Match Preview: Three Points Santa, Please!

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When kick-off arrives on Saturday, Santa will have departed from the North Pole and will be in mid-flight, speedily heading for his busiest night of the year. Having just checked the weather forecast, it looks like being a bumpy ride. He will have mild conditions but wind and rain await, so let’s hope the reindeer are in “Top Gun” flying mode as they hurtle through the night sky delivering parcels to children everywhere in the world!

All of us attending Saturdays match will be hoping for an early Christmas present. The arrival of Inverness Caledonian Thistle being the second meeting of the season, the first being at the Caledonian Stadium where a Kenny Miller strike (his 100th goal for the club) was enough to secure a victory and a pleasant homeward journey for the travelling bears. A similar result this Saturday would no doubt be satisfactory. After some encouraging and spirited performances against Aberdeen, Hearts and Hamilton, that produced some great football and fighting attributes that had been sadly lacking, I feel we are all hopeful that we can produce another quality home performance that should enable us to win with a more comfortable score line.

The atmosphere at these last few home matches has been incredible. The Aberdeen match being the highlight for me personally. The team have found the will to fight for the jersey. A packed Ibrox with the crowd fully behind the side does incredible things for the players. I remember as a boy being told this by my grandfather, and it’s really not until now that I realise the importance of what he was trying to say: Ibrox is a fortress and when the supporters install this belief in the players, in our team, great things happen. Magical things happen, a collective belief among 50,000 supporters transfers onto 11 players on the park and they can achieve great things together. A collective effort they never thought was possible before they felt the avalanche of noise and atmosphere cascade from the Ibrox cauldron. I notice that there are still some tickets left for Saturdays match. If any bears want to take their kids to a game, get away from the missus (or mister) for a few hours or even an early Xmas gift for someone then all the usual outlets can be found to purchase tickets, and info can be found at rangers.co.uk

Inverness will arrive at Ibrox having not won a match since October 26th, one of only three matches they have won in the Scottish Premiership all season. Richie Foran’s side, I have no doubt, will come to Ibrox with the intention of sitting in, holding out for a draw and possibly trying to catch us on the counter. It seems that has been the mantra of most teams that we have hosted at Ibrox this year.

I remember in 2008 on the road to Manchester the cries of “anti football” from the Rangers haters, the irony that many of these same people continue to defend and compliment these same tactics when others come to Ibrox. This only compounds and reinforces everyone’s belief that we are disliked by many for more than just “footballing reasons”. We may have a long ninety minutes on Saturday, however should we score an early goal, in the first twenty minutes or so, I would imagine the game will open up and we could run out winners relatively comfortably. As has been commented by many, we simply must be more clinical with our finishing; we should be putting sides away and not biting nails at the end.

However, the improvement over the last few weeks has been dramatic indeed. Many of us were going into meltdown after the match at Tynecastle. I also notice some say it was premature. Let’s be honest: we were awful that night and had been pretty awful in a preceding number of games. Therefore if there were fans or supporters pressing the panic button it was hardly surprising. What is surprising, and extremely pleasing, is the improvement in performance and attitude from the players. The management team look more upbeat and we are all hopeful for the future again.

I would like to see Garner rested for this match and start with Miller, possibly the same with the trip to Perth during the week. The rationale being that Garner is one card away from a suspension and I really want to see him in and about the unwashed defence on Hogmanay. I’m also a fan of Clint Hill and would take Wilson out the side and play Hill with Kiernan as they look comfortable together. Other than that my side and formation would be the same as Hamilton. Fodeeringham who is looking more composed in goal with a back four of Wallace, Hill, Kiernan and Hodson.

The arrival of Hodson in place of Tavernier at right back has been another huge factor in our improvement. A Midfield of Holt, Halliday and Tavernier who -- similarly looks like he could make a difference in the midfield role he now occupies. Upfront we have Miller, McKay and Waghorn.

I will plump for 3-1 bears with Waghorn as first goal scorer. That will be the best present that many of us will wish for from Santa this year. A comfortable home victory. Maybe I will receive an Xmas bonus from the bookie that has been pilfering my wallet since time began?

With the match being on Christmas Eve, most of us, I am sure will be looking forward to a festive season with family and friends. Please let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Wealthy and Happy New Year. There are also some who are not so fortunate. So please spare a thought at this time of year for those, who for one reason or another, are going through difficulties, be they emotional, physical or social; if you know someone, say hello and wish them a Merry Christmas. It can be the little things that make all the difference. Better still if you see any good causes, in the spirit of giving at Christmas, pop a pound in their tin. No matter what others may say, I am certain, we are by far the greatest fans in the world.

C’mon the Bears!

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