Rangers supporters have been drowning their sorrows in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side’s slim Scottish Premiership title chances all but vanish after losing the Old Firm derby 3-2 at Ibrox on Sunday.
Graeme Murty’s men went into their meeting with leaders Celtic having won each of their preceding four league games, a streak which moved them to within six points of the Bhoys ahead of Sunday’s encounter. And while the Gers twice led through Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias, they weren’t able to close the gap on Brendan Rodgers’ side as goals from Tom Rogic, Moussa Dembele, and Odsonne Edouard secured a vital victory for the Bhoys, in turn moving them nine points clear of the Light Blues, and still with a game in hand.
As such, there have been many frustrated Rangers fans in the Tavern in the last few days, several of whom are sincerely hoping that their team can get back to winning ways when they host Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Saturday.
And many of those Gers supporters lining up at the bar have been discussing who should start against Steve Clarke’s men on Saturday, and many are of the opinion that defender Fabio Cardoso should be nowhere near the starting eleven.
The 23-year-old didn’t actually start against Rodgers’ Celtic last weekend but was called upon after just 15 minutes following an injury to David Bates, yet the former Portugal youth international did little to make a case for a regular first team place – the fact that it was his first appearance since January says a lot about his position in the pecking order.
The centre-back made an error for Celtic’s second goal on Saturday, letting the ball bounce and ultimately not being strong enough to deal with a relatively hopeful long ball, and he didn’t cover himself in glory with the third Bhoys goal either, selling himself to the right to allow Edouard to cut in and fire past Wes Foderingham.
Yes, it’s not particularly easy coming off the bench having not played for a while in a huge game like Sunday’s, but it’s pretty evident that Cardoso is not at the level seen from the likes of Bates, Russell Martin, and even Bruno Alves in recent times – he struggled throughout against Rodgers’ side.
And while Murty has a few defensive issues ahead of Saturday’s clash against Killy, given the injuries to Bates and Martin, that shouldn’t mean that Cardoso gets a free pass into the backline, especially given that Lee Wallace has stepped up his recovery from injury in recent times, and could well do a job at centre-back this weekend.
Ultimately, it’s clear from his efforts against Celtic that Murty simply must not start £810,000-rated Cardoso (as per Transfermarkt) against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
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