11 March 2014

Ally has to go...and give the players a good kick

by Scott Ferguson | Guest Contributor

Well that wasn’t fun was it?

Sunday's Scottish Cup game at Ibrox was truly dreadful for the battered and bruised Rangers fans. Just a short time ago and with the victory in the quarter finals of the same competition the ‘feel good factor’ had returned to Ibrox for the first time in many a month. 

Sunday should have been another chance for the Rangers faithful to go home with a smile on their faces. Of course, that didn’t happen...instead it was a catalyst again for another social media explosion of calls for sacking the manager.

Anyone that has ever read my scribbles would realise that even in the worst of times I am somewhat of an optimist, but even I am struggling to see the glass half full today. It simply wasn’t good enough.

However, I still do not believe it’s time for Ally to leave. I’m not going to change anyone's minds here as straight after reading that sentence you either would have simply nodded your head or venomously spat at whatever device you are using to view this on.

I think like us he must be watching on as his players forget how to do basic things like make three yard passes or to simply remember that the ball goes between the two sticks with complete disgust. Fact is Ally should have been able to send that team out on Sunday; the same starting eleven, the same tactics, the same team talk...and been able to tell them only to use one of their legs and keep one eye closed at all times and still won the game.

It amazes me how readily the home support will bypass the players in their criticism and go straight for the manager’s jugular. Perhaps ironically, this ever so predictable trend I believe is Ally's fault. Ally it seems is incapable of criticising his players publicly, he will defend them and at times make excuses for them - as a result he places himself in front of them shielding them from angry bears and consequently places himself in the spotlight for all the incoming foaming.

Some may say this is in fact a good manager trait and that a manager should always protect his players and I agree to an extent – but there comes a time when the players should be put up front and centre and be held accountable for their inactions.

The player’s inability to raise their game would not be fixed by some rousing team talk - their inability at times to make simple passes or finish chances would not be rectified by a tweak of a formation.

A new manager would not be able to remind these players how to kick a ball properly. Too many of our players are being dragged down to the level they are playing at instead of rising above the competition.

I hate to say it but perhaps all those soothsayers were right? They said players like Lee Wallace; Ian Black etc shouldn’t be picked for international duty whilst playing in these lower leagues. They said that the level of competition would affect their abilities to play against higher level competition.

Right now I tend to agree. The players look mentally fatigued – all suffering from some form of footballing writer’s block. A result of the fact that most weeks these players can win a game simply by showing up.

Is it surprising that regardless of the nature of the game that this team didn’t manage to ‘raise their game’ against a team that was actually worse than the teams that we have been defeating week in week out without breaking sweat?

These players need to be playing quality opposition week in week out before the axe can fall. In the event we win the replay and trudge onto the semi finals Dundee United await us. By then the league will have been won with months to spare. This will be a real test for these players – but not a definitive one.

Next season will see an increase in competition and hopefully with it a renewed hunger but only when we arrive back to the SPFL will Ally's test begin – but then you wonder what then will the expectation level will be?

What will be the expectation level of a manger who has had his cheaply built squad ripped apart and left with a group of kids and a couple of faithful pros? A manager who has had to rebuild that team via free transfers - whilst in the background the owners, chairman and CEO’s play musical chairs. A manager that has had to drag his players around Scotland to play against teams of plumbers, joiners bakers and firemen - for three long years.

Champions League minimum...probably.