Sat, Aug
27 New Articles

BIG Marvin Andrews has been taking a pounding since his performance in Cyprus the other night against Anorthosis Famagusta.

I even read Mark Hateley saying that he should never play again in Europe as he's not good enough.

To be honest, I think it's been a bit over the top. OK, Marv was poor in the 2-1 win over in Nicosia.

In fact, I think it was probably his worst performance in a Rangers jersey.

The big man was ponderous and got caught out of position - but some of the stuff raining down on him has been out or order.

Put it this way, Thomas Buffel had a shocker in Cyprus - should he be dropped for European games?

You just can't hang a man on one performance, although there is no doubt that Marvin - and some others in that team - will have to improve if Rangers do make it into the Champions League proper.

Marv wasn't the only one in Rangers' rearguard that had sloppy moments.

Michael Ball got caught out with a couple of long balls over his head, while new boy Julien Rodriguez was to blame for the goal when he tried to kill a ball on his thigh that should have been sent to Row Z.

But Andrews is an easy target and people like to go after him when he makes mistakes.

There are mitigating circumstances. Last season, he struck up a decent partnership with Jean-Alain Boumsong.

Then it was Soto Kyrgiakos who came into the team alongside him for the second half of the season.

Andrews has started the first two matches in the SPL in partnership with Jose Pierre-Fanfan - but had Rodriguez, who speaks no English, thrown in for his debut in what was the biggest game of the season in terms of pressure.

There must have been communication issues, and these are the things McLeish will have to work on at Murray Park.

Defending is crucial at that level, but Rangers managed to get some breaks the other night and should finish the job off at home.

As for Andrews, I have no doubt he will have been annoyed with some of the basic mistakes that he made to allow the Famagusta strikers an eye on goal.

But the former Livingston man was hammered for his mistakes when Rangers lost the Scottish Cup tie to Celtic at Parkhead in January just after Boumsong had gone to Newcastle.

He learned from that, took it on the chin, and was magnificent in the rest of the campaign as Rangers won the title.

All this stuff about him not being good enough for the Champions League is quite amusing.

Rangers have gone into previous campaigns with class acts, better squads, players such as Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup ... and still ended up on the wrong side of some beatings.

I think Rangers will be far stronger when McLeish settles on a defensive formation in his mind.

He might go with a three, or he might just base his team on a horses for courses as a lot of manager do these days.

But he'll be fairly happy. Rangers complete an arduous week that has had them in Inverness, make the long European trip, and finish at Pittodrie on Sunday.

They have come through the first two tests without playing well - but it's win at any cost right now.