Every Rangers fan right now will feel a mixture of anger, frustration and embarrassment. Those emotions are more than justified in our current situation. We often try to highlight the positives, to fight against the negativity shown in the Scottish media and elsewhere towards Rangers. That comes with an accusation from some of being too “close” to the club or such like. Such things are a side effect of that aim.
But there is no way anything positive can be taken from the way things went in the semi final. Every fan knows the challenge Rangers face. We also recognise that the board has done well in certain areas. On the field, though, they are letting us down. We are selling out almost every home game in a season where we’ve got the worst home record of the top 6 teams of the league. The fans who travel to away matches in huge numbers are unwavering. We’ve backed the squad through managerial changes, poor performances and some pretty horrible results. Losing a game of football is understandable from time to time. When you have the second biggest budget in the league, by quite some distance, you have a right to expect a bit more than we’ve seen. Not meeting that expectation hasn’t changed just how much we back our club.
And right now, it feels like that backing is being taken for granted. In the season ticket renewal statement, Dave King used lines like “repay the fans” or “give the fans the club and team they deserve”. It’s emotive language, and that appeals to football fans. It also raises expectations.
We know Celtic have a better team than us right now, as much as we hate to admit it. They should have, given current situations. What we saw yesterday was a culmination of poor decisions and leadership, from anyone involved in first team affairs. Managers have been let down, players have been let down, and the fans are certainly feeling all of that. The board couldn’t have imagined things would go so poorly at the start of the season, but the reaction simply hasn’t been good enough.
The best way to sum up what’s going on? Rangers fans could imagine the result and performance from yesterday happening before the game. It wasn’t a freak result, or a poor day at the office, it was something that was a real possibility and it came to pass. The players have plenty of responsibility, but it’s also true that a team often reflects what’s going on off the pitch, and that was certainly the case.
When Rangers won the Scottish Cup semi-final of 2016, there was a big reaction from Celtic. It’s telling that only 2 players from their starting 11 yesterday were signed by their current manager. They didn’t need to rip everything up and start again, they just showed real ambition with their choice of manager and it made a huge difference. Again, we don’t like to say it, but we may have to look at that example and follow suit. We need a manager who can demand instant respect. They need to be able to improve what we have, and be someone new signings are desperate to play for. Some of the names we’ve seen rumoured as targets are not going to be close to being able to do that.
So yes, this blog will continue to back the club and highlight the positives when we can. We will also be critical when we feel it’s fair, and that is more than justifiable right now. The Rangers fans have kept their end of the bargain and then some – the club now has to do what they claim they’re aiming for, and find a way to repay that.
Alex Staff – @strider80
Stevie Clifford – @stevietrueblue