Rangers’ trip to Hibernian was not, at least for seventy minutes, an encounter that was particularly easy on the eye. Robust and choleric, the game was characterised by Alan McGregor’s grotesque theatrics and a bout of typical mindlessness from Kyle Lafferty before Walter Smith introduced Vladimir Weiss with twenty minutes remaining.
Brought into the game immediately after Kenny Miller had opened the scoring, the ethereal Slovak altered the course of what had been a rather raffish affair with a bewitching display of profound craft and subtlety. Switching flanks with almost spectral ease, Weiss tormented the likes of Danny Galbraith and Michael Hart with elegant and apposite exhibitions of skill.
Just five minutes into this most expressive of débuts Weiss made his decisive intervention. Exchanging passes with Steven Davis before moving fluently into the penalty area, skipping seamlessly past a series of challenges and squaring the ball for Miller to notch his second. It was an effortlessly serene piece of football that seemed almost preposterous in its surrounds, a moment of isolated and beautiful tranquillity in what had been a skittish game up to that point.
The remainder of the match saw Weiss continue to move lithely around the field, continually dictating play, picking intelligent passes and proving himself the most talented player on show by quite some distance. Galbraith’s cynical challenge on the youthful Eastern European following a jinking fifty-yard run was symptomatic of the dearth of ideas Hibernian had when it came to thwarting him. Weiss, slight in stature and yet fully able to protect himself through sheer ability, was nigh on unplayable at times, an uncontainable shadow drifting across the Easter Road turf.
A esoteric and elusive player, Rangers appear to have made an astute transaction in getting Weiss on a season-long loan from Manchester City. The SPL’s credibility may have been haemorrhaging in recent seasons, but players of Weiss’ quality can only serve to improve the standard of domestic football across the border.