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Posts Tagged ‘Rangers

Rangers FC transfer merry go round – Boyd, Wilson and Quinn

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The dusty saloon doors remain motionless. There’s been no swinging doors from hombres swaggering in or out and we’re eleven days into the winter transfer window.

The Kris Boyd will he/won’t he, debate has rumbled on now for what seems like an age and with him picking up a little boo boo on his groin at the weekend, we might see some of the debate lessened especially in the media.

It’s all a big stooshy over something that supporters, supporters groups and the club can do nothing about. The ball is almost entirely in Kris Boyd’s court. He is the guy who can either accept our contract offer to stay, decide to continue to negotiate with us, negotiate with other clubs for the summer or if a decent level of offer to Rangers comes in (which it will), leave now.

The only thing the club can do is offer the contract that we can afford to him in the hope that he signs or refuse any money for him to leave in this transfer window. There will be a threshold of offer level for him decided by the club already that we will let him go now.

Even then, as with last winter, it is still Kris Boyd’s decision to make.

Of course all the papers will be dribbling over the prospect the new Ronald Koeman coming to Celtic to put the final nail in the coffin of McManus and ex-septic player of the year Caldwell. Both of whom have clearly been found out for the complete jokers that they are – give me Bert Konterman anyday of the week.

Danny Wilson seems to be having to endure the same rumours that John Fleck had to put up with when he broke into the team with the old “Alex Ferguson knows Walter Smith” routine. A story appeared in the People at the weekend with no quotes and intimated that Wilson had been recommended to Ferguson by his scouting son.

I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Manchester United know exactly who Danny Wilson is and what he could be potentially capable of achieving within football, but the liklihood of a bid coming in during this transfer window is ridiculously low. Spurs also seem like potential long-term suitors for the classy youngster yet any move will surely be looked at long term by the Premiership giants. I suppose one of the positive things is that he is being linked with clubs in the top tier in England and not dross like Burnley or Hull who seem to be interested in any player that becomes available for transfer anywhere.

Apparently Rangers are going to be taking American Andrew Quinn on trial at the end of the month. I was chatting to the American journalist that broke the story, Steve Goff, and he said that the player isn’t even on the radar of MLS clubs and he was totally bemused that he was known to Rangers.

Andrew is from the DC area and starred at a prestigious prep school, DeMatha. He then attended Notre Dame, where he shared the starting job for much of his career. Injuries sidelined him for several periods. Notre Dame is among the top college programs in the States and competes in the challenging Big East conference.

He is a big kid — 6 feet 4 inches I believe. Interestingly he grew up close to the pro game because his father Tony is a prominent sports photographer who has worked at the World Cup and other major events. Tony is originally from northeast England.

I don’t know if Andrew is a true prospect for Rangers, given his lack of upper level experience, but perhaps they’ll see something special

His dad (Quinn’s) is English and a sports photographer and the lad has agents in Chicago and one in England so it must be an agent led trial rather than our renowned international scouting network (oxymoron). If anything I’d say that the lad will be over for a while and end up at a lesser Scottish or English club. With his dad being English I’d assume that work permit wouldn’t be that much of a problem.

P.S Cassio Lincoln is not on trial with Rangers.

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Written by therabbitt

January 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

One True Voice – Faithful and True

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I follow my heart right up to the end,
As far as the eye can see
I’m faithful and true and living up to
Your sacred trust in me

Yes, I have just started a football blog by quoting the quintissential bawbag bogus boyband; One True Voice. Something tells me that not many of you will remember let alone care who or what they are. For those that don’t, One True Voice are the group of lads that were put together in the same faux talent programme that created Girls Aloud.

Jesus - what a bunch of fannies.

The talentless and tawdry yang to the irrepressible and insatiable ying of the ten legged popsexual girl group juggernaut, the band are easily forgotten but I’d bet there are a few out there that were humming along in their heads to the quote that I started this article with. The song might have been as bad as listening to a pub full of smacked up Celtic fans in the Gallowgate singing You’ll Never Walk Alone with the only accompanyment being scraped out onto a plate with a fork, but the lyrics are somewhat applicable to Rangers.

Rangers seem to be missing a singular voice of the people; one that is faithful and true to what we all believe in. Essentially, there is not a voice that comes from Ibrox to defend itself, everyone and everything that our great club stands for. The fans don’t have something or someone that we can stand united behind and all have our faith pinned to.

The fissured Rangers support simply doesn’t have a person that will step forward and cast away any dissenters and doubters that come to try and put us down. More often than not, these people are allowed to say whatever they like about our club and support without reply and without reprisal. That is not good enough. An institution like ours should be able to stand on its own two feet and put up more of a defence for itself than the limbless Black Knight in Life of Brian could muster.

Sadly, we need only look across the city to the paupers paradise at Parkhead to hear the persistant warblings of Dr Reid defending the undefendable. For all the mans obvious failings in this world; we cannot say that he hasn’t tried to add some shimmer and shine to the rusted and morally bankrupt exterior of the club he follows.

Whatever your position may be on whether the Scottish media morons, the chouncil and assembled detractors have an agenda against our club, one thing is not up for debate and that is whether we have a figurehead who will represent us and our team – one that will always represent us faithfully and with honour.

Martin Bain seems to be emerging tentatively from the shadows of David Murray’s tenure like an Orange Tipped Butterfly from it’s cocoon. Incoming (for incoming, read caretaker) Chairman Alastair Johnston gave a strong rebuttal to media speculation without really inspiring the masses or convincing anyone that he was there for the long run. How much of a voice of the people can a Chairman be that lives in Florida be anyway?

We used to have a figurehead, a staunch defender of the people. Our own personal knight on a white horse. One that would try to fend off anyone attempting to tarnish or sour the name of our world famous and regal footballing institution.

That man was senior advocate and Queen’s Council in Scotland, Donald Findlay QC. I don’t wish to go down the route of making this piece of writing a lament for an ex-Chairman, but I’d rather like to use Findlay as an example of the kind of man that we all want to be stood at the gates to thwart the encroaching enemy. Findlay was someone who would look anyone that wishes to harm Rangers Football Club in the face and tear them a proverbial new arsehole with his wit and intelligence.

Findlay was forced to quit his post as vice Chairman of Rangers over ten years ago. In that decade much has changed at the club and in football in general. But Findlay has never been far from home though as he is one of the most respected speakers on the Rangers after dinner circuit. Anyone that has ever heard him speak will know that his knowledge and wit are two of his finest attributes – exactly the type of man we want in the trenches alongside us. The persecution Findlay faced from as many angles as a hall full of mirrors was unjust and in retrospect, completely unfair.

The incomperable Donald Findlay QC

In a time in Rangers history where we are surrounded by cretins that have it in for our club, Rangers need a man with a strong true voice. For far too long the media and more have got away with chastising our club at every opportunity. It’s tumultuous times for all. We all need someone and something that we can believe in. Hopefully the club will be bought by a man or men that fully understand what it means to represent Rangers.

I know for one that if it was me , Findlay would be the first phone call I’d make; to plead with him to pack his pipe and get back down to Ibrox. His voice is certainly strong and true and he would act to galvanise the fractured support, pin everyone’s shoulders back and make everyone associated with the club believe that the club support us as much as we will always support them.

We are the people, but it’s time we had back our man.

Written by therabbitt

December 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

The 21 Best Rangers Related Websites

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This blog is a resource for online bears out there with a bunch of different types of webpages that will be of use to you all. If there’s a favourite website of yours that I’ve missed then please add it at the bottom of this blog as a comment. There’s plenty here that you’ve probably used before, but there might be one or two that you haven’t used before.

So bookmark this article and come back every now and then to click on the resources or to add a comment if you find a golden nugget that no one else has suggested before.

  1. http://www.skysports.com/football/teams/rangers
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/r/rangers/default.stm
  3. http://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/Sport/Football/SPL/Rangers
  4. http://imageevent.com/wertp
  5. http://www.4shared.com/dir/1477876/a63de5c2/sharing.html
  6. http://www.daviecooper.com/wordpress/
  7. https://therabbitt.wordpress.com
  8. http://rfcyouths.wordpress.com
  9. http://www.bluenosebars.com/
  10. http://www.rangerssupportersclubs.com/
  11. http://www.rangerslotto.co.uk/
  12. http://www.rangers.premiumtv.co.uk/
  13. http://thebluenose.co.uk/
  14. http://www.rangerssupporterstrust.co.uk/rstsite/
  15. http://www.vanguardbears.co.uk/
  16. http://www.gersnet.co.uk/
  17. http://home.rangersmedia.co.uk/index.php/rangers-all-time-statistics-mainmenu-39
  18. http://www.rangersfchistory.co.uk/
  19. http://www.rangerspedia.org
  20. http://home.rangersmedia.co.uk
  21. http://forum.rangersmedia.co.uk

Originating in December 2005, RangersMedia has served supporters of Rangers on a multitude of levels. Most notably, the website is home to the very successful RangersMedia Forum which is home to over 15,000 members. It also sees a post count of 2.2 million on a number of subjects pertaining to Rangers F.C. RangersMedia is purely made by the fans for the fans and operates as a non-profit website.

Over the past few years, RangersMedia has steadily improved its service to Bears worldwide. The opening of a Rangers centered news service in 2007 was the first step in providing a multi-levelled service to fans. This has since seen our news articles picked up by Google, Newsnow and other online distributors as well as spots in the Number One Fanzine.

RangersMedia has also made itself more involved outside of the internet in recent years. Under the direction of Scott McMillan, the website has taken on a number of initiatives such as it’s first ever Charity Sportsmen’s Dinner this past spring that raised $4,000 for the Moni Malawi Charity. Special guests included Jeff Winter and Donald Findlay QC. Furthermore, individuals have shown their support for the club by assisting at Ibrox in various capacities as well as forming groups that attend important supporter events such as the NARSA convention in Niagara Fall, ON in 2009.

Rangerspedia is a new online resource for Rangers supporters throughout the world to access different aspects of the clubs history. There is articles about players, tournaments, competitions, managers and much, much, more.

The ambition of RangersFCHistory is to provide a detailed historical platform of all things related to Scotland’s greatest football club. The site includes details of every known game the Light Blues have played since 1872. Also included are the team line-ups, goal scorers and opposition details, where known.

Chic Sharps All Time Rangers Statistics is an Excel spreadsheet (also available in other formats) that contains a massive amount of information on all aspects of Rangers.

Gersnet is an independent, not-for-profit Rangers website and forum founded in the year 2000. Gersnet administrator Frankie says that “as we enter our tenth year of existence, we hope to cement our reputation as a quality source of information for all Rangers fans”. It’s a fantastic site that always has fantastic news articles and opinions worth reading.

Vanguard Bears is another brilliant fans forum and news site that caters Rangers fans. It is fiercely proud of the clubs heritage and the Rangers support at large. Some of the investigative journalism in their articles is amongst the best in the country. Dealing with important issues such as the media and sectarianism.

These are links to the main supporters groups, The Rangers Supporters Trust and The Rangers Supporters Assembly. Both may have different member lead mission statements, but the overarching theme of both is naturally for the better of the club.

The official Rangers website and it’s sister website for the Rangers Lottery.

Moving to a new area? If so then you’ll want to know where the nearest supporters club is so that you can organise your travel to Ibrox and where to watch the Rangers games. These clubs are especially crucial for supporters that don’t live in the West of Scotland. The amount of clubs available and the spread in their location is testiment to the massive size of the Rangers support. Bluenosebars is a fantastic website that groups Rangers friendly bars into different areas. Fantastic if you are going on holiday when there’s a big game on!

These are three WordPress blogs from independent writers that are updated regularly. Elfideldo’s youth blog is one of the best resources on the web for keeping abreast of the news and games of the Rangers under 19s. Davie Cooper Editors Blog is a new blog that is by a professional writer now exiled in Australia – it’s some of the best and most refreshing Rangers writing I’ve read in a while. Finally there is therabbitt’s blog – which is this place of course.

This site contains places to download all Rangers music in MP3 format. A fantastic resource and a perfect place to download songs for making a CD for before a big game or for taking onto your supporters bus.
A fantastic supporter collated collection of Rangers photographs.

The final links are places to keep yourself on top of all the latest Rangers news from professional news agencies.

Written by therabbitt

December 2, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Where have all the real men gone? A call for a Rino.

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Where have all the real men gone?

Hard working men that don’t care what they look like when they’re working at their job. They return home smelling of blood, sweat, dirt and sometimes with a nip of whisky on their breath. Men who toil, scrape and work their hands to the bone, fighting for their very lives every time they set off to earn a crust – no matter what it is that they do.

A certain brand of man. Cast from the sturdy mould of the hard working and dogged men of days gone by. Men that used to spend more time beneath the ground in dark, damp mines. Men that worked in the smokey ship yards of Govan and men who risked life and particularly limb to work in the industrial age factories across the West coast of Scotland and up and down this fine country of ours.

This same mindset was filtered into the men-only world of football stadiums, smokers nights and secret handshakes.

The football stadiums across Britian were places of sanctuary from hard working British men for an hour and a half every second Saturday. The pictures of thousands of men filtering patiently into the great stadiums across this land with their flat caps and trenchcoats on was a sight to behold. Spotting a woman in their midst would be like studying a Where’s Wally for that red and white striped jumpered moron. Whatever paltry wage they may have been earning was at least in part taken up for their ticket, pie and bovril at their stadium of choice.

On the pitch, the football when compared to today was agricultural in the large part – a large exponent of the ploughed field surfaces that the British climate brings. The men playing the beautiful game were much more robust; athleticism was not a the correct vernacular to describe the majority of players. These men were troopers on the football field. Each and every one of them proud to be representing the club crest that was emblazoned across their chest. It meant a different life than most.

These committed and determined men that would fight tooth and nail with their chest puffed out proudly, more often than not trudging on through the pain barrier, seem to have left modern football in the large part. They most certainly have at Rangers Football Club.

Taking a cursory look through the first team squad at Rangers as we reach the teenage years of the twenty first century, we see a bunch of primadonnas and players that put simply, just don’t look like they care.

Ask yourself, how many of our first team would sweat blood for our club crest?

They may say all the right things when it is time to give vox pops to their pals in the media. Yet when it comes time to step onto the plush grass that has been lapped with whitewash, they seem to wilt under pressure like Chris Burke in the Aberdeen sunlight. There’s no leader in the midst. Not one man will grab the players around them by the scruff of their collar, dust them down and carry them back into battle. These kind of men were last seen gracing the pitch at Ibrox in the times of the band of brothers in the 1990’s – but that is too long ago.

There’s no cutting edge at Rangers. There’s no one willing to be the bad guy for the good of the cause. The fact that the only player there is in our squad that stirs the green and grey hatred from across the city is a 30 year old substitute and impact player in Nacho Novo speaks for itself.

We need players that will get in the faces of our opponents and be willing to die for the men that are around them.

There is one man that I’d love to see back in a Rangers shirt who could stir the hatred in our enemies and the pride in all of us. A real man on the pitch that would fight till the death or at least until the jersey he had on his back had to be torn from his body – and he now lives in Milan.

Rattling around the San Siro on a weekly basis these days is the worlds smallest ton on bricks, Gennaro Ivan “Rino” Gattuso.

Gattuso is the man that crashes through the wry, self-seductive confidence that is apparent in the Gucci wearing, cologne dripped and tailored trousers of the AC Milan squad. The best description I’ve read of the man is that he “looks like a gardener and plays like a gardener’s shovel”.

Off the pitch, Gattuso looks like the epitomy of a modern cosmopolitan man. He dons the sheer cut and expensive suits, poses in the finest magazines and moves with the calm assurance that he is a man in possetion of a World Cup winners medal. Even his ragged beard is kept that way with much preening.

On the pitch, he is a completely different animal. He adopts the gait and defiance of a rabid, snarling pitbull that has been backed into a corner. He always leaves an early impression on the shinguards of whatever opponest he plays against, regardless of reputation, to let them know that the next ninety minutes are not going to be easy.

There’s a manic elegance to his football. He smiles like a cheshire cat as he involves himself in battles across the pitch – like someone that gains energy from confrontation and a test of wits and strength of character – a footballing succubus. Football purists might say that his best days are behind him and that the brand of football he plays is hard to love, but there is no doubt that he commands respect and can be a man to inspire and exactly the kind of man you would want by your side in a footballing war that simply had to be won.

Sometimes we are asked whilst in our locals with our aquaintances, that if we were Chairman of the club we love and given a blank cheque, who would we sign to rid the club from its current ails. Well I’d weigh in with a hefty support for the cultured man that has grown from the wide-eyed boy I remember being introduced onto the pitch in front of the fans with a compatriot when we won nine in a row.

It is a much debated thought and one that is more ‘pie in the sky’ than ‘aye’, but Rino Gattuso would be the perfect kick of paprika in our Pasta Piccante. Gattuso is not being played at Milan under Leonardo, perhaps as he is returning from injury, but it may also be that the distinguished Brazillian football gentleman just doesn’t see a battle hardened, Wolverine faced warrior as part of his plans.

Let me be straight. I am not suggesting for one second that I think Rino Gattuso will play for Rangers Football Club again. However, some of the veins that pump through his Roman arteries, servicing his adrenelane craving heart will forever be tied to the city of Glasgow and our club. We as supporters are forever tied to him too as he has once worn the royal blue of the mighty Rangers.

In a time where modern footballers are far too often concerned with Bentleys, broads, bank accounts, buffed up egos and bumper contracts, Rino Gattuso is a real man. I for one woul’d love it if he would once again become our man.

Written by therabbitt

December 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Madjid “The Sandman” Bougherra and Kenny “The Perma-tan Punisher” Miller

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Gritted teeth, gnarled expressions on the faces, knuckles whitened wrapped around the royal blue jersey of the interlocular, fists clenched at the ready, threatening ominously to be unleashed in a flurry of blows. Words of venom and frozen breath are being spat at each other through sheets of Friday morning rain and cold, blustery, sheets of wind.

I challenge you to a duel.

Two men stand toe to toe ready to take out an anger that must have been brewing with words of venom being spewed at one another. An Edinburgh lilt chews out words of distain to be met by the broken words of anger flowing in an anglo-gallic, French Algerian accent.

Both men willing yet pensive that the other will throw the first punch and the training ground set-too will spill over into a full on brawl on the watered, maintained grass of Murray Park.

Then it happened.

According to reports in the press and rumours circulating internet forums and messageboards the fight happened. More than verbal volleys were exchanged as a blur of arms and legs were tangled in a spurt of apoplectic rage. It was over as soon as it started and described as “handbags at 50 paces” by the manager – but can we read a little more into it?

Training ground clashes are what makes a team; yet of course it can also break a team. Walter Smith is particularly known for trying to encourage the players comprising his teams to train as hard as they play – something that was lost in the time of Paul LeGuen where contact at training was outlawed (just ask Phil Bardsley).

There is always flair ups in training at professional football clubs. Our manager in waiting Ally McCoist was an excellent proponent of this as his bright and breezy joker persona outside the club was a mask for a fiercely competitive and very hard trainer. Coisty revelled in tussles with Bomber Brown and Gough on a daily basis on makeshift training grounds which often continued onto the minibus on the way home. It’s a mark of respect that the players care that much.

Should the swirling rumours of the Scottish media and West of Scotland Chinese whispers that ensues everytime some Old firm gossip surfaces been reporting this story about any two other players then there is a chance that this tete-a-tete could be dismissed as two players who care so much about the club, the team and each other that their desire bleeds out onto their will to win training games; but it wasn’t.

It was Madjid Bougherra and Kenny Miller.

The fact that it was this pair is relevent as it was this pair that seemed to be having a throwaway “war of words” in the press last week. As we all know, Bougherra was late (again) in returning for duty with Rangers after Algeria’s success in getting to the World Cup in South Africa. Smith dealt with Bougherra in-house and then left him on the bench for Rangers’ European tie with Stuttgart. Meanwhile, Miller was pulled in after training as the rent-a-quote for the day in the media room at Murray Park.

Naturally, the media was going to ask the questions that the players didn’t really want to answer and the hot topic was of course the late return and potential dropping of arguably Rangers’ best player before a critical Champions League tie. Miller was probed on the issue and his comments were not really all that provocative;

“We want our best players out there,” Miller said. “Obviously I don’t know what’s gone on with Madjid not coming back but it’s something the manager will sort out I’m sure.

Miller continued and was a little bit more specific, “I don’t see any reason why he would want to stay away. Obviously this week’s circumstances with qualification for the World Cup is maybe a little bit more understandable than other times but still no excuse.”

Those comments are hardly a call to arms and a slap in the face for Bougherra; who at least on the park seems to get offended if even the slightest thing goes wrong. Yet, as ever, the Scottish media sensationalised the story and churned out the usual vernacular such as “blasted” and tone of reporting that will serve demonise both Miller and Bougherra.

Is this what served as the impetus and trigger to the fight that has been splashed all across the newspaper back pages of the sports sections today?

One can only imagine what might have been said between the two and who it was that might have started it:

In the red corner, wearing the green and white shorts, weighing in at something or other pounds, hailing from parts unknown……..Madjid ” The Sandman” Bougherra. In the blue corner, also wearing the green and white shorts, hailing from the wrong side of Scotland……..”Kenny “The Perma-tan Punisher” Miller. The verbals begin the bout…

The Sandman – “What is zhis you err sayeeing about moi dans le newspapeyay monsoir Meeloor?”

The Perma-tan Punisher – “Nuthin Boogie eh”

The Sandman – “Yoo dizrespect me in le papeeyay monsoir”

The Perma-tan Punisher – “Ah just said that you wur late comin back fae doon in ‘efrica, didnta eh?”

The Sandman – “For thees dizrespect…..I keel you”

(Bougherra comes flashing in with punches and kicks like a catherine wheel that’s flown off its upright and Miller replys by trying to spray some tanning product into Madjids eyes)

This is more than likely not what happened (you can pop that jaw closed now at that revelation I know). Although I’d say that I’d imagine Bougherra had been told about the newspaper article(s) second hand and had decided to confront Miller on what had been said. Of course this is conjecture and there is every chance that it might have just been two players clashing over an agressive tackle too far – but I just can’t buy it.

Now there’s two reasons why.

Firstly, I think that its fairly obvious that there is simply not that kind of fight on the pitch anytime we have all watched Rangers, Miller and Bougherra this season. Bougherra is the unflappable centre half who has only made about three mistakes in his whole tenure with Rangers.

He’s more likely to look personally offended at a bad challenge or a sending off against him than to fly into an unstoppable rage. Miller for all his endeavour and tenacity (is ‘headlesschickenness’ a word?) is not known as a hot head either.

It’s rather uncharacteristic of both – so there must have been something pretty major to set both these players off against each other.

It has to be the newspaper stories. Differences in culture? Misrepresentation in the press? Issues with translation and players hearing things second hand? The second reason I think that I think there is more to it is that there has been further rumour of Bougherra clashing with another team mate at the Rangers christmas night out in Manchester over the weekend.

Again, that is purely conjecture and could perhaps be put down to weekend Chinese whispers and stories being changed as they are passed from one person to another. But if there is a more than a shread of truth in it then it does seem that Mr Bougherra has issue with a couple of players or the converse; some of the players have issue with Bougherra.

Since this is an in-house matter and it should remain so, we will not know the full truth. Walter has said his piece and brushed off any discussion of there being dressing room unrest. The coming weeks will perhaps tell it’s own tale of what happened. Will we see Bougherra back in the starting eleven sooner rather than later? I’d predict so. Even if he had shat in Millers’ shoe he’d still get a game at Rangers until at least the transfer window.

We can only hope that a dressing room bubble of discontent will be the making of this side.

I always like to try and remain positive about our club and our team. I want to believe Smith that this was nothing more than a short disagreement that was over before it started – but I just can’t get my head around it. There is too much of a back story and too much that can be read into it for it to just have been born out of over zealousness in training.

I sincerely hope that rather than this discontent and distaste in the dressing room continuing and potentially fracturing the side, that this fight can be the full stop over the issue that possibly exists or existed between the two. A clearing of the air and two men that now respect each other for standing up for what they believe in. We’ve had a divided dressing room before that was highly counterprodutive to our aspirations as a team. Lets all pray that this is not the case.

Hey, who knows? Maybe Miller was just jealous of the natural tan that Madjid sports?

Written by therabbitt

November 30, 2009 at 8:46 pm

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So Walter is the worst manager in the world again is he?

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So Walter Smith is back to being the worst manager in the world again after some of his strongest critics being somewhat quiet of late.

What’s changed? Is it a case of the voice shouting the loudest is often the only one that’s heard? When we have been playing well of late, no one seems to have been quite as vociferous in their support and praise of the manager. Is this because it is the minimum that we are Rangers supporters have came to expect?

Before I start this discourse on the current state of tenure of Walter Smith, I feel like I should make one thing clear. Last night against Stuttgart was not acceptable. Our European distraction this season has not been acceptable. The managers decisions were not up to scratch for me, however more importantly, the performance of the majority of the players was beyond reproach. We have crashed from Europe with nothing but a whimper – a team that has as much potency and commands as much respect in Europe as Herman van Rompuy.

But can all the blame simply be laid at the door of Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowell?

Sadly, this time there is a very strong argument that Walter Smith has simply gotten it wrong in Europe this year. The defeats at home this season have been nothing short of embarrassing. An embarrassment we’ve not felt since some of the European forays Smith made towards the end of his first term at the helm of Rangers.

I wrote an blog yesterday saying that second guessing Walter Smith in Europe was as frivolous as trying to spell out words by poking a chopstick into a tin of alphabet spaghetti – something that was proven yet again as Smith deployed a very left-field formation (with Miller on “supporting wide” as I had predicted).

News of the tactical shape was leaked to the papers an hour or so prior to kick off with many dismissing it as tabloid rumour. However the rumours were true, Walter was going to shoehorn his squad into what sounded a very attacking 3-4-3 formation. On seeing it on the park though, it clearly wasn’t that.

In practice it was more like five at the back; quite possibly the most defensively that Walter has asked his troops to play since he came back to the club. Yes, much like the debate that 4-3-3/4-5-1 are actually the same thing – one is the shape when attacking, one when defending – the same is true for 3-4-3 and 5-3-2. Similar to the 4-3-3, the shape changed based on game-circumstance, where the wingers dropped into midfield, the two wide players from the four man midfield ended up dropping back into full back positions.

This drew pressure and allowed territory and space to Stuttgart too deep in our own half.

Our three man defence of Wilson, Weir and McCulloch was not up to the task of playing together in that formation. Despite the experience of Weir, he couldn’t help McCulloch through the ordeal and it seemed that Wilson was the most mature head at the back in many occasions. It was the kind of formation that Basile Boli would have revelled in.

We didn’t really challenge Stuttgart at all.

In all fairness they cruised it and had it not been for the inspired form of Allan McGregor we could have faced a much heftier deficit. McGregor, Wilson and Davis being the only players to come out from the debacle with pass marks. Boyd didn’t have as bad a game as many will have you believe. Yes, he missed that chance, but his all round game up front pretty much as a lone Ranger was passable. He didn’t set the heather on fire but he was not the worst player on the park. He would deserve to play against the Spaniards in the final game based on his performance in my opinion.

But I am talking about the players here. Not the manager. Who is to ‘blame’ for the European misadventure? Walter? The players?

If everything is considered with a sensible head then it’s a combination of both. Walter may have judged his tactics wrong last night, but the players didn’t show the fight and desire to win for Rangers that we have the right to demand from our players. We are not European no-marks like Gonnoreah Urziceni. Not one player pulled themselves and the players around him up over the precipice.

As much as the players all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet within the squad, there is not the level of commitment that is required to play well and win in Europe. Maybe the players in our squad are simply not good enough to compete and perform at that level? However that is a path that leads back to the manager. It was him that signed them and it’s him and his assistants that train them to mould them into the players that they are now.

So I suppose for me there is no direct blame for our European failure, it is a collective failing and everyone associated with the club has recognised that.

Players and management have been quoted last night and today saying that it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t, they recognise that and we recognise that. But for me, the doom and gloom merchants need to get a grip of reality. We may have slipped out of Europe, but two of the sides in our group are filled with magnificent players – some of the best of in the world, especially in the case of Sevilla. We are leading the league and are still on course for the other two domestic cups.

Look at it this way. The money in Europe is from the Champions League; we’ve played in the Champions League, we will receive the money. We are all disappointed to not be in the Champions League after the New Year but let’s face it, our squad is not good enough to be there. Apart from the last sixteen, the best we could have hoped for was a Europa Cup campaign which could have stretched our squad to it’s limits.

The league this year is our bread and butter. Simply, we have to win the league this year. Failure is not an option for the future of Rangers (without intervention from a new buyer). We must ensure Champions League football next season for our debt to be better managed. I know I sound like a bit of a drama queen here, but I genuinely believe that it is that important and I think that belief can be backed up when the figures from the latest financial reports are considered. It’s not the case that the club will cease to exist immediately or vanish like Gretna, but everything that we have came to expect and love could potentially begin to be stripped away.

Put quite plainly, if failure to reach the last sixteen of the Champions League or gain entry to the Europa cup means that our players are galvanised and we can go on to win the league then I’d very happily take that. Not every year, but this year I’d take it. Walter Smith knows that he won’t be the manager of Rangers for the next five years, he knows his time at the helm is coming to an end. Without a new owner there will be no fresh exciting young manager to come in. Who else would offer to work on without a contract as Walter has? He is what a lot of what Rangers should always be – proud, loyal, honest and a Trojan of a worker for the interests of the club. People should remember that before castigating him.

There wasn’t a bad word said in his name when he broke the news that the bank were severely influencing the club. He was lauded for protecting the clubs interests and for making the fans aware of a situation that we needed to know about. So let’s maybe cut him some slack.

Last night was a complete shambles, but we always need to look to the positives in life. This season is by no means over yet. We still have some of the most important months in Rangers history ahead of us. What the club, players and management need right now is us to be behind them in what they are doing. I may not like some of the decisions made by management and some of the performances and attitudes of the players, but I will continue to lend them my unwavering support – this season more importantly than most we need to be a collective unit, fighting for the same cause for the best of the institution that means more than anything to us all.

We might have whimpered out of the battle for Europe but the much more important and telling war is yet to be won.

Written by therabbitt

November 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Goram Exclusive: McGregor, Smith, Ferguson, the EPL and Hutton (not that one…)

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This is the third and final part of RangersMedia’s exclusive interview with Rangers Legend Andy Goram that we undertook last weekend at the fabulous Wee Rangers Club. This bumper final part of the interview covers a multitude of topics as Andy answered a whole range of different questions that the members of RangersMedia put to him.

Topics like Allan McGregor, the thought of Rangers playing in England, and who he thinks the next great Scottish goalkeeper will be were covered – and you might be surprised…

McGregor and Alexander, obviously both have attributes that are better than the other, but who do you think is the better keeper? And was it right for McGregor to step straight back into the team last year?

Well McGregor, he’s had a few years now where he’s hardly made any mistakes and no one can pin him for one real howler. Every game he makes saves to keep us in it. Obviously Alexander came in when he had to and you can’t fault him for anything. But I think that given McGregor’s record before, he was right to put him back in. The way the gaffer handled him is why we’re seeing the form he’s in now. I do feel sorry for Neil, but at the end of the day, he will know the situation as well

Everybody knows what I think about McGregor as a goalkeeper. He doesn’t make mistakes, he’s great physically and is really strong now.

Whenever you were playing for Rangers Andy, you often found yourself being quiet for large parts of the game before being called into action often to make unbelievable saves. How did you handle that mentally and be able to keep your concentration?

Well if you ask me, you can’t teach that. It’s something that’s in you. With the likes of Allan in the Hibs game, he’s made about nine saves that has kept us in the match. It’s not just the one, which is sometimes what happened when we played.

The difference was that we were just that good. He is under much more pressure and is getting man of the matches. However, if McGregor does end up leaving the club, then there’s no problem with Alexander stepping in.

How would you compare McGregor to yourself when you were his age? Is he as good as you were at that age?

I think that he’s done just as much as me, obviously performance wise. I mean, I played with Richard Gough and John Brown and he’s, with no disrespect to the current guys, playing with players that were in my opinion maybe not as good as us.

I think we’re exactly the same to be honest. I mean, he’s twenty six or twenty seven and I don’t think that I played my best football until the four years between twenty eight and thirty two, so he can still get better.

What are your thoughts about Rangers maybe playing their football in England?

You’d have to give Rangers and Celtic £200 million just to catch up – the standard down there is just that far advanced. If you put the two teams into the English Second Division now then they might struggle.

But yet, because of who we are, we could of course go down there and beat a lot of the teams in the Premiership. If you look at the standard of even the bottom teams in the league, they’re hard teams to beat.

You see they’re physically stronger down there, the players are big and are more like runners, it’s just a totally different game completely.

Euro 96 and Gazza’s goal – Was that the best goal scored past you? Do you think you could of saved it?

No, no, that’s the one. I don’t mind that being the best goal scored against me though, as he’s the only player that could have done that. I just kept shouting at Colin Hendry to stand up, I mean, we’d just missed a penalty 30 seconds before that. I’d have rather that Gazza scored than any other English player, that’s for sure.

What would you say is your most special moment when playing for Rangers?

To be honest it has to be the Celtic games, just being involved in them is fantastic. Every game against them, especially when you win is something special. Other than that I would maybe say the Leeds games – but nothing will compare to the Old Firm games, especially against the Tommy Burns teams.

If there was one result that you could have changed or a game you could have re-played differently, what would it be?

That’s simple, it would have been Marseille, the semi-final. We’d done everything, we’d won the league, the League Cup, the Scottish cup and to have our chance at the big cup would definitely be what I’d choose.

Would you have ever considered moving away from Rangers when you were at the peak of your career? Is taking the chance to move abroad , say with Brescia, something that you wish you’d done?

Yes, I did have the chance to go to Brescia, but I was quite happy at Rangers and didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was on decent money at the time, winning all the time, we were getting bonuses, we were winning trophies, playing in the champions league – so there was no point. You see players that go away to other countries and time and time again they just end up sitting on the bench. I was very happy at the big club.

When Bill McMurdo told you that Celtic were interested in you, how many seconds did it take for you to turn them down?

Well he only told me two years ago. So at the time, he didn’t even ask me, he kept it to himself. As for how long it would have taken me? I think you know the answer to that…

You have a great support from the Rangers fans, could you tell us about your thoughts about them?

How can you fault the Rangers fans? Especially after the 9 in a row celebrations. We gave them so many memories, but see when I go away in Europe with them, they give us loads of memories too. I suppose the thing is that we can’t remember them all (as Andy slugs from a glass of expensive red wine).

But they are great, it’s different times now though. Back then we drank with the fans, we even played dominoes with them. Me, McCoist, Durrant, McCall we were fans too, but we were just lucky enough to have played for the club too.

Do you think it’s a shame that the players can’t really do that now?

Well its changed times now, just totally changed. The difference is that we were winning every year. I think Walter won 14 trophies in 7 years, so when the team isn’t winning like that, then it’s the players that are going to hear the shite. It was easy for us when we were playing.

How would you compare Walter to Sir Alex?

I would say that they are so similar. Is it all about the mind games? I don’t think so, I think that its all about their man management – but more importantly they are fantastic coaches. You can’t do what Walter has done and what Sir Alex has done without having a real talent for coaching.

Would you ever fancy getting back into coaching or management yourself?

No, I wouldn’t say so. Not unless it was with the big club. Rangers. But I can’t say that now though, however if it ever came up and I had the chance to, I’d take it in an instant.

What about if McCoist and Durrant were to take over whenever Walter decides to call it a day?

Aye, well, if you’d said it to me when we were playing then I really wouldn’t have said that they would have a chance. But since they’ve mautred since then. Whenever you see Walter now he has Durranty beside him. If they want to be a manager, then they have the best teacher, that’s for sure.

Apart from any of the current Rangers keepers, who would you say is the next up and coming keeper in the country?

If we’re talking young Scots then I’d have to say young David Hutton. I was at Clyde with Hutts and I just think the world of him. I see so much of him in me and so much of me in him – just the way he goes about things. I had a great few months with him at Clyde and he was only 22. At his age, he is the best I think I’ve ever seen.

Will he be good enough to be a Rangers keeper? He’s certainly got what it takes. I’m sure of that.

Your dinner to celebrate the launch of your book , The Goalie: My Story, is this Sunday (15th November) and will be a great chance for you to see some old faces you played with. Who do you know is coming?

Well, all in there is probably about 25 players coming. Lads from my time with the club and also some guys that are currently playing. Walter’s coming, Bain and about 8-10 current first team players. There’ll be a table for some of the lads from my time with the likes of Laudrup and Albertz. I can’t wait, it should be a great night.

Just to kind of end things now Andy, could you tell us about what you think of the Ex-Players Fund charity which RangersMedia are actively involved in raising money for?

Well, I don’t see anybody else helping the ex-players, especially the older players that didn’t make the money that a lot of the other players are making.

A lot of these players need operations, surgery, for injuries that they sustained playing for the big club. No one can decry the ex-players the money after what they have done for us. I mean they gave a lot physically as well as mentally and it’s a great way for the fans to show their support for some of these guys and to thank them.

Written by therabbitt

November 18, 2009 at 12:40 am

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