Mr Warburton must take some blame
We are a long way from there being a serious turning point on Mark Warburton dividing the support or having fans turn on him, but tonight feels like the end of a long honeymoon. It is no longer the automatic sign of a roaster to criticise the manager at all, and deservedly so.
"Second half much better" - it always is, Mark. Why do you think that is? Why are you persisting with the 4-2-3-1 when it isn’t working? Why did you spend what was, at the time, a very large sum of money on Michael O’Halloran when you quite clearly don’t trust him? Why persist with Kenny Miller even when he’s playing terribly? Why can’t we play the same passing game we did last season?
There are a lot of questions here. If this defeat is not learned from, Warburton might find things getting sour very rapidly.
James Tavernier - not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need right now
There may have been some suggestions of Tavernier’s attitude this season, but it certainly hasn’t shown on the pitch. He has been the outstanding performer of this campaign so far, and has been the player to provide the vast majority of our drive and imagination when the chips are down. That was never more evident than tonight, when he scored a magnificent free-kick before single-handedly providing a flurry of chances down the right. He’s not captain material, but he’s leading by example better than anybody else is in vague theories of them being "great pros".
Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar - the heroes we deserve, but not the heroes we need right now
Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar ought to have used their experience to calm the team down and supply some precise passing to zip the ball around the pitch and ramp up the pressure on Killie. They didn’t. Kranjcar was diabolical when he came on, while Barton was, as usual, lost in a deeper role. That’s not really his fault - he’s far better up the pitch, and has won the ball for several goals this season when able to get stuck in and use his excellent timing of the challenge, but putting him deeper means he offers little on the ball and next to nothing off it as players simply run past him. Buying quality, experienced players is a total waste of time unless we know how to use them.
We were probably wrong about Jason Holt
The addition of several midfield players this season led many to believe that Jason Holt might suffer due to his lack of versatility, short range of passing and poor form after his injury last season. Nobody would doubt his boundless energy or his willingness to always make himself available for a pass and make runs into the box, but it didn’t seem enough. Now, however, we’ve seen the slow, ponderous alternative, and he looks far better for his absence. Hopefully he can get back to fitness soon. He’s a limited player, but everything he does well are the kind of things we’ve been desperately lacking this season.