The press today is united in one view; Ange made a “mistake” with his tactics yesterday.
There are numerous variations on the theme – “blunder”, “disaster”, “misjudgement”, “error” – but all amount to the same thing.
That Ange blew one of the big decisions of the day, that he tried to accomodate his two strikers and made a mess of it.
This is one of those things I mentioned briefly in one of my articles.
Yet it isn’t true. Ange did not such thing.
And he clarified that at full time.
An injury to James Forrest and a lack of options in other areas made him choose a “lesser of two evils” … but Ange was not happy about having to do it.
What makes this an important point to get across is that there are some sections of the media which are trying to present yesterday as a triumph for our rivals from an adverse position. Actually, their selection “crisis” was probably less acute than ours was.
McCarthy, Taylor and Forrest being fit would have changed the whole way we approached the game.
This isn’t us making excuses, but to pound on Ange for playing Kyogo wide left is to ignore that, in fact, those selections issues left him with very little choice.
For starters, who were the alternatives to Kyogo?
We could have gone with Christie out there, which would have weakened the central midfield because it was the very wrong game to play both Rogic and Turnbull both in. Ange learned that from midweek.
The midfield battle was going to be critical to how the game went.
As it is, I think we shaded it.
We would have been worse off without Christie there, which speaks, to me, to a need for at least one more warm body in that part of the pitch.
McCarthy will fill part of the hole … but McCarthy needs to be fit and ready to do that, and yesterday he wasn’t.
The other options were Bolingoli, which would have been a shock, and Adam Montgomery.
That would have been more palatable to fans, but no less difficult to imagine, especially when we were also missing Greg Taylor to back him up.
You don’t want to go with a young kid in that role when the first choice player behind him isn’t fit.
So Kyogo really was it, and as a player who has spent part of his career in the wide role Ange was sure he could do something.
But although our midfield did perform better than Ibrox’s over the course of the game our passing was poor and we never got the wide players as involved as we might have. That both wings suffered equally is pretty telling.
The problem wasn’t Ange’s decision, it was one of the players Ange relied on yesterday to make that decision work.
Had Edouard scored one of the chances we presented him with then nobody would be talking about Kyogo being better through the middle because we’d have won the game and there would be no need to look for things to beat people up over.
Edouard let him down, pure and simple.
Listening to Ange at full time, it’s clear that he would have loved to start Kyogo through the middle, but he saw no easy way to make it work without a big sacrifice somewhere else.
That he would have dropped Edouard had Forrest been fit – which is what he freely admitted to – shows something even more important; that he realised the Frenchman probably wasn’t going to get it done.
Without actually saying those words, Ange has given us a hint of his frustration.
This is why the next two days are critical to the rebuild.
Whatever you might say about Ange, he takes ownership of his decisions. He was forced into this one though, and he knew it wasn’t an ideal choice.
It was simply the best one he had.
That’s not a man making a mistake.
The mistake would be for the board of directors not to back his judgement in the transfer market, and give him the tools he needs.
Fortunately, at least in terms of the forward positions, we look as if we will.