Green's Shoots of Recovery Undermined By Poor Performances

There was a very poignant moment at the recent home match with Montrose, out with the lone piper lament for Rab Learmonth, the fan who tragically died at Ibrox Stadium recently.

With around 15 minutes remaining, supporters in the Broomloan unveiled a banner which read:

‘Carry our noise with the badge on your breast. Give them Hell at Tannadice’.

It received a round of applause as fans united in belief that our opponents the following week had taken far too much pleasure from our woes, and that the football park was the best place to settle these issues. It should have served as a reminder to the players just how significant this fixture was to every single Rangers supporter. We have shown up in huge numbers since the fall from grace, the match against Dundee Utd represented an opportunity for the players to repay that loyalty.

Alas the banner couldn’t even inspire a win on the day as, in the 89th minute, David Gray lashed home a Montrose equaliser and our romantic notion of footballing justice being served up the following week was given a harsh dose footballing reality. Tannadice could indeed represent hell, but not for the home side.

That fear was borne out by the humiliating result at Tannadice where we could not even withstand the first attempt on our goal after fifteen seconds. From then on in it looked like a lost cause and some serious questions now need to be asked about the footballing direction of the club, if McCoist is up to the job and how long Charles Green will settle for the mediocrity currently being served up.

There can be no sugar-coating of this simple fact: Rangers have been awful more times than not this season. Sure we are streets ahead in terms of points, but the performances have been well below par and the humiliation on Saturday showed that Rangers, with the second highest wage bill in the country, are a far from justifying that level of financial output on the park.

I had expected to see a Rangers side get their teeth in about the job at hand and demolish teams this season. But as yet that has rarely happened. Instead it has been one substandard performance after another, with scrappy wins and occasionally being on the receiving end of more than one embarrassing black eye.

Questions must now surface about McCoist’s ability to do the job. Despite many below-par performances there has rarely, if ever, been a reaction. It is as if lessons are not being learned. Instead we under-perform, take flak for it, then go out the following week and put in a similar performance.

Some have questioned McCoist’s tactics, but frankly I’m of the belief that our players are so superior to the rest in the Third Division, or should be, that tactics should not have too much of bearing on games. We have better players who are full-time professionals, playing against inferior part-timers. Fitness alone should see us slaying teams.

The most worrying aspect of McCoist’s tenure to date has been his signings. Last season we saw the likes of Juan Manuel Ortiz, Matt McKay, Alejandro Bedoya and Mervan Çelik come and go at Ibrox. This season has not been much better with the likes of Emilson Cribari, Sebastien Faure & Anestis Argyriou looking as if the part-time league of the Scottish Third Division is above their capability.

Every single one of these foreign signings point to a huge issue with the scouting system at Ibrox that needs addressed – and quickly.

Equally as worrying have been the performances of the big-name players. Dean Shiels, Ian Black, Francisco Sandaza and David Templeton have been huge disappointments since joining the club.

Ian Black, for instance, has resembled a man who thinks that this move represents a move away from his strife at Hearts of not knowing if he’s getting paid one week to the next, to a secure, highly paid gig that means the painter and decorator overalls can stay in the cupboard for the foreseeable. His performances and attitude have been far below what is required at Rangers. His red card and antics on Saturday at the corner flag compounded the misery and embarrassment on the day.

Dean Shiels continues to be a source of frustration. Floating in and out of games with little hint that he be about to produce something, without it ever really coming to anything. Again, he has to do better.

Francisco Sandaza looks more and more like he’ll be a player who leaves Ibrox without having made any impact. His performances continue to head in the wrong direction and his finishing is sloppy and erratic, a fact borne out by his paltry goal return this season.

David Templeton has chipped in with goals, and his return from injury seemed to galvanise the side just before Christmas. Recently, however, he has been a shadow of the player we know he can be. His decision making has left a lot to be desired at times and his persistent habit of giving away possession needlessly was brutally exposed at Tannadice on Saturday.

The contribution of all of McCoist’s summer signings can be put under serious scrutiny-none have really produced.

Instead Rangers have relied on stalwarts who were already at Ibrox like Lee McCulloch, Andrew Little, Lee Wallace and Kyle Hutton, and youngsters like Lewis McLeod, Barrie McKay and Robbie Crawford. That situation needs addressing.

There is also the issue of Charles Green and how long he accepts the current situation. His ability to court the media and travel the world telling everyone he cares to bump into just how great a footballing institution Rangers is becomes hollow sounding when performances and results on the park don’t match the boasts. Rangers, on the park, are way off course and the longer it remains that way the more Green is undermined in his many statements in the media.

McCoist, however, may yet still prove to be the man. He is no stranger to not convincing the Ibrox faithful of his wares. His early days as a players were beset with poor form and doubts about his ability. He went on to become arguably the greatest player the club has had. So McCoist’s ability to turn things around should not be underestimated as he is as determined a character as you’ll ever come across. But he needs results and performances soon.

As far as lows go, the current one pales into insignificance compared with the events of the last year. But underwhelming performances on the park and murmurs of strained relations in the boardroom are making our return to the top a more uncomfortable journey than it should be. Some very well paid players need to realise that what they’ve served up so far is simply not good enough, and that they carry not only our noise with the badge on their breast–but our footballing hopes and dreams too.

Colin Armstrong is a former columnist for the Rangers News and match-day programme. He has also written for When Saturday Comes and contributed to the book Ten Days that Shook Rangers. Follow Colin on Twitter: @moonman1873

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