THOSE who do not want to know about a football match:
look away now. The narrative of Rangers has understandably concerned Libor rates, EBTS, tax tribunals, CVAs and IPOs. Indulge me. This article will focus on football.
After the King v Board main event on Friday night, amid the feverish speculation over the future of Rangers, a football match broke out at Ibrox. That's right. A proper football match. A big stadium packed with fans, two teams a mere 90 minutes away from a William Hill Scottish Cup final, and enough balloons to populate the boardrooms of Britain.
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It was tense, competitive and occasionally, just occasionally, classy. And Rangers played their part. It was a day full of passion, incident and intrigue.
The blue constituency will focus, of course, on how Ally McCoist's players performed in their biggest challenge of the season. The rest of Scotland has an interest too. The advent of Rangers to the SPFL Premiership may only be a year away, depending on off-field matters and the rigours of the Championship.
The semi-final was compelling but it produced some dramatic and overheated comment. Not all of it was written by me.
The truth is that Rangers are not as bad as recent performances against Albion Rovers, Brechin City and, of course, Raith Rovers suggest. They are, too, not as good as many insisted after the 3-1 defeat by Dundee United.
It is understandable, even right, that Ally McCoist should talk up his team after the kickings. However, the truth in football is usually to be found in the evidence played before one's eyes rather than that directed towards the lughole. The scoreline, too, usually offers evidence that is convincing if not always irrefutable.
Rangers were committed and driven against Dundee United. But the days when that effort becomes a notable virtue is the time when Rangers fans would be forgiven for walking away. Effort is a given.
The problem for Rangers was two-fold on Saturday. They defended calamitously and wasted chances. One simple sentence but such actions have predictable consequences.
Dean Shiels could have opened the scoring and Jon Daly should have later have at least hit the target from inside the box. They did not. Stuart Armstrong, in contrast, ran intelligently with both hope and wit into the box and arched his body perfectly to place a precise volley past Steve Simonsen. The gap between what the Rangers players attempted and what the Dundee United midfielder completed is what defines games. It has nothing to do with fortune.
If the forward players could never quite convert chances or capitalise on the blunt but effective tactic of running off Daly's dominance in the air, the Rangers defence was regularly fallible. All three goals could have been prevented. A ragged back line allowed Armstong to run into space for the first, Richard Foster gave away the ball in a dangerous area for the second and the third was one of those concessions that makes managers weep salt tears.
How is this for an option? The clock is running down, you are losing 1-2 but your side has been winning everything in the air. You are awarded a free kick wide on the right. That's right, you bang the ball into the box. Not if you are Ian Black. You instead play a quick free kick to a player who is offside. It does not reach him, the referee plays advantage as Andrew Robertson hoofs clear and Foster and Simonsen perform the sort of act perfected by Laurel and Hardy. Game over. But the lessons linger.
First, McCoist was unlucky in that Lee Wallace and Cammy Bell, his best players, missed the match. But he will accept he has much to address in the short term. The back four needs strengthening. Foster has lost pace and confidence, Bilel Mohsni must be told that he has to defend with discipline and cannot simply and regularly concede possession. Lee McCulloch can still have a role but he needs to be protected by his fellow central defenders and his full-back.
Up front, Daly is still commanding in the air but is increasingly less mobile. Nicky Clark has scored goals in the Championship but Rangers need another quick, young striker.
The midfield is relatively strong. There were outlandish claims made of Arnold Peralta after his performance on Saturday but he was only occasionally dangerous. Fraser Aird started well but has to improve his final ball and David Templeton can also contribute from wide areas. The central midfield has Nicky Law, looking a Premiership-class player on Saturday, and Ian Black, who should be good enough for the Championship but is conspicuous more for snarling nonsense rather than the creative pass.
This is a better Rangers team than a year ago but they must improve further. Unfortunately, that takes one into discussions about hostile bids, rights issues and 120-day reviews.
Sorry. I did try to keep it to the football …