JOINT Caretaker Manager Jimmy Nicholl has seen many things in football, but few will match this afternoon’s incredible 5-5 draw between Rangers and Hibs at Easter Road.
After going 3-0 down inside 20 minutes, Gers fought back to make it 5-3 before Hibs grabbed two late goals to make it 5-5.
A win for Nicholl’s men, coupled with a win for Celtic over Aberdeen would have seen the Gers finish second, but the Dons defeated Brendan Rodgers’ men 1-0 at Parkhead, meaning it’s a third place finish once again for the Light Blues.
Speaking after the game, Nicholl told RangersTV: “Before the game, we were determined to put in a performance to get the result, and it was like that in the dressing room beforehand.
“I would never have thought we would have been 3-0 down after 20 minutes – not the way they were before the game. But, that’s what happened.
“We were in the situation where we had to bring off Sean Goss as we just weren’t defending properly. There were goals flying in everywhere and it was a bit harsh on him.
“But, you keep saying in football to never underestimate the importance of a goal. Had it gone 4-0, it would probably have been curtains for us. But for Tav to score and make it 3-1, and then to go 3-2, we got a bit of belief back.
“Even at 3-1, we got a bit of belief back in the game and got in 3-3 at half-time. To then go 5-3 up away from home, you think ‘that’s it, it’s got to be in the bag.
“All we have to do is shore it up. But then they scored to make it 5-4 straight after, and that was a sore one.
“Then we had the sending-off, which didn’t help us. It was just one of those strange afternoons. I can criticise them for conceding goals the way they did, but I can’t criticise them for the way they came back into the game. It was a great effort.
“Overall, we’re shattered by the disappointment of not getting second place.”
Asked if the result at Parkhead made the Gers not winning the game easier to take, Nicholl replied: “Possibly, but when you are 5-3 up, I’d still rather have won the game. The supporters will be wondering, and the players will be wondering as well, what was it at certain times we didn’t do to help us win more games of football?
“So that’s what we’ve got to take on board – what was missing from those games – and once they take stock of that and see what is required for next year, they will be up and running and they will be alright.”
Nicholl’s time in caretaker charge is now at an end, with Steven Gerrard taking over the managerial hotseat from June 1.
It’s been an up and down spell for Nicholl since arriving initially as assistant manager in January, and he added: “You don’t like it the way it is with Graeme [Murty] losing his job. He was kind enough to bring me in, and you just do the best you can.
“It’s three games undefeated – an eventful three games – and I have enjoyed working with them. But for the five or six months I have been here, you look and know there is definitely improvement in them.
“You try to improve them and get them to do what you think is right, and the new manager will come in and he’ll look at that, and what they will do this time, they’ll do it.
“It was good while it lasted, and I’ll just see what my next step is in football.”
Nicholl also paid tribute to the club’s supporters, adding: “Never underestimate them or take it for granted either. 35 years ago I was playing in front of 12,000 of them, and now, there is 50,000 there all the time and they are behind the lads until they don’t produce, and if they don’t produce, they are right to get on to you.
“It’s the ones who can handle it and the ones who can’t. That is a massive thing as well, needing character in this place, but the supporters have kept coming and they will be looking to the future with the new manager, new players and existing players.