Weeks of administration look set to drift into months. Friday's false "deadline" regarding bids came and went with notes of intent lodged from knights, sharks and a Chicago turnaround mob. Other interest is also said to exist from as far a field as Singapore and the Middle East. Until the administrators actually establish they have the power to sell Craig Whyte's shares and manage to have the Ticketus contract ruled invalid in court then we will remain, at best, in limbo. This week the events of true significance all centred on the growing cries of "cheat, cheat, cheat".
Three weeks into administration and things go from murky to murkier. With no clear view on the club's security, no certainty of fulfilling fixtures until the end of the season, no conclusion on the Ticketus monies and only understandably vague revelations of potential bidders it seems there will be no immediate end to the uncertainties surrounding our club. I have said repeatedly that the end game for me is a sale of the business and assets, i.e. everything that constitutes the club, to a new company (newco). For me the current company is simply the ownership structure of the club and Rangers will survive. The fall out in terms of punishments and demotions though make many uncomfortable with such a resolution.
I thought at this juncture it was worth considering the recent performance and position of the key protagonists in the current drama.
A dystopian vision of the footballing future came into view for Rangers fans around the world this week. The appointment of administrators will in time allow the misdemeanours and excesses of the last two regimes to be laid bare. Tax evasion, fraud, a missing £24 million, money laundering… over the last week the more details that have emerged the less clear the nightmare has appeared.
Questions have been asked about Ally McCoist's tactical abilities and what type of team he is seeking to develop. Watching the game on Saturday there was an all too familiar feel to Rangers' efforts. Players out of position? Check. A lacklustre first half building to a frantic last 20 minutes? Check. Lack of direction from the bench? Check.
International week always seems to throw up Olympic "Team GB" football stories. The very name "Team GB" betrays the artificiality of this state foisted experiment but despite the opposition of three of the four nations required to form the team Lord Coe, Stuart Pearce and Adidas are now certain to have their wicked way.
It is hard to know what to make of this weekend's daw with St Johnstone. The Perth side are having a pretty decent season but even still three points at home should have been secured. We seem to be developing a habit of dropping points after international week. Management acknowledged the issue prior to the match but were clearly unable to resolve the problem.
As the ruddy nosed Knight of Old Govan Town so eloquently observed, "squeaky bum time" has arrived for Scottish football. This is the last weekend before the split and every one goal win suddenly takes on enormous significance. Twice this week Jelavic has delivered a moment of pure magic and all three points. We should perhaps be grateful he was not eligible for Europe this season for even one goal of such quality on the big stage would surely have seen him join the likes of Carlos Cuellar as a one season wonder sold on for a short term profit. Hopefully he can be retained post takeover and will find himself with a little more quality round about him next season.
It seems a while now since Rangers showed any real form. That can't last for ever and I believe that having scraped through recent matches with the points we needed we can now kick on for the final weeks of the season. With the Old Firm match looming and the chance to go top of the league I had hoped totday would be the day but sadly not. Once more the vital thing is picking up another three points.
The post-split fixtures were announced this week and as ever caused controversy. I have sympathy with Hamilton who face the prospect of playing St Mirren away three times, after all a few years back we faced our second biggest rivals, and serial game raisers, Aberdeen three times at Pittodre. Nobody could ever pretend the split is perfect or that it doesn't create some inequities. There is though a tendency to look for false controversy. Can it be that Celtic fans (and some not a million miles from this blog) really feel the need to complain about having three away games post split? After all Rangers and Celtic will play the same number of home and away games over the season.
The days before an Old Firm game can be suffocating in Glasgow so let's get a little perspective...
One of the most intense derbies in the world is to be found in Montevideo. There Nacional and Penarol contest the city's very own superclassico. Penarol were founded by English railway workers and in the initial years football in this country was viewed as the immigrants' sport. Nacional, as the name makes clear, were formed to represent the "natives" of Uruguay whilst, as a duoploy emerged in the domestic league, Penarol were defined as the immigrant's team. To this day the intensity of the rival persists despite the decline in the standard of Uruguay's domestic football. One difference is the level of crowd disturbances which far exceed anything you could ever imagine taking place in Glasgow. Have you ever heard this game referred to as Uruguay's shame?
The parallels with the Old Firm are striking. Rangers were founded by a group of amateur rowers. There was no notions of Britishness or Protestantism just a sport for the sake of sport. Later Celtic would be formed as a club for the growing Irish community in Glasgow. The name was carefully chosen to honour the community's roots but to recognise equally that Scotland was now their home. It was in every sense an expression of the development of a significant, and ultimately successful, new community in Glasgow. As Celtic began to win trophies their main rival Rangers began to be seen as the native challenge and so by the end of the First World War the notion the club represented Scottishness, Britishness and the native Protestant religion had become ingrained.
The famous line in 'Follow Follow' has never really been as relevant as it has become in the last few days. Maurice Edu's injury-time equaliser in Lisbon has put the Gers into the Last 16 of the UEFA Europa League where we will take on Eredivisie league-leaders PSV a week on Thursday.
The authorities in Dublin must be dreading the prospect of 200,000 bears descending on the Irish capital. Incredibly, you might even have that figure travelling from Northern Ireland alone.
Rangers beat Sporting in 1972, and beat Moscow Dynamo in the final.
Rangers beat Sporting in 2008, and lost to Zenit in the final.
So what are the chances of Rangers getting to the final in Dublin and facing another Russian side?
Each game against the smelly mob just seems to get more important in the race for the domestic treble.
Tomorrow is no different.
League matches are so much more important and tomorrow is by far the biggest Old Firm derby of the season. Remember, we still have another THREE to go including a Cup Final in March at Hampden!
The last two performances against Celtic have been far from acceptable and it's vital that we go to the San Giro and dominate the game early on. In the 2-2 game in particular, Ki and Kayal were given far too much space in midfield, and to be fair, both are players who will control a game if you don't put them under pressure.
Steven Naismith, Nikica Jelavic and David Healy were all on the scoresheet for the champions who produced, arguably, one of their most impressive performances of the season. Walter Smith decided to hand on-loan Arsenal youngster Kyle Bartley in midfield alongside Steven Davis with Mo Edu and Jamie Ness dropping out.
Nikica Jelavic netted a hat-trick as Rangers hammered Motherwell in a 6-0 victory at Ibrox this afternoon.
It was much improved from Rangers after last week's performance against Celtic and some of the football today was an absolute joy to watch. At the heart of it, Steven Davis was like his old-self and kept everything ticking along in the middle of the park while Kyle Bartley was able to dominate that area of the pitch. There is such a difference around Ibrox when the team plays with pace and loads of movement and that was exactly what we got today. Well worth watching in my opinion.
Steven Naismith, in a central-midfield role today, popped up to score the opening goal on five minutes when he latched on to Vladimir Weiss' low cross and finished well with his right-foot. El-Hadji Diouf almost opened his Rangers account when he was sent through on goal by Weiss but Diouf was just inches away from collecting the pass. The good tempo and intensity from Rangers was continued for a decent spell of the first-half and Jelavic came close for the first time when his shot went just past the post.
It takes a while to digest the mayhem of an Old Firm tie and this one was no different - except it was actually a half-decent game for once!
Pre-match, it was a fantastic atmosphere and everything up until 5-10 minutes into the game seemed like a blur. Jamie Ness rattled home a stunning left-foot strike from long-range which I didn't even see hit the back of the net from my vantage point, instead, I got an arm around the throat to start off crazy celebrations. A bouncy in the 2nd minute of an Old Firm game - could it get any better?
In fact, it was a seriously embarrassing performance for a good 45-60 minutes of the match.
It's that time again in Scottish Football. The Old Firm derby has come around for the third time this season with this clash coming in the 5th Round of the Scottish Cup.
It could be the third of potentially SEVEN meetings between the two this season.
But it does not make it less important.
This time round, the confidence is coming from the green-quarter of Glasgow with Celtic fans believing that they will leave Ibrox with another victory. That opinion tends to be shared by the majority of Scotland's pathetic "pundits" and "experts" who have hardly offered any insight into how Celtic are their choice for this game except for the usual tag of playing such 'wonderful, expansive, Barcelona-style football'. We've heard it all before.
The other three-quarters of Glasgow are quietly looking forward to this game and snatching the bragging rights following the debacle of January 2nd. Something which has been pretty much ignored is that the best striker in Scotland by an absolute country mile is back in for Rangers this weekend to make his Old Firm debut.
If Jelavic had been fit on the 2nd, it would have been an entirely different story.
We are in stronger position to the start of the month despite losing three players and bringing in three during the window. Senegalese International El-Hadji Diouf joined the club on loan from Blackburn and all eyes will be on the new signing come Sunday.
You better believe it, Brown, Kayal, Ledley and Stokes will be doing their best to make Diouf lose his temper.
Jelavic made his return to first-team action in the second half of Tuesday's 1-0 win over Inverness Caley and forged an excellent partnership with John Fleck in attack. The Croatian International's class was clear for all to see in the 31 minutes he spent on the pitch and gave the Caley defenders a torrid time.
I was a bit of a 'Daniel Cousin fanboy' at times when he was at Ibrox. He was a terrific footballer on his day and had pretty much the full package: pace, strength and an eye for goal.
However, Jelavic is on another planet for me.
Jelavic has the pace, strength, great touch, movement and an eye for goal. But he has an excellent attitude and desire for the game. It seems to be a part of the 'Balkan genes' as most of them seem to treat every game like it is their last - excluding Dragan Mladenovic!
So the new SPL Season is well underway for Champions Rangers; performances in the creative sense may not be on par with any brand of ‘sexy football’ thus far however goals have been hitting the back of the net and points mean prize at the end of the campaign after all.
Walter Smiths side may have taken their time to cross over the finish line in recent weeks but the SPL Title was retained by Rangers thanks to a player who has hit some excellent form in the tail end of the season; much maligned since his move to Rangers by the press, ex-players, pundits and fans alike et al but it was the Kyle Lafferty who had the final laugh this season and the big Ulsterman won the title for Rangers with his impressive 17th minute strike in the 1 – 0 away win at Hibs.
The SPL Champions have been stuttering a tad in the last few weeks as they bid to get over the finish line for a second successive league championship. Form and results have been a mix of Good, Bad and Ugly but things were put back on track today at Ibrox with a heartwarming second half display in the 2 – 0 victory over Jim Jeffries Hearts side.
As per this encounter took shape of the archetypal blueprint for any match between the Old Firm; ninety minutes of passion and pace, oh and throw in four yellow cards (not bad when one compares it to previous battles), one red and some hotly debated refereeing decisions but we all knew that was coming even before the match had kicked off!
It’s been a busy few weeks for the SPL Champions which have included four games across two national cup competitions and two league encounters all of which has kept Rangers in the hunt for a possible domestic treble come May.
The latter two fixtures have caused some controversy but it wouldn’t be Scottish football without a bit of controversy linked in with some ‘green paranoia’ and supposed ‘blue bias’ now would it?
Both management and fans will be pleased to see a decent run of league results of late considering the number of key injuries which are still affecting the first team; namely Kenny Miller, Kris Boyd, DaMarcus Beasley and Mo Edu.
Helping pave the way for this recent good form and results have been some of the young guns at Ibrox, namely trio Andrew Little, Danny Wilson and John Fleck who all continue to cement their rising reputations by stepping up to the plate and showing a real contribution on the park; particularly striker Andrew Little who bagged his first goal for the club and spared Rangers blushes against 10man Hearts at Ibrox.
It seems as if all Glasgow Rangers have been doing of late is playing against Hamilton Accies and losing players to injury…
The sequential run of matches against the Lanarkshire side may have felt like a series of Hollywood films but sadly this particular Trilogy lacked ‘epic’ performances on the park from the SPL Champions and I doubt very much we’ll be seeing a DVD compilation of parts I, II and III being launched in the club shop at Ibrox any time soon.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh, what fun it is to 'see your team score six goals in one game'
In a 'one-team led game'...
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way!
Ibrox was full of festive cheer yesterday as Rangers thrashed Motherwell 6 – 1 thanks to doubles from Kenny Miller and Kyle Lafferty with Kris Boyd and DaMarcus Beasley chipping in a goal apiece to complete the rout in front of a delighted home support.
A flurry of seasonal festive football cheer and some disgruntle over at Ibrox in the past few weeks including some movement in the injuries department which includes me! Sadly I don’t have the luxury of checking in at the treatment table at Murray Park but thankfully my Osteopath is working overtime in a bid to correct my painful state of being sciatica-ally challenged.
Hopefully I will be back in contention for a first team place very soon, well maybe not but back playing five a side would be a great start.
The defeat on Tuesday signaled the end of any hope of making the last 16 of the Champions League and now the fall back of a place in the Europa Cup is gone too. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that Rangers are out of Europe altogether as the performance on Tuesday night was simply appalling and I don’t think the fans can stomach much more this.
It was back to SPL business this weekend after the recent break for the third set of international fixtures of the season and Rangers showed no signs of international hangovers (for Madjid Bougherra that may not have been the case!) as they cruised to a 3 – 0 home win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon.
It was none other than striker Kris Boyd who opened the scoring for the SPL Champions bagging his 8th goal of the season. It’s such goal scoring form that is strengthening his case for a re-call to the national squad now that George ‘Bungling’ Burley is thankfully no longer in charge of the Scottish national team.
The final nail in the coffin came as Burley’s Scotland side sank to an embarrassing 3 – 0 defeat to what was a Wales ‘young team’, as we Glaswegians say, on Saturday at Cardiff City Stadium.
Now I’m not the type to take any sort of pleasure in another human beings downfall but being a long suffering Scotland fan I’m sure the footballing gods will forgive me in this instance. I called for Burley’s head back in September as Scotland failed to make the World Cup Play-Offs, he was tasked with qualifying Scotland to second position in the Group 9 and failed spectacularly with 4 defeats, 3 wins and a draw.
Scotland’s 2010 World Cup qualification dream died on the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year and crucially nine minutes from fulltime when Dutch winger Eljero Elia hit the back of the net for the visitors to seal Scotland’s fate.
Chances galore in both halves for Scotland but all sadly to no avail. Four first team Rangers players made manager George Burleys starting eleven; Captain Davie Weir, defender Steven Whittaker, forwards Kenny Miller and Stevie Naismith (a late call up to the squad after the Macedonia game) who was in for the suspended James McFadden.
It was announced yesterday (26 Aug 2009) that Sir David Murray is stepping down from his role at Rangers both as Chairman and Board Director. Sound familiar? He of course stepped down before back in 2002 but quickly put himself back at the helm within two years of walking away last time.
However, I genuinely believe we won’t be seeing a hat trick of returns from Murray as he has openly admitted that he is willing to relinquish his majority shareholding in the club providing its in the best interests of taking Rangers forward. How many a fan must be waiting with baited breath for a money laden Arab led consortium to come knocking at the Ibrox door.
Douglas Cameron is a football fan. His own particular afflictions are Rangers and Scotland. He is not a member of any official fan group and writes only for ESPN. He is not seeking to further a journalistic career but instead has taken up his therapist's suggestion he finds an outlet for his rantings.