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Rangers 2-1 Motherwell: Six conclusions from Gers’ hard-fought win

Some conclusions and talking points to take home after Rangers scraped past Motherwell.

Rangers v Hamilton: Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Rangers have stopped making sense

We’re going to get in the spirit of the euphoria of that late winner to send us top of the league and remind everybody that this was a pretty rotten performance. It wasn’t poor luck and dodgy defending - we just plain played badly.

Rangers’ short-passing style is increasingly looking a bit strange. Why do we constantly shove the ball out wide for a cross every two minutes when only in injury time were we prepared to put more than one or two players in the box? That’s understandable if you want to play defensively and keep the team shape, but too often everybody’s hanging about in useless positions instead of taking a chance.

We should be a far better team this season than we so far have been. The team isn’t looking like the sum of its parts, which was supposed to be the advantage of getting our business done early. We need to figure out what our style is very quickly.

Mr Warburton got lucky

Mr Warburton got a lot of things wrong today, and Rangers probably got the win despite his decisions rather than due to it. Andy Halliday can function next to a defensive midfielder, but not as the furthest forward in a three. This is known, and became increasingly obvious as the game went on. We still waited far too long to sub him or change things up. Then there was the baffling decision to take off Barrie McKay, who had created virtually every chance we’d had, and another late introduction of Michael O’Halloran. We got away with it this time (and, to be fair, Kenny Miller did end up getting the late goal) but we desperately need to get a more coherent idea of which players work well together.

Joey Barton shouldn’t be an ever-present yet

Barton undoubtedly has plenty of talent, but he’s hardly shown it so far. He hardly sticks out as a player of vast quality and experience playing in a league of jobbers, as he and others appeared to assume when he arrived. He’s not fit, clearly, but then if he isn’t, then he shouldn’t be playing every minute.

Rob Kiernan needs dropped

Danny Wilson has been decent since returning to the fold, and it’s probably time to try him with Clint Hill next game if we don’t have someone else in. Starting Kiernan in this form is starting the game a goal down.

Leaders need to lead

Now that we’re so lucky to be packed with ‘leaders’, why do we react so appallingly to setbacks? Yes, Ibrox can be as intimidating a place for the home side as the visitors, but other Rangers teams seemed to manage that perfectly well. There’s not been much sign of a better mentality that the likes of Barton, Hill and others ought to have brought, not to mention with Miller and Wallace on the pitch too. Instead, the real ones who shone were the ones who simply got on with it and led by example - notably James Tavernier and, to a lesser extent, Barrie McKay. Both of whom are totally unsuited to the captaincy, of course, but they offer huge amounts of drive and invention when the chips are down.

It’s clear why we signed Joe Garner

Garner could possibly be the first sign of Mr Warburton adopting a Plan B however. It’s strange to see by far our biggest outlay of the summer being on a player who, in theory, is our polar opposite in terms of style, but games like today would be a lot simpler with the big man in. It’s a mystery why we continue to bombard the area with cutbacks and crosses when we have neither the numbers nor type of player to convert them, but Garner should change all that.