In the end, Derek McInnes just wasn't ready for the concomitant risk that comes with…
Football is a fickle sport and fans can turn from a good moment to potential disaster in a heartbeat. Each and every group of supporters are the same, but it is Rangers’ own following that may unfortunately come to represent this over the coming month.
Hot off the heels of an impressive result at Celtic Park, the Ibrox faithful have quickly been forced to turn their attentions to the January transfer window. For although it could bring further adoration for their club, it may also pile on an already troublesome amount of frustration.
The January transfer window could underline the success or complete ineptitude of this current Rangers board. In fact, it almost certainly will.
For the most part, Dave King & Company have done a decent enough job at Rangers. They’ve put a reasonable amount of money into the club to date, Ibrox has been relatively spruced up over the past 12 months and there’s no denying that the utter mayhem of what came before them seems to be gone. However, there are still problems.
Perhaps most notably and crucially is the manner in which this current Rangers board have routinely failed the club when it has come to recruitment of any kind. The relative failure of Mark Warburton was followed by the baffling fiasco of Pedro Caixinha, who then proceeded a truly embarrassing pursuit of Derek McInnes.
Whether or not Rangers fans were particularly fond or excited about the prospect of nabbing the most crucial cog to Aberdeen’s machine, there’s no denying that the manner in which King’s board tried and then failed to bring McInnes to Ibrox – and the preceding statements intended to shift the blame – have completely overshadowed any good work that may have been done at Ibrox over the past few months. This month could only add to that sense of failure.
For Rangers to start the new year with an interim-turned-permanent coach in Graeme Murty is hardly ideal for any supporter, but that situation is only underlined by the Ibrox side’s rivals doubling down on their commitments to push on with or without them.
Aberdeen’s re-signing of Niall McGinn was a pragmatic move from McInnes’ team, which should add (or return) a vast improvement to one of the Don’s few problem areas this season. If the Pittodrie side were already doing a reasonable job in this current campaign then they’ll almost surely be looking to step up a gear with their favoured talisman back on the wings.
Similarly, Celtic’s efficient signing of St Mirren’s Lewis Morgan and a potential deal for Jack Hendry of Dundee won’t have an immediate effect on the distance between the two Glasgow rivals, but both are transfers that should only add further resentment to Rangers’ complete inaction in this field.
Fans aren’t expecting Mark Allen, the club’s director of football, to outsmart or outbid Celtic, but there is a huge amount of young talent in the Premiership and Championship that should be readily available to Rangers. If fans can note with some clarity just how much anguish the likes of Chris Cadden, Jordan Jones and Greg Docherty cause their own team, why can’t the powers that be act upon it?
Sure, Ryan Jack is perhaps an example of the board doing just that, and Kenny McLean may be added to the ranks in the summer, but a lot more is needed. And to most it seems as though the task at hand isn’t even that strenuous. Signing the best and brightest Scottish football has to offer should be the bread and butter of any Rangers long-term strategy, yet for the most part it continues to elude this current administration.
The other side of recruitment is holding on to your best players and that’s another aspect of running a club that this board have struggled to nail down. Michael O’Halloran may split opinion among fans, but the manner in which he’s been completely underused and loaned out to St Johnstone, despite clearly thriving at the Premiership level, is undoubtedly a little odd. Similarly, Barry McKay’s sale for a minimal fee to Nottingham Forest did very little to ensure confidence.
Yet further anguish may still await. Josh Windass has arguably been Rangers’ most improved player this season, however fans may be forced to wave goodbye to him this month, with Preston reportedly interested in making a bid. Unless the Championship club plan to match the reported £3.5 million release clause in the forward’s contract, there really should be no reason for Rangers to sell. However, we await to see if short-term financial gains will outweigh the long-term effect Windass’ departure would have on this already fragile side.
Today the club confirmed the signing of QPR midfielder, Sean Goss, on loan, while the papers are convinced Scotland international Russell Martin is set to join in a bid to sure up Murty’s leaky defence. Burnley’s Jamie Murphy is almost certainly set to join in the coming days too. However, none of these deals will do much to dispel the clear notion that this Rangers board should be doing much better.
Actions speak far louder than bizarre club statements and January should prove just how competent this board are to Rangers and their fans.