By Harvey Byrne
Former Hibernian striker Tam McManus has blasted Pedro Caixinha’s decision to leave Rangers duo Lee Hodson and Clint Hill on the bench against Celtic on Sunday.
The Gers went into the Scottish Cup semi-final against the Hoops on the back of three clean sheets and two victories from their previous three matches.
This then led to Caixinha naming an unchanged back four for the match against Celtic, which contained young duo David Bates and Myles Beerman.
However, Rangers ended up conceding twice with Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair striking past Wes Foderingham in Brendan Rodgers’ side’s 2-0 victory.
The defeat comes just six weeks after Rangers held Celtic to a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park under Graeme Murty and McManus feels Caixinha should have used the same defensive methods the 42-year-old used to grind out a result in March.
“What must have been galling for the Rangers fans watching their side go down with a whimper was that just six weeks ago their boss sat in the stand at Parkhead and watched a tactical masterclass by a rookie coach in Graeme Murty. His side stifled and suffocated Celtic all over the pitch, particularly in the wide areas, and came away with a deserved point,” wrote McManus in his column for the Herald.
“Murty achieved that result with a solid 4-5-1 formation, that pressed high and was brave in possession, a set-up that turned out to be devilishly hard for Celtic to break down. It was a defensively well-drilled Rangers team who looked a throwback to those Walter Smith teams who soaked up everything, and then plunged the dagger.
“One of their best players that day was Lee Hodson, who in terms of out-and-out defending is streets ahead of James Tavernier. He should have been one of the first names on that Rangers team sheet, but instead sat on the bench for 90 minutes. Another strange decision was keeping Clint Hill on the bench.
“Hill has become a real cult hero at Rangers and his experience would have been invaluable in that backline. Now, I appreciate he has been out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, but if he was fit enough to be stripped and named, then surely he was worth the risk to start in what was Rangers’ final shot at winning something this season.”
Both Hill and Hodson made the move north to Ibrox in the summer under former boss Mark Warburton.
Hill, 38, had a slow start to his career in Glasgow, but he has established himself as one of the club’s better defenders and his late equaliser against Celtic will have certainly enhanced his status at the club.
Meanwhile, Hodson, 25, has usually been the backup right-back to James Tavernier this season, which has caused some fans to question the decision.
In other Rangers news, Ray Wilkins was highly critical of the Gers’ Sunday display.