31 July 2013

What would make a good season?

by Garry Carmody | Contributor

There’s nothing quite like a convincing opening day of the season to get the juices flowing.

Add to that an enjoyable and confidence-boosting pre-season and minds start to wander for Rangers fans. With a league title win seen as inevitable, the Bears start to ponder what else can be achieved. Should the Ramsden’s Cup victory be a certainty? Should a League Cup or even a Scottish Cup extended run be beyond us? And does the possibility of winning one of them exist?

That debate will go on, and with Rangers fans – regardless of the club’s level – the hunger to win as much as possible will always be engrained in the minds of the fans. With almost a century and a half littered with domination in Scottish football, winning is second nature to Rangers as a club. No club reaches a world record level of title victories without having the art of victory down to a tee. 

On top of that, with a wage budget comfortably the second best in the country, and a set of facilities second to none, it really isn’t all that absurd for Rangers fans to expect a good cup run. They pay enough for it as well. The Light Blues’ regular opposition for the coming season will fall short of the quality standing in the way of a cup victory, but one would imagine a set of players such as Rangers possess would be hoping to achieve more than a “League One” title victory.

However, the cup competitions could quite literally come down to the luck of the draw. Last season, Rangers showed a vast difference in quality in cup games – compare the Motherwell fixture to the Dundee United one and you could be forgiven for thinking it was two different teams playing them. There is also the chance that Rangers could be drawn against Celtic, which many Bears realise is unlikely to end in success for the Ibrox men at this present moment.

To put the hope for the cup competitions aside for just now, my aspirations for 2013-2014 fall into two categories. The first is based on the development of the younger part of the squad. Last season gave many young players the chance to compete in the first-team squad – the stand-out being Lewis MacLeod, who looked as if he had been a part of the Rangers midfield for years. A few others also impressed; mainly in the shape of Fraser Aird and Barrie McKay with Chris Hegarty, Luca Gasparotto and Robbie Crawford showing that they may have a bright future ahead of them. 

Over the summer, Ally McCoist may have built up a strong and competitive squad, but if these players and more can continue to force their way into the management team's plans, they could be in a strong position by the time Rangers return to the top flight. Beyond that, the ‘Gers know that part of the long term stability of the club lies in being able to sell players on for a profit – in this modern state of affairs, the money men will most certainly have their eye on that as these players continue to develop.

The second point, and certainly the more important one, is starting to instil some pride back into this old Scottish institution. Earlier in this article, I mentioned how winning is part of the genetics of Rangers Football Club, but at the same time, the loyal support have been well adjusted to a club with high standards of professionalism. In many regards that has been ripped from the soul of Rangers over the past two years. 

Financial devastation, criminal investigations and public mud-slinging battles have left many fans heartbroken at the treatment of their club – and that is just at the hands of those who have claimed to be working in the best interests of the club. At the moment, there would appear to be a level of stability across the playing field at Ibrox, but we have seen recently how quickly that can change. How the fans of Rangers long for their faith to be repaid in stability and support of their club by those in charge, and how sorely they’ve been let down in recent times. As this season begins, it would appear there may well be a chance for that to happen, and for now, the support can only hope that can be maintained.

A season without off-field dramas would mean as much to many fans as the on-field title that is expected. The success and the glory will have their day to come again – but for now it is time to get this the roots of the club back on track.