"To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him." - William Struth  

Locked On The Horns Of A Dilemma

Written by: The Ref
Monday, 6th January 2014

I was unable to attend the match versus Airdrie the other night. Instead, I opted to sit with my six-year-old son and pay our tributes to the 66 who lost their lives at Ibrox 43 years ago to the day in front of the TV.

After the minutes silence in remembrance of those who left home to follow our club, and never returned home, I explained to my son why Bilel Moshni appeared to be uttering words with his hands open and raised to the sky. I explained that Moshni was a Muslim and that he was offering a silent prayer to those who lost their lives. Happy with my explanation, we sat and watched the match. To say it was another woeful performance from McCoist’s team is an understatement. The midfield were often by-passed by a long punt up the park, there were misplaced passes, and many of our players looked as mobile as an IKEA wardrobe. There was poor ball control, a lack of spatial awareness, an inability to find a team mate in space, it was clear that many of the players are suffering through being played out of position and there is quite obviously no leadership from the side-lines. Decent players seem to have become bad players under McCoist, and against the team at the bottom of the league, the performance was disgraceful.

I must add that the referee was completely inept and should never officiate at a match at that level until he learns the laws of the game and applies them correctly. I expect that the assessor will have spoken to the referee after the match and explained to him that pushing players into the advertising hoardings is a caution, kicking a player after the ball has gone is a caution, elbowing a player is a sending off offence, and the numerous other offences which he left unpunished were all completely unacceptable for a match official officiating at that level. I watched the match again later as an FA level 3 assessor and marked the referee at 42%. I expect the clique which exists within the refereeing community of the Scottish Referees Association will see them close ranks and try to explain his performance by saying we should remember that the football in league 1 is tough.

What a load of tosh, and it highlights exactly why Scottish football is locked in what is the football equivalent of the Dark Ages! The Laws Of The Game are the same, regardless of whether you are refereeing a Sunday League match on AstroTurf in the middle of a City, or a World Cup Final, on grass in the Olympic Stadium in Munich.

Anyway, I digress.

At one point, my son turned and said, `this isn’t very good is it Dad?’ I replied that it wasn’t and that I was embarrassed to see a Rangers team play so poorly and seemingly without a clue against a team made up of players who only train part-time and have to work through the day before going to play football. My son asked why Rangers didn’t pass the ball, move into space and pass again. He asked why he is taught to control the ball, pass and then move, when professionals just kick the ball in the air and wait on the big men heading it. I simply told him that our manager hasn’t a clue how football should be played in the modern era.

And there lies the problem. Like Phaedrus, many Rangers supporters now find themselves locked on the horns of a dilemma.

We have a manager who was a legend as a player. A man who scored many important goals for our club and country, and a man who famously stated that, 'this is my club, the same as it is for thousands and thousands of Rangers supporters, and we don’t do walking away.'

Like many, I was inspired by those words, and that rallying call saw tens of thousands of Rangers supporters buy season tickets and merchandise when our club so desperately needed the funds. The problem is; Ally isn’t a very good manager.

I can just imagine the ‘Super Ally’ brigade screwing their faces up at that last sentence and rushing to find ways to counter my claims. I expect they will say that he can only beat the teams put in front of him and that we haven’t lost a league match all season. They will say that he has had his hands tied behind his back due to the illegal transfer embargo imposed by the SPL/SFA last season, the boardroom unrest, and being restricted to signing free transfers.

I’m afraid that just doesn’t excuse our performances since McCoist became manager of our club.

Early exits from European competition and domestic cups, and letting a huge lead in the league slip to a less than impressive Celtic were met with cries that he needed time and that McCoist was suffering as a result of Craig Whyte’s mismanagement of our club. Like many I had doubts about McCoist’s ability as a football manager, but gave him the benefit of the doubt. Sadly my doubts regarding his ability as a manager have been accurate.

His salary dwarves his ability as a manager and I have had to sit and watch as an opportunity to change our team into a young, dynamic team full of pace, ability and vision has been missed. Instead I have witnessed journeymen pro’s come in and earn extravagant salaries while adding little to the quality of the product on display every week. We are expected to cheer as our team, made up of professionals on high salaries defeat teams made up of part-timers, by hanging on to one goal leads in matches. McCoist will argue that he has only been able to sign free transfers, but is that not the same for almost every club in Scotland including the SPFL? We have the second highest wage bill in the country while playing against teams, some of those whose entire annual wage bill is a fraction of what McCoist himself earns per month.

That in itself is scandalous.

Another scandal is the lack of a scouting team at our club. My son trains with Rowan Alexander (formerly Morton) and regardless of anyone’s opinion on him personally, it is clear that he has the right approach when it comes to training the next generations of football players in the UK. He has been approached by Celtic and others with a view to providing them with the next generation of football players. He will freely admit that he has heard nothing from Rangers, and indeed, he will tell you that the Rangers scouting system has been nothing less than pathetic for years. I watched as he split a 5-a-side pitch into 3 sections and then split 24 kids into three groups and had them passing the ball around those zones in a 4v4 format up and down for almost an hour. It was brilliant to watch as kids as young as six kept the ball and passed it around in confined spaces without panicking or resorting to booting it away.

If six-year-olds can do it, why can’t the professionals employed by our club on high salaries do it?

As I said, good players don’t become bad overnight, and the only thing I can think of is that the management in place at our club is either weak, lacking ability, or both. In Lee Wallace we have the best full back in Scotland. He is our best player without any shadow of a doubt, but I do wonder how long he will stay while his career is stifled by the lack of a manager with the ability to take our club to the next level.

The dilemma we face as supporters is similar to that faced by our CEO Graham Wallace. Prior to the AGM, our board was under constant attack from factions within the support. The RST, the RSA, The Sons of Struth, The Assembly, and Paul Murrays group were all demanding an end to the perceived drain on our clubs finances by what were perceived to be greedy board members with no deep rooted association to our club. The attacks were personal, and the losses posted at our clubs AGM were blamed solely on the board. McCoist seemed to be immune from blame, and yet when you examine his role in the position we currently find ourselves in, you have to question whether those who were attacking the board were perhaps blinded by propaganda and hatred and failed to see where the real problems lay.

A manager on a salary of over £800,000 p.a. in the third tier of Scottish football is unsustainable, and don’t let the ‘Super Ally’ brigade tell you he offered to take a pay cut: he offered to have a pay deferral which is something entirely different. A wage bill second only to Celtic in Scotland is unsustainable. Signing free transfers on high wages with little or no prospect of any re-sale value is unsustainable. Loaning out talented young players to teams in leagues higher than ours while we put out a product in our league which is, quite frankly shambolic is ridiculous.

Now Mr Wallace is in position and he is keen to run the club in a manner which will balance the books and put an end to the seemingly endless drain of resources on the footballing side. Mr Wallace’s credentials are excellent and I firmly believe he can lead us through these fiscally demanding times. Cuts will need to be made in the playing budget and he cannot let sentiment blind him to the most important matter facing our club at this time; it’s very future. We have to balance our books and bring additional finances into our club. No investor will put money into our club while it adopts a strategy of paying extravagant wages to players who are at best limited in ability, and with no re-sale value. That is where we find ourselves at this time, and that is where our CEO Graham Wallace also finds himself at this time.

Those who back McCoist will see any reduction in the playing budget, and any sales of players as nothing more than the acts of Spivs, determined to bleed even more from our club. Those who can think freely and without prejudice will see it as an essential requirement in building a sound financial base to stabilise our club and take it forward. If those who attacked the board for bleeding the club dry protest when our CEO attempts to bring that much needed financial stability to our club, then they are guilty of hypocrisy of the very highest level.


by Nineteen Seventy-Two
by General Schomberg


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