Last updated : 17 February 2006 By ERWIN GANGHUTTER
Delahunt was razor sharp on Play School – or was it Scotsport? – on Monday night. Looking ahead to this weekend’s match at Ibrox, he took great delight in referring to a HIVs website which asked if they get Rangers to keep if they beat us again. Oh what whit! I remember thinking I wished I’d thought of that line first…about 30 years ago!!!
Sadly, this is where Rangers are at this particular moment in time. Everyone is having a laugh at our expense and, while we will surely wipe the smiles off their faces when Paul Le Guen begins to kick arses, the perils of looking too far ahead, instead of focussing on the here and now, shouldn’t need to be underlined. Rangers have got to start winning games NOW if Big Eck’s successor is to have European football on his agenda and Saturday’s opponents are the biggest threat to our Euro future.
Having lost three on the trot to the Trainspotters, a Rangers victory is long overdue and, although it is difficult to see where a change in fortune is going to come from, in each of our defeats there has been a pivotal moment which, had it gone our way, would surely have resulted in a different outcome. Both Ibrox games hinged on the scoring of the opening goal and we had chances aplenty to get it, only to surrender the initiative, leave ourselves pissing into the wind, then got picked off on the break. And at Easter Road, having got back to 2-1, Hammy Namouchi blasted the ball over the bar when a simple touch would have levelled the scores.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should have won these games. But the 3-0 scorelines were certainly harsh on Rangers and we might have nicked something at Easter Road so I maintain there is no great gulf to be bridged this weekend. If the players go about their business in the proper manner and get an even rub of the green we WILL beat Hibs.
The Press Gang have been in such a hurry to heap praise on Tony Mowbray’s young side but, if they are really so hot, how come we are so close to them in the table? After all, as the media muppets keep reminding us, this is the worst Rangers team of all time. Yet victory at the weekend will take us above Hibs in the battle for the lucrative third spot in the SPL table.
Rangers certainly can’t afford to settle for fourth in the hope that it will be enough to get us into Europe. With so many shocks in this season’s Scottish Cup, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that an outsider wins the thing and grabs a UEFA Cup spot alongside the SPL’s third team. And while the Intertoto Cup might offer a few interesting trips, we really don’t want to go down that route, do we? Besides, when selling our club to a top notch coach like Paul Le Guen, the Minted One surely highlighted our regular presence in Europe as a big attraction. Would a Europeless future make the job quite so appealing to the new man?
Strange though it might seem, our previous problems with Hibs might work in our favour this time around. I’ve detected an arrogant tone about the Easter Road players in the wake of their most recent success and some flippant lines from the Hack Pack, plus their fans insufferable gloating, could just set them up for a big fall.
I suppose it will depend on which Rangers team turns up. There has been talk of the players ‘owing’ Big Eck and more than a few should be playing for their futures but they must see that they are fast running out of opportunities to make amends for the crap they have served up this season. And of course with Villarreal due at Ibrox in midweek, they should be looking to give the manager a different kind of team selection headache.
Julien Rodriguez’ appearance as a second half sub on Sunday hinted at what Big Eck might have in mind for Wednesday. Brahim Hemdani’s presence on the bench has also suggested that he is ready to return but he’ll surely need to get a full 90 minutes under his belt before being thrown into a Champions League match. Hutton, Smith and Burke all emerged from last weekend’s debacle with their reputations relatively unscathed so they too should be included in a line-up which won’t be too far away from the starting eleven to face the Spaniards.
But we mustn’t take our eye off the ball on Saturday. Ideally, we would be sitting well clear at the top of the table and in a position to save our best for Wednesday. Aye, dream on! League points are crucial to Rangers, just as they would be if we were running neck and neck with the Scum Of for the title. The target may not be quite so glamourous but, in terms of Rangers’ standing as a major club, victory is paramount this weekend.
Anything else and Rock Steady will again be bringing the players' cars round from the school to the track to help them make another redfaced getaway.