Rangers’ entry into the SFL Third Division was exuberantly heralded as the opening of an exciting and thrilling new chapter in the glorious tale of our Club’s history. In the aftermath of a hateful and turbulent summer the loyal supporters rallied behind our fallen institution in what was to be the beginning of the quest to restore Rangers Football Club to its former glory. It was utterly remarkable, quite bizarre but beautifully heart-warming to witness the strength and passion of our fans. We boldly set sail into uncharted waters filled with joy and optimism. Somewhere down the line however we appear to have run aground.
The procrastination, incompetence and negligence of the football authorities meant that preparations for this campaign were far from ideal. Rangers started the season with just six players, were denied any sort of pre-season and were hamstrung by the uncertainty that surrounded our league status. Eventually though things began to come together. With season-tickets hastily being sold in record numbers, and in record time, we were able to assemble a squad which pleasantly surprised the fans and which was set to begin its ruthless assault on the lower leagues of Scottish football with considerable style.
While I’m sure the vast majority of supporters would rather be challenging for the SPL title and competing against the top talents from the continent in the Champions League, there was a realisation that we had been inadvertently presented with a uniquely glorious opportunity to rebuild, rebrand and revamp the Club in a less demanding, less cut-throat environment. It was a chance to improve our scouting, our youth development and our training methods. It was a chance to bravely move our club forward, to produce a football philosophy and ethos that would lay the foundation for decades ahead. Unfortunately though it is one which we are letting slip through our fingers and I’m not even sure some people at Rangers realise it.
The latest calamitous performance and result came yesterday afternoon against Stirling Albion. Once again the team left the field of play to a chorus of boos, something which has been overly regular this season, and to a display of disillusionment from the supporters in the stands. The Union Bears, normally the most positive influence within the stadium, even felt the need to voice their concerns at the current state of affairs with a banner which read: “Less time tweeting, more time training," and who can blame them?
The display should not be interpreted as literally as it reads. The supporters aren’t really concerned about players taking a few seconds to send a tweet, although the content could sometimes do with more consideration, but more the lack of fitness, hunger and desire which has been evident recently. There is nothing to suggest that we have taken a step forward this season or that we have are making progress and are moving in the right direction. In fact I’d go as far as to suggest that, if anything, we have went backwards.
Let’s add some perspective to our current situation. Rangers currently operate with the second-highest wage budget in the country, train at the best facilities and play in front of the largest crowds. We have highly paid, experienced full-time players competing in a part-time league. There can be no excuses for some of our performances and results this season. There can be no justification for our lack of fitness or even basic organisation. We have woefully underperformed. It’s about time some people accepted that and stopped hiding behind the “but we’re going to win the title” argument.
The manager has quite rightly come in for considerable criticism for a number of reasons. We’ve had to endure the constant deployment of a formation which quite simply isn’t working. We’ve watched as our best striker is shunted onto the wings and we’ve had the misfortune of continually witnessing perennial underperformers retain their place in the team for no apparent reason. Unfortunately however such criticism seems to be met with deflection, denial and complete disinterest.
Following the humiliating defeat at the hands of Annan Athletic a couple of weeks ago we were reminded of our lack of pre-season (this is March by the way) and told that we had a young, inexperienced team (we didn’t). This week Ally McCoist has told us that everything we do at training is excellent, that the players work “exceptionally hard” and that everything will be fine because we will eventually “get over the line.” The excuses are becoming as tiresome and depressing as the performances and they show a complete lack of respect for the same fans who pay their disproportionately high salaries.
It saddens me that our standards have fallen so dramatically that our management and some supporters are willing to accept the constant dross that we’ve witnessed this season as long as we win the league. Some people need to open their eyes and look at the damage that is being done as a result.
At the start of the season the stadium was bouncing, the fans were happy and the matches were played in a cacophony of noise created by the supporters. Compare and contrast that with our last couple of games. The number of blue seats is visibly growing with each passing match, as is the displeasure and boredom of those in attendance. Yesterday the vast majority of the crowd, our lowest at a league match this season, simply could not be bothered. They were there in body but their minds wanted to be anywhere else. And with season ticket renewals due to be issued in the not too distant future, that has to be a major concern for Charles Green and the rest of the Rangers boardroom.
It is abundantly clear that something has to change at Rangers Football Club. The fans are losing interest and the team is going nowhere. The supporters are without doubt the most vital component in the rebuilding project that is currently underway and it would be foolish and negligent to ignore our concerns. Many have already decided to vote with their feet and that trend is something which can’t be allowed to continue.
As much as it saddens me to say it, I’ve yet to see anything which suggests to me that Alistair Murdoch McCoist MBE is the right man to take our club forward. He may be a club legend, he may have been one of our greatest ever strikers but, for me, he isn’t a football manager.
Judging by previous comments from Charles Green however it would appear that Super Ally will at least get next season to prove me and his growing number of doubters wrong. And do you know what – I hope he rams my words right down my throat and makes me look foolish for ever questioning his ability. I’d love nothing more than having to say sorry for getting it completely and utterly wrong.
But please, Ally, stop hiding behind pathetic excuses and insulting the intelligence of the supporters who are paying to watch the rubbish put in front of them. It's not doing you any favours.