Football fans are a fickle lot, but they also aren’t daft and they know when a slump can be excused and the odd one-off can be reasoned away. Rangers at the moment have some structural problems.
Rangers lie third in the third division, one point behind both second and first place, having played one more game than leaders Queen’s Park, with both sides due to meet at Ibrox in the next league tie.
Today they were beaten by the team that began the day at the foot of the table: the bottom of the basement of the game in Scotland. The Stirling Albion manager wasn’t even at the ground today, the game falling somewhere in between the vows and the Timewarp>Macarena>Dancing Queen DJ trauma hour.
Rangers FC have never ‘gained’ so few points from the first seven games in the era of three points for a win.
The last time the Club failed to win any of their first four away league games was in 1989.
OPINIONS of a worthy and lesser value
Messrs McCoist, Durrant, McDowall and company have proven – since the first minor setback last year – that they are fine men but hopeless football innovators/coaches and would not get a ‘gig’ at an equivalent Club elsewhere.
Following the successful example of today, we should send Ally on holiday for a few weeks and have Broxi Bear take his place in the dug-out.
If we don’t do that then perhaps we might ask if giving the appearance of being stubborn, inflexible and so bereft of even the most simple willingness or ability to change formation or stick with a plan that works is really a set of complementary qualities we desire in a manager.
It’s football, and although punts are nice in the American version we don’t always need to look as if they are our main tactic. Likewise, it is possible to play two men up front away from home and/or look to move the ball wide as a priority to stretch the game and the amateur opponents who one might expect to be slightly less fit than the several K a week brigade.
Some of the players have an attitude problem.
Some of the players are so shockingly unable to deal with life at Rangers that they look uncomfortable even in the lowest senior SFL league.
Many of the players are young, inexperienced and require the input and example of the senior professionals.
Some of those senior players are over-paid journeymen whose terms of acquisition seem to include a clause to allow them to play – and displace men in form – whenever they can muster the energy to take the field.
We have an excellent training ground. We don’t seem to be using it very well and haven’t since some point around the turn of the twenty-first century. Occasionally this manifests itself when contemplating the latest free-kick or corner, at both ends of the pitch. And, very often, when Rangers look second-best and unable to press home an advantage late in a game against guys who are petrified the ref adds on too much injury time as their shift starts in two hours.
We’re one more defeat away from a version of a footballing crisis - with the support turning on the manager, players and anybody else daft enough to get in the way - and many of those people forgetting we’re lucky to continue to have a side to berate every week. Such is the way of the sporting world.
Charles Green has stated already that he will make decisions free from fan influence. He says what he likes and likes what he says. He will be rightly concerned at the moment on two fronts: the team’s no’ playing well and the punters are restless so might not be as keen to throw their money about when it comes to shares, merchandise and future enterprises.
While no-one would suggest the start to the season has been inspiring we’re not (quite) yet at the point where the panic button is pressed. The simple and exclusive objective this season is promotion (or more accurately winning the division). If that likelihood becomes diminished to the point of peril then Ally will be sacked: And rightly so. There is no excuse for the hero, nor is any man bigger than the Club, even one whose contribution in other areas in the past year has done so much to make us admire the man we all loved as a player. And yet, even in the heat of the post-match hyperbolic storm, it still seems, at the moment, to be unlikely.
There are, however, certainly a set of circumstances wherein the removal of Ally and his backroom staff could become more likely. Further away-day league humiliations, a cup spanking or two and a sense of little improvement being displayed on the park could all begin to make the pressure matter – but it would have to be sustained and last until at least toward the end of 2012, if not into 2013.
Picture a scenario where, by the start of January 2013, Rangers are still in third place and still unable to play away from home and it might make it inevitable that both the fan-base and the people running the Club would need to contemplate difficult decisions.
Of course, the real catalyst for change, if it is to come swiftly, is the prospect of the malaise of the away adventure causing a reaction at Ibrox. The QOTS cup exit was tolerated, but it is inconceivable to consider that a succession of home reverses could do anything than accelerate desire amongst fans to lash out at the legend and force Green’s hand. Forty-thousand booing is a bigger problem than those left unmolested by the disgraceful policing employed across the nation expressing their displeasure in someone else's hoose.
For some, the idea of discussing Ally’s sacking will be tantamount to treason; for some on the other extreme (still a small number in real terms but growing) the time has come and gone to consider his managerial record and aptitude as evidence enough to break-up the relationship.
He’s suffered more than almost any other manager in his short period in charge but this is his team; his boys; these are his signings; and it’s his legacy at stake.
We don’t want Ally McCoist to become John Greig.
Both had character aplenty and could never be accused of a lack of commitment and effort. But John is now considered a joke figure by many of a younger generation. Ally, meanwhile, is the single most charismatic figure Scottish football has showcased in many a generation. But both he and his players and backroom staff have their work cut out here: they could have as little as a few weeks to demonstrate they have the answers to the problematic questions being discussed with ever greater volume and passion amongst the wider Rangers family.
Failure now, after all we’ve been through together and all he has offered would be heartbreaking. Nobody need tell Ally things aren’t great but there are a few wise old heads out there whose advice could come in useful. He must succeed or fail as his own man but some of the answers to those questions and concerns needn’t be beyond him if he’s brave and ruthless enough.