‘These are the days that we are judged on… so suck it up’: Rangers boss Michael Beale tells his players they must improve in post-match inquest on the pitch following Scottish League Cup final defeat by Celtic
- Celtic lift the Scottish League Cup once again with 2-1 win over rivals Rangers
- Kyogo Furuhashi scored twice from close range to retain trophy for the Bhoys
- Michael Beale’s Gers got a consolation through a strike from Alfredo Morelos
Michael Beale told his Rangers players to ‘suck it up’ after defeat to Celtic in the Viaplay Cup final ended his 14-game unbeaten run as manager.
An Alfredo Morelos goal after 64 minutes dragged the Ibrox side back into the game after Kyogo Furuhashi’s double either side of half-time.
Beale admitted there were no excuses for the failure to deliver his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.
He was then asked what he had said to his team when he gathered them on the Hampden touchline for an impromptu huddle at time up.
‘Suck it up,’ he replied bluntly. ‘It’s not nice but, on the day, we didn’t come to the game until the second half in my opinion, so no qualms.
Rangers boss Michael Beale gathered his players for an impromptu huddle
‘On the day, we lost the game and it’s not nice, so suck it up, get on board.
‘You have to look at yourself in the mirror every day and that’s your biggest opponent.
‘Are you being honest with that person? Are we working hard enough? Is the work we’re doing good enough?
‘These are the days that we are judged on.
‘We have to win the other games, but on these days this is when judgment day comes and we get it. We take it on.
‘So that was what we spoke about in that brief moment there.
‘I didn’t want anyone making any false opinions in their mind. We lost the game.’
Ryan Kent struck the base of the post with a low drive early in the second half, with Fashion Sakala unable to convert the loose ball, as the Scottish Cup holders looked to retrieve the loss of a Kyogo Furuhashi goal before half-time.
The Japanese international’s second close-range finish gave Beale’s side a mountain to climb, a clinical finish from Morelos threatening to spark a fightback which failed to materialise.
The wait for Rangers captain James Tavernier to lift the Scottish League Cup goes on
‘We started the game really poorly. We never found any rhythm in the first half,’ said Beale.
‘We were always in the game, but we never played with a rhythm that we wanted to, that we can do. There are no complaints with the overall result.
‘I thought at the start of the second half, we improved, we had a big moment when Ryan hits the post and we should do better with the rebound.
‘If we score in that moment, then that’s it, there might be a momentum change.
‘We find ourselves 2-0 down, but we go and score and show a lot of character and resilience to try and push the game. But I was expecting more, from the team, from myself, from the day, so it’s disappointing.’
Despite an intense push for extra-time after the introduction of January signings Nicolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell, it was Celtic who wasted chances to add to the scoreline in the final minutes.
Insisting it was too big a gamble to start both new signings after precious little first-team action, Beale felt his starting XI was his strongest.
But he conceded: ‘We didn’t play to our true level. I’ll have to go back with the staff and the players and look at it.
‘I don’t want to make a mountain out of today’s performance, because we’ve done well since I’ve come back — that’s the first defeat in 15 matches — but there’s been a number of games when it’s taken a half-time, honest conversation to force a reaction from the team.
‘I thought the boys that came on did well and we showed more energy and intensity in the game. Celtic were more uncomfortable.
‘But, look, it’s disappointing, we had moments, a moment in the first half when someone makes an excellent block on a cross. They score in those moments.
‘If Fashion takes that chance at 1-0 when Ryan hits the post, then maybe we’re sat here and it’s a different game. But it’s not. So, no excuses, Celtic won the game and congratulations to them.
‘I don’t want to take anything away from Celtic. They are clearly a very good team, they’ve got some very good players and I thought they played well today.
‘So, much as I will go back and assess my own team, the resistance from the opponents was a big one.’
While a nine-point margin on Celtic makes a title bid unlikely, Beale challenged his side to make the rest of the season count.
A Scottish Cup quarter-final against Raith Rovers beckons, with the manager promising to use the rest of the campaign to make some big decisions on the way ahead.
‘Revamp is a better word than rebuild,’ he said. ‘It’s also important we recruit and work out one or two futures. But I think we will come back stronger. So I don’t think we should get too carried away.
Kyogo Furuhashi’s brace of close range goals sealed Celtic’s 2-1 victory either side of half time
Morelos reduced the deficit with half an hour left, but it was not enough for Rangers on the day
‘We lost today and it’s the end of the world in terms of today. But tomorrow we wake up and the job is just as big as it was regardless of whether we won this game or not.
‘It’s important we bite down on the gum-shield and take our medicine. It doesn’t taste too nice right now but when I look at the team, with the promise of Malik Tillman and with Raskin and with Cantwell, there is enough for me to be super optimistic about the future.
‘Is it going to be plain sailing? Of course it isn’t. But would everything be rosy if we’d have won this cup final? No, we would still have had that work to do.
‘It’s my job to do that tomorrow and I don’t mind being judged on that.’
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