He can’t rely on his expert understanding of the role to bail him out due to his lack of athleticism. What he is though, is a Rangers man through and through and I don’t doubt for one second that he will acknowledge that age has eventually caught up on him and that his admission from the side is for the greater good.

He will need to be ready to be called upon on Sunday though as McGregor’s suspension could mean he has one last act in a Rangers jersey. Let’s hope it’s a good one!

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7 thoughts on “McCall can’t afford to Jig the defence around

  1. I think you are half right. I forecast Jig will not play tonight, but if we manage to take a lead to Fir Park (God willing) he will be in a back 3 with Zaliuskas and Mohsni.
    May the Lord have mercy on our souIs! I hope Jig does enough to go out with his head held high. He stayed when so many ran. I think of them as the TBs – Traitorous B*st*rds – and will never forgive the Rangers fans among them. When people like Goian and Bocanegra declared their loyalty, even if going on loan, people like McGregor and Naismith ran. There are others and I split them into 2 camps. Those with no Rangers heritage I don’t blame. People like Whittaker owes us nothing. Those who were nursed through career ending injuries and profess to love the club are another matter. Peple like Ness and Naismith.

    So although I have issues with McCulloch’s ability as a CB, I give him some credit and hope that he gets through the last game without error, takes the applause then hangs up his boots. He can then take his badges and get a start with a youth team, or head off to pastures new.

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  2. I wrote before the second leg v Hibs that Rangers had been a wee bit fortunate and had scored goals at important times in the games v QotS and Hibs (first leg) right on the stroke of half time. Had Hibs scored 10 mins earlier in the second leg I suspect they would have gone on to win the tie. Tonight v Motherwell, Rangers were once again shown up by the pace and movement of their opponents. Let’s be honest, Motherwell did tonight what Hibs threatened to ( but didn’t) at Ibrox, and that was put the ball in the net. I heard McCall after the match stating that “we have a lot of injuries in there” ( the dressing room) so prepare for a makeshift side on Sunday, minus McGregor who is suspended anyway.

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  3. Rangers were humbled again today by the ELEVENTH best team in the SPFL Premiership……………….simply not good enough and to be honest it would probably have been embarrassing had Rangers been promoted as the likes of Aberdeen would have a field day against that lot. When you look back over the last 3 years of absolute dross and the shambolic results in the Petrofac Cup Final to name but one, tens of millions have been wasted and is the club any better of now than it was 3 years ago???? At least 22m was in the bank!!

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  4. I have written a number of times on this forum (not with the benefit of hindsight) about Rangers getting the strategy badly wrong. I said from the word go that starting with a blank canvass 3 years ago and £20m plus in the bank the approach should have been completely different. I said on a number of occasions that the club may never fully recover from the financial disaster that engulfed them and I still hold that view even though King has taken over. In between times there has been so much garbage spouted from those in power at Ibrox, for example the now infamous 120 day review by Graham Wallace. Charles Green stating that Rangers were the envy of every club in Europe as they had no debt? Even King has joined in by trying to drum up support from institutional investors for a future share issue by regurgitating Charles Greene’s claptrap. With the EGM looming on 12 June, I fear Rangers are still going to struggle in the financial quagmire for the foreseeable future

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