I have to apologise in advance. What is about to follow is nothing more than a stream of conscious thoughts and unconscious emotional reactions. We could analyse anything and everything regarding the match on Sunday, or overall with Rangers in recent times, but it’s been done ad nauseam. There are times where emotion is required rather than logic, because the latter can be just as deceiving.
There’s more than just a lack of leadership at Rangers just now. It’s more than fair to say that such things hold you back. That’s not what we’re seeing just now. At any level, you can put in the effort to work through a lack of leadership. You may not be able to make wider decisions, but you can move to influence things as much as possible. In football, the team that is charged with winning matches and representing the club is probably more empowered than most. They’ve been training towards becoming professional footballers for a long time. To get that far, they must have shown pride, hard work and an ability to overcome adversity. There’s always far more players with the ability to play at a high level than there is with the mentality to do so.
With that in mind, there’s no excuse at all for players putting in the sort of performances Rangers have in recent weeks. I’d expect low confidence, and some lack of motivation. That’s understandable if rumours of dressing room issues and lack of respect for Murty are true. What has been on show allows anyone to reasonably question the mentality and professionalism of our squad. If you don’t want to perform for your manager, that’s fine. Being so weak as to allow the humiliations and drop in standards as they have is criminal. Not one player can say “I’m doing all I can” on this evidence.
Celtic are a better team than us right now. They should be, given the fact they spend around 3 times as much on their playing squad wages as we do. Not one Rangers fan likes to admit that, but we don’t hide from it either. In the previous matches against them earlier in the season, we put up a fight. On Sunday and in the semi-final, we essentially let them roll us over and tickle our bellies.
As mentioned earlier, logic can be just as deceiving as emotion. Logically, things have improved in the past couple of years. We have a more talented squad of players. The merchandise situation is now in our favour, and various things are in place which support all areas of the club. If you focus on those, you could be forgiven for seeing some positives. Right now, that’s akin to thinking Donald Trump is a good President because he’s given a few nice speeches at times.
Football fans are more than entitled not to be too concerned by off-field advances. It’s undeniable that they influence things on the park, but the complexities and lack of information mean that it’s not the barometer fans should be judging things by. Results, performances and signs of progress on the park are rightly the focus. In this, Rangers have been woefully lacking in recent seasons. I have no issue with not being as good as the team with far more money and stability, but to be struggling to get clear of sides with far less resources than us is the best indication of how we’ve went wrong.
I’ve been someone who has made excuses for this team and gave them a pass all too often. I can quite clearly say that I’ve been made a fool of. If the current players at Rangers somehow turn things around and become praiseworthy assets for years to come, it’ll be a surprise. The right manager, better leadership and more stability will help. What can’t be taught is attitude and mental strength in adversity, and that’s clearly lacking. We’ll bring in better players, we’ll hope some of the more promising ones we have can develop, and I’m sure in weeks and years to come I’ll have different feelings towards it all.
But one thing I won’t do is completely ignore the emotional side of the game as I have in the past. In many ways, it feels like Rangers have been doing that, and it’s been a huge mistake.