Blame it on the Barry - Time for Ferguson to Grow Up and Move On
After being signed by Graham Souness, who moved on to Newcastle shortly after, new manager Mark Hughes regularly talked up Ferguson, and vigorously tried to hold on to him when we attempted to re-sign him using some of our cleverly accumulated transfer funds in January 2005. The attempt was successful and we found ourselves in disbelief that we'd managed to make such a big signing so soon - not to mention the dramatic last-minute activity that brought the move about.
Ferguson, up until recently, had certainly managed to portray himself as more grown-up than he was during his first spell at the club and for me, the common belief about a large chunk of our fan-base still holding a grudge against Ferguson for leaving the club at a difficult time is greatly exaggerated.
Again, up until recently, Ferguson's ability as a player has seldom come into question either. What has constantly been a source of debate amongst Rangers and Scotland fans over the years has been his ability to captain a side and his ability to cope with the pressure and expectations that come with it.
This week, after a series of small incidents, Barry Ferguson, for me, lost the plot - and has once and for all failed to do what all of his pals in the media, relatives and colleagues at club and international level have said he was going to do: He DIDN'T prove the doubters wrong. He NEVER defied his critics…
...he has vindicated his doubters and critics. The fans in the terrace, the few football luminaries in this country who don't back him and let's face it - He has more than vindicated a certain Frenchman who will be sitting in his office in Paris observing events with interest. Le Guen's results were poor, but by identifying the poor nutrition and extra-curricular activities of many of the Scottish contingent at our club, he's now beginning to look like football's answer to Nostradamus.
As for Ferguson? We can sit here and debate till the cows come home, but those amongst us who are looking to pin the "blame" for this incident on the media and attempting to lump this issue into the continued debate over the clear media bias against our fans can pretty much forget it. Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were caught steaming drunk at 11am on Sunday after being given permission to chill-out at 5am on the same day, just after the Scotland team arrived back in Scotland from a sound drubbing at the hands of the dutch.
"There were 5 other players there!"
"Brown 0.1 only went to his bed 15 minutes before Fergie and Greegsy"!
"When will the other players be punished?"
All futile and irrelevant arguments - I couldn't care less about any other player and what they do - When my club captain represents Rangers whilst playing for Scotland, I expect behaviour of a high calibre, I expect our captain to be a cut above every other player there and in football terms, that player should behave like a leader of men. Let Celtic's players mirror their support and behave like animals - that's how they are, but ALL Rangers players must behave like professional athletes, role models and leaders when representing Rangers and/or Scotland - It's beginning to sound like an over-used cliché, but we are a club reknowned for the dignity displayed by our personnel and while I appreciate we're not all doing cartwheels about the people in power at Ibrox right now, that standard must be maintained - and for the first time in a long time, Walter Smith is correct to punish the player.
Aside from the drinking incident, the images of both players flipping off the crowd whilst occupying the bench for Scotland on Wednesday made me cringe, having just seen it in a loop over and over again on Sky Sports News - regardless of who the gesture was aimed at, the duo looked like a couple of wide-eyed children, complete with petted lip.
Barry Ferguson isn't someone who constantly misbehaves off the field, but when placed under pressure on or off the field - he panics and does the wrong thing - a few dodgy sending-offs, the PLG-affair in January 2007 and his behaviour whilst we the Scotland squad prove this beyond doubt.
Sadly, the drop in behaviour has coincided with a second spell at Rangers littered with long-term injuries, gambles by delaying surgery on niggling injuries that haven't paid off and serious concern over him having undue influence on the club… not to mention his average form this season bar his recent upturn.
It almost seems unfair that the career of Barry Ferguson at Rangers looks likely to end in shame, but perhaps he should take a long hard look at himself and look at some of the people he has chosen to confide in during bleaker times, because the defence of Barry by these same "confidantes" is now conspicuous by it's absence - His own family would struggle to put up an adequate defence for his recent discretion.
Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor came out smelling of roses in January 2007 after the captain used his media contacts to oust a manager he never respected or wanted at the club - with the wily old fox in charge of the club now, they will not be so lucky this time.
Let's hope that we can now recover as a football club from the no-proven fact that the events of January 2007 have set us back 2 years. Where are you now Mr "Nae Barry = Nae Rangurz"?