As well as football, one of my great passions in life is cinema, and Rangers bottle job against St. Mirren last night, evoked memories of one of my favourites, Rocky IV.
Rocky Balboa himself would have been proud of the last minute knock-out that The Buddies delivered to the Ibrox tribute act in this thrilling game. Also, let’s face it, with the way the Scottish press have been cowering before them all season, you’d think the Rangers starting eleven consisted of an entire team of Ivan Dragos.
As much as I would love to just devote the next few paragraphs to saying over and over again “let’s all laugh at Rangers” there are lessons to be learned here for Celtic. So let’s take a closer look.
“He’s not a machine! He’s a man!” was the cry of Rocky’s trainer. Well, I think Celtic need to adopt the same philosophy. Whilst much talk in the media recently has been devoted to questions around the confidence, mental strength and heart of this Celtic squad, conversely the opposite has been applied to Rangers. One puff piece after another in the tabloids tells us about the toughness, determination and indestructibility of this Rangers side.
I’ve been saying all season it was a myth, but it was one that, in recent days, I saw more and more Celtic fans buying into. Watching some of Rangers’ recent matches, it seems some of their opponents believed the hype too, opting for damage limitation rather than actually challenging them.
St Mirren showed none of that fear last night. When the Saints landed the proverbial haymaker on Rangers, they couldn’t handle it.
No matter how the media try to spin it, the facts are undeniable. Rangers just blew probably the easiest shot at a trophy they’ll have for a very long time. That has to raise questions about their bottle, about their ability to actually deliver when it matters.
But as fellow Rocky fans will know, there’s two ways this could go from here. Do Rangers follow our hero’s example, get up and keep fighting, or do they follow the line of Rocky’s many opponents and stay down for the count. Their next match will tell us a great deal about this.
In a season where the mental battle seems every bit as important as the physical, how Rangers handle this psychological boot in the balls will tell us a lot about their true character. I’ve been saying for weeks that they would go through a bad spell, every team does. It is how they handle that which will determine whether or not they are genuine challengers to our quest for the ten this year.
In the meantime though, let’s all laugh at Rangers!