Dosh for the Boys
in the face about our current situation. I've sat down and hopefully
compiled something that is as constructive as can be when it comes to
David Murray, and why, to an extent, we as a support have to accept a
share of the responsibility for the state we are now.
You'll forgive my youthful ignorance and not touching greatly on the
early 1980s, although I'm fully aware that David Murray signed Terry
Butcher, Chris Woods and started the rebuilding of Ibrox
single-handedly! (Sorry, that wasn't even funny.) I will attempt to
tackle the following counter-arguments within this article -
"You wurnae complainin' when we won 9 in a row!"
"Look at the mess Le Guen left us in!"
"It's no Murray's fault, it's ra recession!"
THE DAYS OF LAVISH SPENDING
During 9 in a row, we got punch-drunk on the success. It was hard not
to. I was but a young bear-cub during that time so my awareness of our
financial health was zero at that point. To briefly sum it up though,
based upon what older bears have told me, very few people mentioned or
questioned our financial health in the early days, and those who did
were written off as madmen, and a wave of disregard flew through the
air from Murray's hand any time the question was asked. With the
wonderful benefit of hindsight, we can say that indeed more question
should've been asked. Advocaat's success and Nine in a row did not
require anywhere near the level of expenditure we incurred and our
European performances for most of Murray's tenure have bordered on
laughable. But, we did nothing, we did not do enough to pressure this
man into implementing any kind of cost-effective long-term plan, one
of the first things another rich benefactor in Abramovich has done at
Chelsea. It might not work there, but the acknowledgement that the
club cannot function in the fashion it does without him in the future
is an after-thought that puts the Russian light-years ahead of Murray.
Misguidedly, despite the best efforts of many people, individuals in
the Trust and others, a large chunk of our support remain convinced
that Dick Advocaat alone was responsible for the debt reaching nearly
£85 million. This stance, despite many bears best efforts to publicly
criticise the chairman's financial mismanagement, were adopted as an
almost automated answering service by the media and again, many of our
fans any time the blame was laid at the chairman's door for our
situation. We done nothing, and ended up with the 2003 fire sale that
ironically, we only just barely seemed to be starting to emerge from,
despite the fact it was nearly six years ago.
THE BIG ECK YEARS
The McLeish era then split the support significantly, and is not a
debate that is either worthwhile or relevant at this time bar a few
points. What is clear is that McLeish wasn't trusted with transfer
fees, possibly due to the number of expensive pay-offs we had to make
to get rid of many of his albeit bargain-basement signings. This was
despite a healthy net profit in the transfer market during his tenure,
coupled with a drastic reduction in our debt. Also, to be fair to the
guy, who I ragingly criticised at the time, his European performances,
bar the obvious exception, were at least "ok" in terms of getting a
regular and reasonable amount of revenue from it. Needless to say it
wasn't pretty at times. However, anyone truly honest with themselves
would realise that after the second title McLeish won, which is
proving ever more critical as the years go on, it was time for him to
The Celtic side we pipped to the post was totally on its knees,
and tripped itself up time after time, and despite the massive boost in
transfer funds during the Helicopter Sunday season in the January
window, we continued to put in a catalogue of horrific performances,
even losing to bottom-placed Dundee United at home whilst top! The sad
fact is that as dramatic and wonderful a day Helicopter Sunday was, it
dragged out that long because of how poorly we were being managed. The
title should've been wrapped up much earlier. Again, most of us,
myself included, became willing to give McLeish a chance to learn from
his mistakes and the rest is history, as they say.
We ended up at the point of disaster, way beyond even the most
negative commentator's worst nightmare. Then, when McLeish lost
control of the squad and something way beyond worst-case scenario
happened: a third place SPL finish. That happened because the apathy
amongst our support allowed McLeish to remain in charge longer than he
should have. He was a very lucky man to survive the season we won
the title, as ridiculous as it may sound.
MOONBEAMS OVER GOVAN?
Soon after, there were moonbeams over Govan as Paul Le Guen arrived as
manager, something that, at the time, was an utterly breath-taking
proposition. The long and short of it is this: Paul Le Guen was given
£4 million to spend (£2.5 million net) on the worst Rangers side,
statistically, EVER. A Rangers side that had broken almost every record
in Scottish Football History that you could file under "shambles" in
the previous season. Clearly, there were issues with the guy's
attitude to the necessities of Scottish Football, but no one - Walter
Smith, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho - literally no one would have
been able to quickly turn that side around.
This was an ambitious long-term plan, the only one we've ever had, to
turn the mentality of our squad and methods around and the hardcore
didn't like it. It's perfectly legitimate to suggest Paul Le Guen
might not have been the man to see this through to the end. Clearly,
he is a temperamental guy who does not suffer fools or ignorance
gladly, something Scottish Football has in abundance, but just because
Paul Le Guen got the on-the-pitch tactics of Scottish Football wrong,
and the nature of player required, are you trying to tell me that a
former French international, vastly experienced at the top level, was
wrong with every decision, every observation and every change he made?
Is it really as straightforward as our league performance didn't start
off well enough = He is automatically in the wrong over Ferguson. Is
it as simple as that?
You and I both know it's not.
Within weeks of Le Guen arriving, the media had the man depicted in a
guillotine. "Le Chop-o-meter" I believe it was called. As insulting as
this may sound, many of our fans grew to resent PLG because of
articles like this embarrassing them in their work in front of their
colleagues. The media groundswell was no coincidence. PLG was a
foreigner who did not suffer fools gladly, therefore exclusives and media sound bites were few and far between. There were many justifiable reasons why he wasn't liked by many, but as far as the media is concerned, the reason I've just given you was the proximate cause of their hate. Believe that.
The possibility that Rangers were silently moving in a more positive
and sustainable direction with first-class methods being implemented
weighed on their mind, too. Believe that. Things were getting a bit
hairy, but show me a revolution that didn't.
Again, we went with the media. His signings were poor despite him
being forced to shop in the bargain basement to improve the worst side
in our history, despite many journalists admitting that if they knew
PLG was only getting £4 million to spend before he arrived they knew
it wouldn't be enough, they did all they could to hasten his exit. He
endured similar circumstances to McLeish with 110% less of the apathy
from our support and media because he wasn't a friendly Rangers
man/cheeky chappy/favourite uncle (delete as appropriate.)
A significant enough section of our support revolted in a shameful
display at Fir Park. The nepotism was alive and well, as we didn't want
"that frog" there any more. All because he displayed the first example
of brave and robust management at our club since Souness: he wanted
rid of the man he believed was defending the bad habits of much of the
Scottish members of the squad. The players didn't like it, nor did the
These habits saw us finish 3rd the season before, drinking, sick-lines
from the club doctor for hangovers, bad eating habits etc just a small
example of some of the basics that were wrong. The way the club was
being run the previous season was how the Scottish core preferred it.
Despite the Scottish players being noticeably fitter, they didn't
enjoy the work ethic. This caused a rift in the dressing room and
between the support and PLG. The end result, he is gone: but more
importantly, the forward-thinking attitude that led to his appointment
is irreversibly changed.
And now we're here. The second fire sale of the decade, caused by
nepotism, partly and indirectly caused by us. PLG's successor has
wasted more money, left us stuck with more duds on long contracts and
high wages yet despite the gigantic gulf between the two manager's
spending, the league position and issues over-turning Celtic remain
exactly the same. To make matters worse, this management team
squandered their transfer budgets so badly this season that it cost us
European Football, and now, will cost us at least one of our
much-needed first team players just to balance the books.
In a time when we have effectively no money to spend on players,
Murray has a management team who do not promote youth players, do not
scout the continent for younger talent and seldom sign a player unless
they've played with us, against us or under the management team
before. There are literally a few exceptions to that rule out of the
20+ players we've signed. For a club with a rising debt and minimal
income streams, how is this the correct way to proceed?
THE VERDICT ON MURRAY
David Murray has run us shockingly, with no rhyme or reason to
anything he does. Our club's debt level and European participation up
until now doesn't seem to have much of an impact on transfer budgets.
Who the manager is, however, most certainly does. Managers who may
just have an effective long-term plan get nothing - Mates get whatever
David Murray is reactionary, he'll buy to relieve pressure on himself
and the financial risk involved is irrelevant.
He will not communicate with the fans unless we protest, question him
specifically and cause a ruck, Eck's departure being a solid example
Two years ago today, we made a huge, huge error which could-well ensure
that we're set back another decade. Not by allowing Le Guen to leave,
but by bringing in two faces to appease the nepotistic amongst our
fans and moving backwards.
In the £29 million and two years that has passed, we have nothing to show
for it other than a string of expensive and unnecessary signings, a
manager unfit for 21st century football and a chairman who wants out
and is no longer interested. Not to mention a structure within the
club that has reverted right back to the 90s.
We're not to blame for the actions of David Murray but we have to
accept a portion for how bad it's got and look at how often we've
asked questions of the club's future. His solutions and answers to all
of our on and off-field problems consist of one of two things:
Mass-Selling or Mass-Buying and the outcome after each always ends up
the same in the long run - failure.
All of this has been coming for a long-time, and the longer it takes
for us to actively do something about it, the longer it's going to
take for us to recover.
Now that the management team have tried to lie and patronise us
through Murray-initiated propaganda about the recession - Smith,
McCoist, Bain and Murray are now very much on the same side of the
Coin. It's about time they were tossed.
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