20 November 2012

Time to Forgive and Forget?

by Robbie Devine | CRO Contributor
They were labeled as traitors who turned their backs on the club who had been so kind to their careers and of whom many claimed to be life-long supporters at a time when their loyalty was required more than ever.
For Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith, Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Allan McGregor, Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe the decision to seek pastures new last summer left a sour taste in the mouths of many supporters whose admiration for such players quickly changed to disdain.

Solid arguments can certainly be made on both sides though as the players had their futures to consider and did not want to waste some of the best years of their careers plying their trade taking on the likes of Elgin and East Stirlingshire in the lower divisions of Scottish football.

But the opinion of a large bulk of the support was that they had let the club down by making hasty exits to earn a fast buck instead of sticking around and helping Charles Green and Co land a much needed boost to the coffers in the form of transfer fees.

It is a real shame that the reputations of these guys will no doubt be forever tarnished in the eyes of the fans as each of them made a real contribution in the team’s successes in recent years.

The memories of Whittaker’s lung bursting run and finish in Lisbon, Naismith’s howitzer against Celtic last August, Davis’ Old Firm winner, Lafferty’s title winning hat-trick at Rugby Park, McGregor’s glorious penalty save from the inglorious Greek, Ness’s superb third minute strike against Celtic and McCabe’s man of the match performance in the famous 3-2 win over our friends from across the city last March will live long in the minds of the Rangers faithful but it is up for debate as to whether the fans will ever welcome these guys back at Ibrox.

The anger and frustration which erupted following their departures has surely subsided and perhaps now it may be a good time for bears to reevaluate their opinions of them. It may also be worthwhile taking time to judge just how successful they have been since packing up their bags at Auchenhowie and heading south, or in McGregor’s case off to Turkey.

Whittaker has now established himself as a regular in the Norwich team after overcoming his injury problems and indeed played a big part in the weekend win over Manchester United. Naismith has become a
favourite with the Everton faithful, scoring the equiliser in the Merseyside derby and netting again last Saturday at Wigan, whilst Davis has featured for Southampton on several occasions as they battle to maintain their Premier League status.

Lafferty has netted three times for Sion while McGregor has now became the first choice keeper at Besiktas. McCabe has made twelve appearances for Sheffield Wednesday whereas injury has predictably hampered the contribution of Jamie Ness at Stoke City.
It is far too early to judge if any of these guys will enjoy productive careers with their new clubs but history tells us that very few players ever leave Ibrox and go on to experience greater success or enjoyment.

Gattuso and Arteta are rare examples of those that have went on to bigger and better things and it would surely be churlish for any real Gers fan to feel so aggrieved at the exits of Whittaker and Co as not to wish them the best of luck with their future endeavors.

Who knows, perhaps one day the thought of them pulling on the famous light blue shirt again will not be something considered unimaginable and unwelcome?

Robbie is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be reached via email at: rdevine@thecoplandroad.org