Rangers performance against Celtic was pathetic, fearful and mentally weak – Chris Sutton

The Rangers players can talk the talk but the biggest issue is that eventually you have be able to walk the walk and I just don’t see it with them. Yesterday’s Scottish Cup semi-final was the game they all cheered for in the dressing room when the draw was made but their performance in the 4-0 defeat was pathetic. I’d have kept my head so far down if I hadn’t beaten my closest rivals in eight games, as was the case at that point. It was naivety beyond belief.

Rangers players look dejected
(Image: SNS)
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As for the game itself you can look at Graeme Murty and talk about tactics, I get that. But the players need to have a long, hard look at themselves. How many players at Hampden were fit to wear the Rangers shirt? I didn’t see it being as easy as it was for Celtic and it was embarrassing from Rangers.

You can’t keep having all the talk and not back it up. That’s 10 games now where Brendan Rodgers is unbeaten against their rivals and it’s panic stations again at Ibrox. It’s been too volatile at the club from the chairman Dave King all the way down to the players. Most of the Rangers fans had left long before the end and quite rightly so. It’s getting to another crisis point at Ibrox and the whole club needs a good look at itself.

I don’t think King’s letter to season ticket holders at the start of the week, leaving Murty’s future in doubt in such a critical week, helped matters. Rangers need to make wholesale changes to get close to Celtic. I’ve got sympathy for the boss as he was thrown in by a board who couldn’t decide on a new manager after Pedro Caixinha. It’s an attractive job and Rangers are a big club but who is going to want to actually go in there and inherit a group of players who are mentally weak? There needs to be a level of stability at the club. Yesterday was a game Murty had to win to stake a claim as Rangers manager but there’s no way he can get the job now. Yet I feel for him, I really do. Rodgers is a step ahead but this mess isn’t just down to him.

Rangers looked like ‘rabbits in the headlights’
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However, the one thing about Rangers under Murty in other games against Celtic is that they have been positive and looked a threat. But they came out at Hampden and looked like rabbits in the headlights. It shows the players are mentally weak and embarrassed the Rangers jersey. Murty spoke about the Rangers players being mentally weak when he talked about how long it took them to recover psychologically from last month’s defeat at Ibrox. Celtic turned up and it was always going to be the case that if they turned up they would win the game. And it was also a mismatch tactically. Andy Halliday was a surprise start and he appeared to have a pop at the Rangers bench after he was substituted just before half-time.

Rangers’ Andy Halliday shows his frustrations after being substituted
Murty said after the game he will speak to the midfielder but he needs to have a good look at himself and the club have a decision to make over his future. Halliday didn’t get close to anyone while he was on the park and his conduct was totally unacceptable. He was screaming at the bench – blaming everyone else but himself and that sums up the Rangers players’ mentality. What kind of ship are Rangers running? Halliday was discarded by the previous manager and brought back in by Murty but was absolutely hopeless against Celtic yesterday. So what right does he have to act like that? The Rangers players are out of control. Kris Commons did something similar with Ronny Deila in Molde but the difference is he could actually play and back it up.

Kris Commons having a go at Ronny Deila
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Halliday has done nothing and should have been ashamed of his performance. I’m not saying Murty got it right but the 26-year-old should have kept his head down in that situation. It was a big call for the Rangers manager bringing in Halliday with Ross McCrorie another option in that position. Did he get it right? Obviously not. He left out the vastly experienced Bruno Alves and should maybe have played McCrorie one up. Moussa Dembele is not lightning quick and you can’t tell me Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic are going to sprint away from the Rangers backline. The Rangers players were fearful. Gaffer Murty was right when he said it took them a long time to recover from last month’s 3-2 defeat because they’re mentally weak.

Sutton was impressed by Brown
But we have to give Celtic credit. They haven’t hit the heights of last season but their big players turned up again when they were under scrutiny. Scott Brown ran the game, Rogic again produced as he does in this fixture and McGregor took his goal well. There was talk before the game over whether Brendan would go with Dembele or Leigh Griffiths and the Celtic manager has that luxury. But Dembele was outstanding and too much for Rangers as he often has been when he’s played against them in a Celtic shirt – his record is phenomenal – and it will be good for him to silence some of his doubters. Celtic did what they had to do and are just one step away from a double Treble which, regardless of their form this season, would be an incredible achievement. Motherwell have a puncher’s chance in the final on May 19. They have a manager who believes in his players and I guarantee that on the day they’ll give Celtic more of a game than Rangers did. Read More