Only two sides had stopped Rangers from winning before this weekend, but Motherwell became the third and Stephen O’Donnell tells us even that was a little disappointing…
Before this weekend Rangers had dropped a grand total of four points in 23 games.
Coming into their fixture against Motherwell, who by kick-off were bottom of the Premiership, most would have confidently predicted an easy win for Steven Gerrard’s side.
But no. Motherwell led for 50 minutes after taking an early lead through Devante Cole, and eventually came away with an extremely creditable point.
Not bad for a side who haven’t won since October and are still getting used to their new manager Graham Alexander.
“It was obviously a great result,” full-back Stephen O’Donnell tells The Totally Scottish Football Show.
“But I think the more pleasing thing was a lot of the things we’d worked on during the week, we were able to implement and managed to put in a good team performance, which is the most important thing. And on the back of what was, I thought, a disappointing result against St Mirren, albeit it was a good point to start the new manager’s reign. I thought we deserve more. So to get something against Rangers, who are obviously flying, was a great result.”
This was Alexander’s second game after taking over from Stephen Robinson, so it’s perhaps even more impressive that he managed to put a game plan together to get a point from the champions elect.
“I think obviously there’s no surprise how Rangers play, having seen them often enough,” said O’Donnell, who has only been at Fir Park a few months himself, having moved from Kilmarnock at the end of the summer transfer window.
“Their full-backs push on very high. We were hoping to kind of overload them on the counter in the wide areas when Barisic and Tavernier go forward. A couple of times we managed to do that, certainly in the first half.
“It was just being patient. They’ll have a lot of the ball, let them play around us, but crucial that they don’t play through us. I think the goal – we’ll be disappointed that we conceded it, albeit it might’ve been marginally offside. It’s always difficult to get those ones against the Old Firm. I think we managed to put everything into practice.”
And what of Alexander, who arrived at Motherwell after a spell in England managing Salford City.
“Personally, I’ve been very impressed. He’s come in, a lot of enthusiasm, looking to get us playing with a bit more intensity, if that’s the right word.
“But the old manager I thought was unfortunate with a lot of results. We lost a lot of games by such small margins. The game against Hibs that we lost 3-0 probably sums up my first four months at Motherwell. We probably dominated the game for sixty minutes, sixty five minutes, conceded a goal against the run of play, they then had a spell of 10, 15 minutes. Last five minutes we’re pushing for an equalizer, and then win 3-0. Headlines are ‘How bad are Motherwell?’”
As good a result as the Rangers draw was, it will obviously pale in comparison to the biggest moment of O’Donnell’s, or indeed any Scottish player or fan’s year. O’Donnell was in the Scotland team on that famous night in Serbia, when David Marshall’s penalty saves took them to their first major tournament in 22 years.
At a time like this, when everyone could do with something of a boost, it was one of those extraordinary moments that transcends sport.
“I certainly hope that every football fan in the country – even maybe not football fans, just the average punter – has seen a bit of a lift. Obviously, with lockdown and everything that’s going on makes it more difficult to see that.
“To get there is just so important for the for the country, because we are a football nation, it’s been a long, long time and it was crucial that we’ve eventually managed to achieve what we’ve always been capable of achieving
“I thought we put in an outstanding performance against a top side and made them look average. And I just hope that we’re able to do that three times in the [group games at the Euros] and have something to to really be proud of.”
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