I’d tried to temper my bewilderment at our close season signings by reflecting on the often used mantra that “there is no substitute for experience”. But having a manager with a propensity for playing just one out and out striker it seemed reasonable to question the wisdom of signing 2 ageing, albeit proven strikers, taking our total to 5. I suppose in some ways the fact we played with 2 up front today is a positive improvement – cherish it, its probably the only positive you will find in this article.
With young Charlie Telfer exiting Ibrox and directing barbed comments at our manager’s apparent unwillingness to blood youngsters, the departure of goalkeeper Scott Gallagher and the re-signing of the veteran and occasionally calamitous, Steve Simonsen does little to suggest that youth is to be the favoured option. One wonders how young Nicky Clark feels his development will fare as the least favoured option behind Boyd, Miller, Daly and given today’s personnel selection, even Shiels.
Why is this important ? Well if we do manage to successfully negotiate the championship, and I appreciate after today some are saying that’s a pretty big “if”; rather than return to the top league with the nucleus of a young team we will instead be replacing ageing players in key positions. “Professors” of football often speak about the “spine” of a team – goalkeeper, centre back and striker. Of our current spine I see only Cammy Bell offering any kind of continuity in this regard. Which of course means new blood, a settling in period and that’s before we find the readies for such an overhaul. Without wishing to induce further panic it’s probably worth asking the question if there will even be the money for such an overhaul ?
So what does all this experience get you for your money? Well not a lot judging by today’s performance. You could forgive a schoolboy team for switching off after scoring and giving yourself a lifeline but a team brimming with seasoned pros? Furthermore how can it be that Nicky Law and Ian Black despite having countless games together under their belt, give the appearance they have never played with one another before? The booing of the formers man of the match award should serve as a warning to all at Ibrox that whilst we may be loyal we are certainly not gullible.
Kenny Miller did what we have come to expect him to do, and were it not for the detrimental effect to Nicky Clark’s development and the fact he is a short term rather than a long term answer, you would see this as a beneficial signing for the season, particularly if young Clark was paired alongside him. Kris Boyd I’m not so sure of. He somehow managed to look even less mobile than 1st time around, so much so, I half expected Police Scotland to bring the game to a halt and announce they had found Clyde, the missing Games statue.
The progress and improvement of Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird has been deeply satisfying for us blue legions, the former in particular showing particular potential. Could a few others have benefited from an extended run in first team football ? Some will remember Dick Advocatt recognising the potential of a young Barry Ferguson and building a team around him, sadly that will not happen so long as young Macleod finds himself played out of position on the wing
We need to stop making excuses for Ally. Yes he has had to endure challenges no other Rangers manager has had to contend with but that really does not excuse signings which are devoid of long term vision, as well as tactics, team selections and substitutions which have us all bewildered.
There was a moment today when the cameras panned to John Greig sitting in the stands, and on seeing his image on the screens applause echoed around the ground. John is a Rangers legend on and off the park. Unfortunately he was not a very good manager.
I fear history may be repeating itself.