"Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us.
We will never hide from it. Never fear."
- William Struth

All I Want For Christmas Is... My Rangers Back

Written by: Thiepvalwood
Saturday, 13th December 2014

As Mariah Carey (almost) once sang, “All I want for Christmas is...my Rangers back”.

Well, she didn’t really, but I tell you now, that’s all most of us have been singing every year since it became apparent approximately half way through David Murray’s reign, that our club was going nowhere, sure we had a rather exciting 2008 – that night in Florence was the 2nd best day of my life, only superseded by a certain evening in May 1999.

During this time though, all around us, the infrastructure of the club (Stadium, facilities, assets, shops) was being taken apart. Our club was being left to rot, our standards both on field and off field were slipping.

Then we came to 2012 which took our “difficulties” to a whole new level.

I wish to look at what I believe are the key Football and Fan factors that are holding our club back. Only items within our control are considered, even then only some but I hope that the points resonate with you, my fellow Bluenoses, some may not, but I implore you to consider them with an open mind as they are offered with the best of intentions, if they do hit home with you then do not be afraid to shout about them, its only by regaining our voice can we be listened to. Our match day experience is truly woeful, I have been to many sporting occasions all over the world – American Football, Baseball, Ice Hockey and Aussie Rules...what we go through on a match day is an endurance event compared to these occasions – we have lost our way somewhat, maybe if our club and ourselves look at the following points then it will go some way to freeing us up to then focus on that match day experience, bringing yet more fans through the turnstiles...that is for another day though.

Footballing Philosophy and On Field Performance

Forget boycotts due to board inadequacies. The single biggest factor that has kept Bears away from Ibrox this past season is the football management and the imposed footballing philosophy emanating from the manager. Ten thousand Season Ticket holders stayed away from Ibrox at the recent 1-0 scraped win over the mighty Cowdenbeath. We know this because the attendance was given as circa 29k (number of tickets sold) while the actual attendance was in the region of Nineteen thousand. This writer was there...with his child. Incidentally, if you think going to games with your mates while having a few beers is tough, then try it with a kid whom you are trying to install the Rangers bug in to. When you know before the game that on the 70th minute that Daly will be brought on for Boyd and that any football that takes place will be in the air then trying to have it hold the attention of a 5 year old is nigh on impossible.

It has been heard coming from Auchenhowie that the belief in the dugout is that to compete with the teams we are currently playing against then we need to go back-to-front. That is certainly evident in how we have been playing the last 3 years but I mean seriously? I would have thought that a team based on skill and speed would be far better and most definitely more beneficial for long term sustained success. However don’t take it from me, take it from the immortal Mr. Bill Struth who said “Our very success, gained you will agree by skill, will draw more people than ever to see it”.

Let that quote sit with you for a moment...

If you allow me to paraphrase Mr Struth, he said if we are set up to play in a skilful way then we will attract bigger and bigger crowds, all creating success for the team.

Inversely it could then be said that if we play route-one, long ball football and fill the team with older, tired players then less and less people will go watch and we will win nothing (of note).

Read the above two sentences and tell me what is happening before our eyes, further still, tell me what is acceptable to you? This has been proven in the last 3-4 years with our inability to do anything in the cups despite having the second largest playing squad wage bill in the country.

For me and I would think for most of the Bears I know, the most exciting part about being immorally bumped down to the lowest tier of Scottish Football was that it was a chance to reinvent ourselves (footballing wise) without the pressure of running in a two horse race where 2nd is a sackable offence. We were told for years that as long as we beat Them to the title, in whatever way possible then all was good – and to be honest I mostly agreed with that. In 2012 we were given the opportunity to pit a multi-million pound team up against part time opposition. Much like how Scottish Football had handed Them 3 Premier League titles on a plate, we knew, they knew, everyone knew that the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Divisions titles were also handed to us. Now it was just up to us to decide how we would win them.

Us, the fans, thought we would go back to our roots, back to when we were magnificently referred to as the “light and speedy blues”, back to when the team had flair, creativity with directness, lots of pace and an abundance of youth on a conveyor belt. A passing team with directness coming with that bit of steel through the spine of the team.

This is what was sold to us by the club at the start of “the journey” as they called it.

What we got and what we now have is somewhat very different and as I said previously is the reason for the dwindling crowds and lack of enthusiasm from the support.

What we got was lazy, long ball football. Players out of position and like for like subs on the 68th, 70th and 84th minute. A team based on signing has-beens, never will be’s and pension top-ups. We might not have won every game but we knew we would win these leagues and surely that it isn’t just me who would rather had seen a team of our own grow in front of our eyes than be able to say – we scrapped an unbeaten record against part timers while gathering together a team with an average age of nearer 30 than 20 and who are mostly all out of contract in 2015.

Would we not have won the 2nd Division title if McCausland had been given a chance and we not have signed Foster, would we not have won the 3rd Division title had Gasparotto been given a chance and we not signed Cribari.

Let me just list some of the names signed by Mr McCoist and whom we have wasted wages on and I will let the reader judge if we would have been better playing and investing in our own youth player from the swifts? You may also decide if Mr McCoist has been supported by those above him during his tenure: Cribari, Foster, Smith, Simonsen, Simonsen again, Peralta, Arygiou, Mohsni, Miller, Boyd, Ortiz, Robinson, Kyle, Sandaza, Daly, Faure, to name a few.

I hate having to be so negative on our players – I was brought up by my parents to hold our players in the utmost regard. To ensure if I was ever in their company then their hands didn’t go in their pockets. To call them Mr... etc etc But in truth, how can I? At no time over the last 36 years of watching Rangers have I known so many players to shout abuse back to the Bears on the terraces – Black, Foster, Law, Black again, Foster again. What does that tell us about the professionalism at Ibrox? The standards being demanded from the management team obviously are not to the standard we expect. Maybe those same standards that led to players fighting in Kebab shops are prevailing once again.

I hear of parents of our youth players talk about not having their kids back at Rangers in the New Year because they are disillusioned with the lack of development, I have heard first-hand accounts from bears who follow the youths and swifts religiously about how any semblance of footballing skill is ignored while Big and Strong is the order of the day – that seems to be the Jim Sinclair method. Is it any wonder that throughout the development stream that we lose very good potential from the club and in lots of cases from the game.

Let’s talk solutions. We need – as a matter of greatest priority a root and branch clear out of our whole footballing organisation.

Firstly, the manager. Yes Mr McCoist, thank you for holding the club together in 2012, I have heard of the many things you did during that time and I thank you. I witnessed almost every goal you scored for the club, again I thank you. It was your picture on my granny’s mantelpiece and not mine so you as the player and for off the field actions during 2012 will never be forgotten. But, as a manager, it has been a disaster for you. For the reasons I note above... very poor signings, lack of long term squad building, poor tactics, inability to change a game, poor poor product on the pitch, players out of position, lack of player development, blinkered view on your favourites despite how bad they are playing, regression of signed players, many results have been more than atrocious – Alloa x 3, Raith Rovers – Cup Final, All Cups Entered, Forfar, QOTS, Annan, Stirling Albion x 2.

The Board must act, and they must realise that the media will not be clambering for the removal of Mr McCoist as manager, for two reasons. For the Rangers orientated media hacks and pundits out there are almost to a man are pally with Mr McCoist so will not be seen or heard in the public domain asking for his removal, secondly, the Media hacks and pundits affiliated to Them do not want Mr McCoist replaced as they see the damage that is being done. You must admit, I can’t be far wrong with that summary.

Mr McCoist, you have been paid very handsomely... circa £800k/yr – some believe that your pay cut was more a pay deferral, coupled with the near 4% of the clubs shares you got for a knockdown price will keep the wolves from your door. I ask you now, beg you even. Please resign, taking no more money out of the club. Stipulate even that you will resign only if any severance monies due to you are ring-fenced for youth development, and let that be known publicly. Mr McCoist, that would be the right thing to do... going on as manager is not.

Secondly, the footballing structure. As said, if you listen to those who take an interest in our youth set up you will know that this is a shambles. Our club requires a complete clear out and to start again – Starting with Jim Sinclair and ending with every coach who is not suitably experienced and qualified to implement a football philosophy of skill, pace and excitement and who do not have Rangers best interests at heart. In would come our must important appointment... a Director of Football to manage, shape and grow the complete football philosophy of the club, from under 9’s to the 1st team.

All playing and training the same way to aid the movement of players up and down squads as the need arises. With all head coaches/managers of each side reporting to him. Why you ask? Well a manager lives and dies by results (well he should do) and any decision that a manager makes will only be short term (proven this last 3 years) whereas a DoF will have both medium term (2-3 years) and Long Term (4 – 7 years) to plan for. Out will immediately go this continuous short term thinking we have had for the last 20 or so years. We need change, we need to be bold, let’s be bold and invigorate the way we play football. Starting this 3 years ago would have been ideal, but it’s not too late. The board could be seen to be doing what’s right by implementing the above – prove me and the rest of those who doubt you wrong by doing something because it’s clear that Nineteen Thousand fans every second week at Ibrox is unsustainable. – Change the management and the structure and the Bears will come back. It will more than pay for itself.

Scouting, does this exist – Not as far as I am concerned! If it does then it’s not evident to me. We can’t even target players that have come up against us in these lower divisions and who have exhibited future potential, never mind find players from further afield. In my youth I knew of several teams dotted all throughout Scotland with whom our club had arrangements with and would go see good prospects. Does this happen now... not what I hear. I suppose though when we sign a 30+ year old Brazilian centre half who speaks no English to come play in the 3rd Division then why do we need to target home grown!

Not to mention the global scouting need, sure I have read about our tie in’s with some North American set ups but do any of us believe that any players will come through this? I don’t. Nothing wrong with marrying up our home grown talent with several signings from further afield, as long as those signings have a sell on value for the club.

PR & Marketing

I want our PR department to be on the phone and exerting influence over every print and TV news editor in Scotland every morning, I want them to be more Fixer than PR, being proactive in disappearing negative stories while ensuring all positive stories are at the front. We are in a daily war against our enemies (you know who they are) who want us disappeared, until we realise that, wake up and stop looking to cuddle them then we will win no war – propaganda or otherwise. Any PR we do have seems to only act for and on behalf of named directors. This most definitely was the case when David Murray was custodian – it was always said in fans circles during the late 90’s and 2000’s... .abuse the Rangers or its fans and a paper will hear nothing, abuse the Chairman and the paper will come under attack. What has changed now – nothing? The current board would seem to care more about themselves than the Football Club that they happen to now control. They do have the opportunity to prove us wrong but time is of the essence – it must happen now.

Every negative story out there leads to another mother steering her kid away from our team and thus (in terminology that is perhaps only recognised by our directors) another lifetime “customer” is lost. Reverse that decline now. It is open season on the club and us the support and has been for some time.

Fans Groups

I will be straight with every reader from the off here. I have been neither pro nor anti board as I believe none of us have been in possession of all the facts and I refuse to be led by propaganda from Rangers haters like Jackson or be taken in by some who are obviously too close to incumbent board members. I am also a Protestant, Unionist, and Loyalist Rangers fan. Unashamed. Those 4 items define me, define my family, almost all of my match going peers and define the vast majority of our support. Throughout the early 80’s we were poor on the field. But you knew then that every bear beside you had your back. That feeling was still there well into 2000’s. When you walked out Janefield Street heading back to Bridgeton you knew you were in a support that stood as one - untouchable. There was no one group giggling and mocking another, there was no one group deriding another because they wore the Rangers tops. There was no one group wanting to push colours more akin to Northern Italy than South Glasgow. There was no one group spreading names of fellow Bears to our enemy and media friends. We stood as one.

Now we have our fan base so splintered it is laughable. Led by some who want the fame that being on the TV brings you. Well this writer has on occasion been involved in organising big things for the support – but you won’t know my name. This writer has gone out on a limb with the authorities to get our voice heard – but you won’t know my face. Unfortunately the internet has given a voice to those ”fans” who wouldn’t dare mock a Bear coming out of any number of pubs on PRW on match day, who wouldn’t stand in the face of the bears coming off the boats from Ulster on match day and tell them that they are not wanted. Maybe the problem on this occasion is not with that very small minority of new age fans who are famous only in their social media circles and who want to erase our history and culture but more with the thousands of us that give them credence by listening to them and responding to their trash talk of the PUL Rangers community. The PUL Rangers community embraces any and all creeds and mind-sets who want to join in with our love for the Club all it has ever asked is that anyone who does so appreciates and respects the culture and history that surrounds and has made the club.

I dearly wish the support could stand at one. I believe that the vast majority of us, save a few ringleaders with agendas have the same core values and outlook for our club. Maybe we can stand as one again. There is nothing out there in sport more powerful than our united fanbase, unfortunately it’s been years since that was witnessed...but I implore us all to start thinking more about what we have in common, and less about what divides us.

We now have the Rangers Fans Board in play, and while it is early days I cannot say I have been impressed. Mr Easdale (S) says that this will be the medium for measuring the pulse of the support and that’s fine, although a few peers of this writer have been in contact with many of the Fan Board members to raise issues with the playing management to be met with “that’s not in our remit”. I would suggest that somewhere along the way we have forgotten we play football so surely footballing issues should be the top of any agenda – perhaps clarity is needed here on what the RFB can and will raise with the Board. The next trick after that is to ensure the board do not just pay lip service to the RFB – it’s not about pie queues, it about the club and about stopping the rot we find ourselves in, however self-inflicted that rot may be.

Of course there is much more going on at the club than the topics covered above... but isn’t it nice to read something that reminds us that we have a football operation to put right once again? Even if you don’t agree with opinions. Other writers, far more in tune with corporate dealings than me can cover the constant ins and outs we have in our director’s box. Maybe I wrote this for myself... to remind myself that there is a club there that I care about because with every boardroom change and Stock Market announcement made I find myself drifting further away from the Club I love.

And being disloyal isn’t in my nature.

As we sing in my house this time of the year... "All I want for Christmas is... my (and my fathers, and my grandfathers and my great-grandfathers) Rangers back"

Rangers, always.
Mr T. Wood


by WeMustBeBolder
by D'Artganan


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