20 September 2012

Keep Calm and Follow On

by Peter Ewart | CRO contributor | @Seasider06 |

I thought that Saturday’s result at Annan had brought about of a bit of hysteria regarding our away form in SFL3. But it wasn’t a patch to the overreaction after the piss awful home loss to Queen of the South in the Ramsdens Cup.

To be honest it's difficult to assess the balance of opinion and to cut through the white noise of social media these days, especially in the heated couple of hours after a poor result. But suffice to say there needs to be a dose of reality amongst some of our fans.

Whilst as a set-up we are a top flight club, with top ground, facilities and top flight fans, we are not a top flight team anymore, and expectations have to be adjusted.

That will not be an easy adjustment to make for many fans. Rangers have not been ‘bad’ in my lifetime as a supporter. I have been lucky enough to see the 9 in a row, a supporter raised on regular league titles and silverware.

There is a degree of embarrassment in every bad result. We aren’t used to it and we all desperately want to prove we are still here, still successful, still the same old Rangers, but it is going to take time and there are going to be disappointments along the way. Rangers can lose, Rangers can draw, but it doesn’t matter; it’s in the blood. It is time to stand firm and be counted.

We as fans can be short on patience but long on expectation. It comes with the territory of our great club. But playing-wise, things have changed out of sight at the club over the summer. We have hemorrhaged practically all of our first-team squad, to be replaced with an entirely new squad of players, had no pre-season and a manager whose time was taken up with off-field nonsense.

We are still looking for a best starting eleven through a combination of formation and injury. Yes, those formations and long-ball tactics have been questionable, but this season the football itself really is the little picture stuff.

Two months ago we weren't sure if we were going to have a club to support any longer. That we are playing at all is testament to the fans and those that helped to save the club. It's not that we shouldn't be critical of the performances or the tactics but it is way too early to be coming to any conclusion about this season.

On top of that we are in unfamiliar territory. Everybody at the club is learning what the Scottish Football League is all about. If we look at our club and managerial and playing staff I don't think there is anyone in there that prior to this season had experience of SFL3, and only a few have SFL experience, so it is a culture shock for everybody involved from fans to staff, to players and the manager.

To be clear, away performances have not been good and have come as a bit of a surprise - many fans expecting us to win comfortably against SFL3 opposition. I'll hold my hand up and say I caught myself thinking much the same thing. In most of our minds we’d have the league won in January or February and be playing reserve games for the rest of the season. How’s that for arrogance?!

The prevailing view being that we should be beating sides comfortably as we have players capable of playing at a higher level throughout the squad. We have some reasonable SPL players - Black, Shiels, Wallace, Little, Templeton - but I wouldn’t overplay it. We are also playing young unproven talent and unproven foreign signings still settling in.

It certainly isn’t time for panic stations in the league. We have nine points from five games.We are unbeaten and only one point behind the leaders in the league. And it is fair to say that all away games so far have turned into a bit of a circus off the pitch.

I don't buy into the theory that every team raises their game against us. That’s far too simple an explanation, and this is far more to do about us and our performances than anything the opposition do. It is therefore very much within our gift to get it sorted out.

It is not to say that in time Ally is untouchable. We'll see how things progress and we'll see how his transfers work out. And if there is a man with the ability to take cold hard business decisions and remove himself from the emotion if things aren’t working out, then it's Charles Green.

But my goodness we are a long long way away from even thinking about that yet. We're maybe not where we thought we would be, and the fans feel a bit of embarrassment because of that, but there's more to learn, more settling down to happen, and a long way to go.

Patience is a virtue. The team needs our full support win, lose, or draw.

Keep calm and follow on.