All Aboard! - The Transfer Express Is Coming
Paul Le Guen's mission (and he must now be wondering why he chose to accept it) was to rebuild the Rangers team almost from scratch and when a squad needs rebuilt, money has to be spent. The January transfer window is upon us and the Rangers faithful expect changes. We all know there is only one man that controls the purse strings at Ibrox; so take centre stage, David Murray.
Cast your mind back to the summer of 1998 when Dick Advocaat took over as manager. The previous season's failure to clinch ten-in-a-row meant the end of an era and several important players - Brian Laudrup, Richard Gough, Ally McCoist, Stuart McCall - departed the scene. Although we were left with the likes of Albertz, Gattuso, Porrini and Amoruso, money was essential. Some £30 million and a few internationalists later, Dick Advocaat had built a side that would bring five trophies to Ibrox in two years.
Across the city Celtic's decade-long run of abject failure was only finally put to rest when Martin O'Neill entered and was given a substantial transfer kitty. Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon and John Hartson were all signed for around £6 million each, Alan Thompson was brought in for around £3 million and wages were made available for the likes of Valgaeren, Balde and Douglas. Like Dick Advocaat, O'Neill was given cash to build his own team and the effects were felt immediately. It should also be noted that Celtic, even under Strachan, have made substantial wages available to bring experienced internationalists to Glasgow and operate with a debt of around £30 million in order to do so.
Paul Le Guen inherited an utter disaster of a Rangers squad. The success of the Chairman's tanorexic puppet in downsizing Rangers meant the squad our manager has thus far had to work with for season 2006/2007 was assembled from second-rate Bosmans and substandard youth players. It would be a monumental task for any manager to turn this squad into title challengers with little-to-no cash available. It just can't be done.
While Paul Le Guen must take his share of the blame for poor results, as a manager always should, the players must take a long, hard look at themselves. We have a state-of-the-art training facility and if performances are not up to scratch, if personal fitness is below par, if crossing, shooting or set pieces are wasted time after time, these so-called professionals should be staying behind after team training to practice in order to raise their game. If any of our wannabe stars are more interested in their Playstations and X-Boxes than improving their skills on the pitch then they're in the wrong game.
Paul Le Guen is neither a dud nor an idiot. He came to Ibrox as one of Europe's most highly rated young managers and this ability didn't disappear on the flight from France. But if he is expected to turn us around on a shoestring budget then failure is inevitable and recent performances are something we should get used to. The January transfer window is a vital time for the club.
I would be surprised if any Bears were confident of our team improving on last year's league position and two years without a shot at the Champion's League money would be an almighty shove on the downward spiral toward long-term mediocrity. Only one man has the power to turn things around and new signings are needed: Step forward David Murray.