It can be hard being a Rangers fan, can’t it?
The dust has barely settled at Ibrox. I’m sitting on a train heading back down south questioning absolutely everything.
We headed into this Old Firm game as favourites. The Other Mob™️ had a fairly depleted side, they hadn’t scored a goal since August 13th and they had been knocked out of the League Cup. We hadn’t exactly been brilliant either, however, there were promising signs. A fairly decent-ish performance against PSV at home gave us some notion that what Beale was trying to do was working. Even if we didn’t quite know what that was. Then we headed out to Eindhoven and were ‘skelped’ and utterly humiliated.
Still, though, we weren’t as bad as THEM, right?
Roll on Sunday. I was in a chipper, positive mood. I felt we had this. I knew it wouldn’t be a walkover, however, I thought it would be a 2-0.
Team sheets came out while I was in the bowels of Ibrox and surprisingly Borna Barisic was a glaring omission. Glaring is probably the wrong word to use as he hobbled off v PSV at the 71-minute mark midweek, however, Beale assured us in the pre-match presser that Barisic was fit and would be fine for Sunday. Mind Games for the opposition I guess. Now I’ve not been Borna’s biggest fan in recent times due to his negativity with his play. He would, in possession, come forward, stop, turn back and give the ball back to the defence or keeper, breaking any potential move down. Also, he tends to just ‘give up’ at points in games. Unforgivable. He had, however, started this season fairly well. Nothing world-class, but nonetheless able to play more positively. Borna’s omission meant Dijon Sterling would get his first Old Firm start, awkwardly at LB.
Roofe was also given a start along with Matondo, Jack and Dessers.
The build-up to the game was immense. Ibrox rocking, the tifo from the Union Bears was sublime. Utilising our new ‘pulley’ tifo system.
The game started at a ferocious pace. We looked like we meant business. A lovely counter in the first minute and a great ball from Dessers to Matondo looked to put us 1-0 up, however, the linesman’s flag was raised fairly quickly.
‘Auch well’ – start as we mean to go on eh? We passed the ball around a lot, and then The Other Mob™️ started to gain possession and we fell flat. Very flat. We seemed to want them to have possession from the back and come forward. We stood off. Think we wanted to wait for them to make a mistake. A few times they tried to play the ball, they put it out of play. Either way, it was fairly turgid. We didn’t look comfortable. Then, at around 27 minutes that mistake came. Or so it seemed. Dessers, who had been fairly quiet, robbed Gustaf Lagerbielke, got into the box well, laid it off to Roofe and he absolutely buried it. Bedlam. 1-0. ‘The Roof Is On Fire’ blares around Ibrox. Tonto. Then as we are in euphoric celebration, we all notice the referee has players around him, Hart is placing the ball down for a free kick. Na can’t be a free kick, can it?
Now we’re all thinking we missed something. We saw Dessers rob Lagerbielke, it didn’t look like a foul.
Of course. Like last season when we had a goal ruled out v Them there wasn’t much in it. This time even less so. For me, that’s not a free kick. In any way, shape or form. Conspiracy? No. Useless officiating? Yes. Not poor officiating initially from Don Robertson who allowed play to continue, but from Alan Muir in the VAR room who when reviewing the goal told Robertson to review it.
Ibrox waited with a stunned grumble and bated breath.
It didn’t take Robertson long to award the free kick which was already being sized up by Hart.
The reaction of the opposition players said it all. Lagerbielke was getting it tight for allowing Dessers to just rob him. He wasn’t pleading for a free kick. The pic below shows Roofe celebrating over with the UB. The Other Mob, dejected that they had conceded a goal. Does that look like a team who should have had a free kick in the build-up?
They don’t do they?
Now before I start sounding like a looney, we have to look at the facts. Is it an actual foul? Don Robertson didn’t blow his whistle at the time, granted he could have missed it. VAR can intervene if there’s a ‘Clear and Obvious Error’. This wasn’t clear or obvious. All goals are of course reviewed by VAR. Still, though there’s no clear and obvious error.
Now there is a rule which is what I think VAR has ‘flagged’ for which is around ‘impeding the progress of an opponent without contact’.