23 March 2013

This is Rangers

by Blues and Twos | Guest Contributor

"Ally's got one objective this season - that's to get us promoted".

Or so some would have you believe.

Like a great many of us I embarked upon the trip to Brechin, aware that a new day was dawning on the tumultuous Rangers story. Lingering was still a serene bearing of disbelief that this was our distinct, new reality and as the car I was a passenger in edged closer to Glebe Park I witnessed, close at hand, that incalculable amounts of Rangers fans shared my fazed expression. 

The game itself was an aberrant blur. Little put us ahead early on but as the rain thumped down we seemed to decrease in effort, grind too much in possession and ultimately make the simplest of footballing skills look like we were trying to decypher the universe. I kinda put it down to the unconventionality of it all: That despite their positive showings, having Macleod and McKay in was a factor in our fractured performance due to their tenderness. That the occasion was the real match-up and, of course, that we had no true pre-season on which to prepare. 

I couldn't shake a nagging feeling on the drive home. I didn't really want to recognise it so I shoved it away and we all talked about the great many road trips we were gonna encounter in the coming months.

On arrival back at our watering-hole in deepest, darkest South Lanarkshire a few new faces appeared in the company. Talk amongst the regulars seemed to be of the 'journey' ahead and of the rehabilitation of the club. We moved and back and forth between Borussia Dortmund's flirtation with bankruptcy in 2005 and the problems that pushed Feyenoord Rotterdam to the precipice. In between, where those clubs found themselves then and where they were positioned now was a fill of great foresight, forward-thinking, research and application. All pre-requisites for us, we agreed, if this slide to the edge of oblivion was going to really mean something and be the start of a revolution; however defined.

It was then one of the newer faces uttered the opening line of this piece. One of the other newer guys nodded his head meekly, my friend whipped his phone out and started to pretend-text whilst the rest fell silent. I took it on:

"Yeah but surely we've got to implement some kind of vision, a long-term strategy of the likes we've never had before in order for us to come back stronger than ever. Overhaul the scouting and target players earlier".

"Promotion is the only thing that matters, mate. All that can wait. This is Rangers."

“Wait?” I motioned to speak but it was no use. We were strangers to one another and a heated discussion after a long road-trip with an unknown was the last thing either of us desired, I'm sure.

The continued convalescence of the team as we have dodged through the game-by-game minefield in SFL 3 always brings me back to that crowded afternoon. How many of our supporters actually think like that? Am I in the minority and what if he's/they're right? The CEO of any corporation sets the agenda for the business, what the targets are and how they are going to be achieved. It might be pertinent to point out that Charles Green probably thought only about promotion, at the start of the season, because it allows for expansion.

However, his comments the other week detailing his disdain for the style and standard of football on display struck a chord with yours truly. There are three sets of expectations at a football club: There are the expectations of the fans, the manager and the power-brokers. They will conflict more often than not and if success is measured by the disparate groups differently, then managing expectations metamorphosizes into how to maintain harmony in the face of growing discontent on all sides and the use of illusions or buzz-words is redundant.

Green, we know for sure, is no respecter of reputations - this is calculated business for him, no matter how much I'm sure he enjoys being in the limelight at the top of our illustrious club and fans love hearing about how he's fallen in love with the place. What Green is good at is getting people on board so it seems. His PR team work diligently and successfully but have branded him in such a fashion that in order for him to stay relevant he has to be seen and heard constantly and to continue his reputation for the straight-talking.

When Ally talked earlier on in the season of managing expectations I pondered Charles Green in all of this and his expectations. It probably doesn't matter to him if Ally's on-board or not. Remember, Dave King revealed that Green was prepared to let McCoist go because he was, as he saw, on too much money for the lowest division in Scotland. (And please while we're at it - forget any notion of Rangers fans reacting angrily to any letting go of Super. Fans, en masse, will react how the club instructs them to act.)

Not one Rangers fan I know, including myself, enjoys saying the words, "Ally's not the man for the job". So if you think the polar opposite, dispense with the abuse. It dumbs down your argument and what must be said is that those who do angrily spit that McCoist deserves better have one key defining feature - their lack of ability to conducively argue the case for him staying other than saying anyone who isn't loyal to Ally, isn't loyal to Rangers.

However, loyalty, or on this occasion, disloyalty; is in the eye of the accuser. If you use the word loyalty to the point where you fail to invoke critical thinking, then you are going on blind faith and ignoring evidence. The evidence of us working on our weaknesses in training and progressing is not present. Saturday afternoon's dreadful performance against Stirling Albion provided me with new clarity on my feelings regarding Ally's tenure. He has to move on so that we can move on. Move onto how our club prepares for what is still an uncertain future instead of having to constantly reassess the manager's position.

With a quirk of fate I ran into the aforementioned newbie post-match for the first time since the come-down of the Brechin game. There was a cosmic sense of timing that our next meeting would come after witnessing such ineptitude. Anticipating that I would be gunning for him he grinned across the L-shaped bar at me, raised his pint and with a glint in his eye and bellowed, "One objective, mate."

This is Rangers.