In the aftermath of another poor result against one of the Scottish Premier League's lesser lights, the Rangers manager and players were falling over themselves to take the blame. "My responsibility," a sullen Paul Le Guen said. "The blame lies with us," Kris Boyd said. "Booooo!" said the home crowd as the players left the pitch.
The pantomime season at Ibrox is into its sixth month and shows no signs of ending. This being the season of generosity, there are plenty of explanations to go round. Le Guen is confused, having arrived without sufficient foreknowledge of the division yet insistent on a sophisticated approach that chopping and changing has blunted further. He bought badly in the summer. And few of his inherited players have much real class. He has lost the dressing-room, which is split into factions along nationality lines. He has fallen out with his captain, Barry Ferguson, and does not rate Boyd. And so on.
All that may be true (in parts) but one consistent thread is now glaring. To use parlance that Le Guen has yet to master: Rangers don't like it up 'em. With St Mirren taking a well-earned point back to Paisley, Rangers have now dropped a staggering 20 points against bottom-six sides this season. They've fared reasonably against Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibernian (and various European opponents in the Uefa Cup campaign) but keep coming unstuck against the small fry.
Boyd scored with a header on his comeback from injury to level Richard Brittain's powerful opener, which was set up by the hard work of Saints' admirable lone front man, Mark Corcoran. But Boyd was far from happy. "Not good enough," he said."We should beat teams like St Mirren at Ibrox."
They should, and St Mirren's compact, hard-working approach was only part of the reason they did not. Rangers no longer seem capable of scrapping for anything, and precision in the final third is AWOL. Boyd was among those responsible for 12 Rangers chances that went awry or were saved. Déjà vu.
Le Guen said he was pleased with the performance, if not the result. He admitted: "I know that we have problems, otherwise we would have better results. It's not easy to solve them but I know football enough to know that it's not by saying big sentences, it's by working."
Goals: Brittain (14) 0-1; Boyd (19) 1-1.
Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Hutton, Svensson, Hemdani, Papac; Sionko, Clement, Ferguson, Adam (Burke, 59); Boyd, Novo. Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Rae, Murray, Sebo, Stanger, Lennon.
St Mirren (4-5-1): Bullock; Van Zanten, Broadfoot, Millen, Maxwell; Reid, Brittain, Murray (McKenna, h-t), Brady, Lappin; Corcoran (Gemmill, 90). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Potter, Sutton, McCay, McGinn.
Referee: E Smith (Scotland).
Booked: Rangers Novo; St Mirren Brittain.
Man of the match: Corcoran.
Attendance: 50,273.Reuse content