Report: Man Utd v Rangers
Tue 14.9.2010 / 19:45
These are the kind of nights that every Rangers fan lives for, the chance to see Rangers take on the cream of European football in the UEFA Champions League. The World's greatest football tournament. Just hearing that Champions League theme tune sends a shiver down your spine.
And if it's the biggest clubs in Europe you want to play against then you don't get much bigger than Manchester United. What a way to kick-off the campaign. Manchester United at Old Trafford. Three times Champions League winners against Scotland's champions.
Everyone, including myself to a certain degree I must admit, wrote Rangers off before the game. As a fan of course I am always going to have a glimmer of hope, and I did put money on Rangers to win the game, but as much as my heart said Rangers could win or get a draw, my head said no chance.
When I first set eyes on Manchester United's team sheet though I did start to become even more optimistic that we could do something. Don't get me wrong, the eleven selected are still great great players who should have been capable of beating us, but they COULD have had a stronger selection.
Sir Alex Ferguson made ten changes from the team that drew 3-3 with Everton on Saturday. I think you could say there was numerous reasons for this, partly because he had one eye on this weekend's Liverpool game, partly because he was fuming with the players who dropped two points to Everton and partly because two big names were back, namely Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.
Rangers meanwhile had more or less the same pack of players such is the lack of strength of depth in our squad but the formation was changed with Walter Smith opting for an ultra defensive 5-4-1 formation. Smith clearly wanted to give Weir and Bougherra some extra protection so Sasa Papac was moved into a central position to make it a threesome at the back. Kirk Broadfoot took his place at left-back, while Steven Whittaker was back on the right.
It was a familiar looking midfield, albeit with little width. McCulloch and Edu both defensive minded midfielders started while Steven Davis and Steven Naismith completed the midfield line-up. Kenny Miller was given the lone striker role.
As expected, Manchester United came at Rangers and had them hemmed into their own half most of the time. The first half in particular was pretty much United all over Rangers but in the second half Rangers managed to get a bit more possession and even got into some good positions themselves without really creating any clear cut chances.
To be truthful, neither goalkeeper really had any real saves to make as Rangers restricted Manchester United to half chances and long range efforts, most of which went over the bar or round the post. So good were Rangers' defence that United didn't actually get their first corner until the 70th minute.
By far the player who caused the biggest threat to Rangers' goal was Republic of Ireland midfielder Darren Gibson. Any opportunity he gets he will unleash a long range effort and he did so on at least two or three occasions and was so unlucky not to find the net.
There was a couple of decent penalty claims for both teams and they came in either half. The first was for Manchester United in the first half. In a crowded penalty box, the ball clearly came off David Weir's hand. The veteran admitted afterwards that he felt lucky it wasn't given against him but it was unintentional and these ones can go either way. Rangers' penalty claim came towards the end of the second half when Kirk Broadfoot appeared to be clipped on the ankle inside the box.
There was a horrible incident in the second half when Manchested United star Antonio Valencia caught his ankle in an accidental clash with Kirk Broadfoot. It was clear straight away that it was a bad injury as Broadfoot and the other Rangers players waved frantically to get the United medical staff on. Broadfoot was clearly shaken up by the incident. Valencia now faces the rest of the season on the sidelines.
It was a nervy end to the game as six minutes were added on at the end due to Valencia's injury, but Rangers held on for a famous draw and send the brilliantly behaved Rangers fans back home to Glasgow with a smile on their faces.
We should all be proud of the team and the fans after last night. The players done us proud on the pitch and the fans restored our reputation after a minority spoiled it for us and gave us a bad name the last time we were in Manchester.
It was a great night for Rangers and for Scottish football. Am I getting carried away with a 0-0 draw? Yeah maybe, but when you consider the state of Scottish football at the moment, I think I am entitled to get carried away.