Rangers huffed and puffed to a victory that was never going to bring the house down. Dunfermline, managerless and adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League, had not won here for 40 seasons. Success was the very least the home support expected, even in these worrying times.
The trouble is, this one match did more to highlight the problems facing Paul Le Guen than provide answers. He is a French technocrat with lofty ambitions. Even in English, that is not translating to numerous Rangers players. They just want to win.
The stand-out moment on Saturday came not on the pitch but in the press conference, when the under-fire Rangers manager was asked why Kris Boyd had started on the bench, again.
There was some fluffy preamble about the rigours of four games in 12 days. Then Le Guen got to the point. "It's up to him to show his qualities," he said opaquely. Pressed on the issue, he gave a look of disdain, said "It was a decision" and walked out.
Something is wrong deep in the heart of Rangers. To use the vernacular, Le Guen clearly "doesn't fancy" Boyd at all. Never mind that Boyd scored the opener on Saturday, 16 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute, with the excellent left-back Stevie Smith lashing home the second. Or that last season, Boyd was top scorer at two clubs, Kilmarnock and Rangers, providing hard evidence that, for his shortcomings, he is effective in the box.
This is a big hurdle for Le Guen: having players - and not just Boyd - who he would not hire of his own accord but who he has to accommodate, at least short-term, because they offer the best chance of stringing some results together.
Yet instead of deploying these players in what they probably consider is the most effective manner (4-4-2, Boyd always a starter), he has persisted with a 4-2-3-1 line-up that mostly flatters to deceive.
How infuriating then, to play 4-4-2 on Saturday and win, but only when Boyd came on. Le Guen's dilemma is progress on his own terms, or results on someone else's. The resolution will be painful, but for whom remains to be seen.
Goals: Boyd (61) 1-0; Smith (77) 2-0.
Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Hutton, Svensson, Hemdani, Smith; Adam (Rae, 88), Ferguson, Clement, Martin (Boyd, h-t); Novo, Prso (Sebo, 88). Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Buffel, Papac, Ponroy.
Dunfermline Athletic (4-5-1): McKenzie; Labonte, Bamba, Shields, S Morrison (Woods, 78); O Morrison (Daquin, 83), Mason, Ross, Simmons, Hamilton; Crawford (Williamson, 90). Substitutes not used: Paterson (gk), Muirhead, Phinn, Muir.
Referee: S Conroy (Scotland).
Booked: Rangers Smith; Dunfermline Simmons, Bamba.
Man of the match: Smith.
* Thomas Gravesen hit a hat-trick as League leaders Celtic beat St Mirren 3-1 at Love Street yesterday, John Sutton scoring a consolation goal for the home side.Reuse content