There is no doubt that Rangers had a bad day yesterday. Exiting the Champions League presents a financial catastrophe for the club that has based their financial expectations on gaining entry to the money-making event. They also finally missed out on the capture of David Goodwillie, who eventually signed on the dotted line at Blackburn Rovers.
It certainly wasn’t the time for putting the boot in that can be very harsh and reactionary in the moments after a defeat. Yes, there were some fans screaming for the head of McCoist and Whyte but hopefully today they will have calmed down and realised there is still a long way to go and these men need time at the club.
However, the reaction to yesterday’s defeat is equally baffling and actually makes you wonder if the reporters watched the game…or were basing their opinion on second hand comments from people like Billy Dodds or Pat Nevin.
With the exception of Whittaker and Bougherra, whose stupidity knew no bounds in Sweden, it was implied that the Rangers performance was heroic. It showed effort and commitment but coming as it does less than a year when a well-drilled Rangers side went to Old Trafford and took a point in a controlled and intelligent, if a bit dull, performance, to label last night’s performance as heroic was just silly.
Rangers were denied a domestic treble last season when their players lost the plot at Parkhead and the same outcome occurred last night. Going into that Cup replay, Rangers, stung by a 3-0 league defeat at Celtic Park, stated they would make it tougher for Celtic. Loan player Kyle Bartley indicated that the team were not going to stand about, they were going to get in Celtic’s faces. It was a tactic that saw Whittaker sent off in the first half and Madjid Bougherra in the second half.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Ally McCoist was quoted as saying that Rangers would get in the faces of Malmo and it resulted in Whittaker being sent off in the first half and Madjid Bougherra in the second. Rangers had learned nothing about how indiscipline can cost a side and it was their downfall.
Nikica Jelavic scored brilliantly on the volley to level the tie and Rangers can complain about the lack of a red card for retaliation on Lee McCulloch. Durmaz should definitely have seen red. However, on the night, McCulloch, Edu and Steven Naismith could all have been given their marching orders (the lunacy of Naismith kicking the ball off an opponent, considering what had already transpired on the night was incomprehensible) and what was going through Alan McGregor’s mind in injury time with his karate kick motion, we’ll never know.
As it was, Rangers only have themselves to blame because even with the lack of men, they had the chances over the two legs. Naismith has to take a lot of responsibility on his shoulders after a trio of gilt-edged chances went a-begging over the two legs. These chances would have been bread and butter to a clinical finisher, which makes the non-appearance of David Healy even the more puzzling for Rangers fans. If McCoist didn’t fancy him to grab goals, why was he given a contract?
It was well known that Rangers were in the hunt for a striker and it looked as though that man was David Goodwillie.
Rangers fans have been quick to vent their anger at Dundee United and chairman Steven Thomson for not selling Goodwillie to the Ibrox club but the blame has to lie a lot closer to home.
United stated that the Blackburn Rovers offer is better for them and without going into details, that is fair enough. Even if Rangers bid was financially bigger (which there is nothing to say it was, or in the manner or method of payments), United would find a bid from down South for their player to be more attractive than selling to a Scottish club. United may not be seen as a direct rival for Rangers with regards to both teams league ambitions but the two clubs regularly face each other 4 times a season with the potential for more in the Cups.
Rod Petrie at Hibs has shown clubs the way to go. It is possible to squeeze the big Glasgow two for as much money as possible if they are the only interested parties for a player. Also, if a club from down South wants a player, as long as the difference in bids isn’t too much, it makes business sense to sell the player outside the SPL.
This isn’t taking into consideration the concern that clubs must have when it comes to allowing Rangers to pay transfers over a lengthy period of time. There are too many unknown variables within Ibrox at the moment with regards to money to make this a viable solution.
Only a foolish club would accept staggered payments from Rangers at the moment. Some will point to the deal that Rangers agreed with Hearts for the transfer of Lee Wallace but surely Heart of Midlothian are the dictionary definition of “foolish club”, if not an even harsher term.
Ally McCoist seems to be regularly upset with the fact that he is unable to speak to players directly and personally tell them of his vision for Rangers. There is a reason for that and it is the fact that he doesn’t have permission to speak to the players. If McCoist is feeling frustration at the thwarted attempts, it should be at the money men in his own club who are attempting to broker these deals in a completely amateurish way.
United fans will think that their club acted perfectly well throughout the transfer and it is hard to see what Rangers fans are upset over…apart from the fact that they haven’t rolled over to get their tummy tickled. There is also the fact that having Goodwillie on board may have been the difference between Champions League progress and demotion to the Europa League.
With only 2 league games gone and four points in the bag, it certainly isn’t panic time at Ibrox. There is still nearly a month of the transfer window to go and a lot can happen between now and then. However, there is a need for people to honestly appraise the situation.
The co-efficient points of Malmo indicates what an upset it was for Rangers to lose to them and even a lack of match sharpness cannot be used as an excuse for such a poor showing over the two legs. Ally McCoist is definitely in the deep end and publicly praising the players who kept their heads is not a bad thing for a manager to do. However, if McCoist was also praising those players in private, he may be setting up poor precedents for the season ahead.