Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rangers v Sevilla: Preview

Having seen the less than glorious impact that washing the dirty strips in public had on Celtic's European campaign you might have thought that Rangers would have had more sense than to do the same.

Not a bit of it. New chairman Alistair Johnston faced the press for the first time yesterday and seemed to leave a number of questions lingering unanswered as the debate rages as to the extent of the Rangers crisis.

Against this backdrop Walter Smith appeared to issue an ultimatum about his future. The suggestion had been that Smith would refuse to sign an extension in January. He now seems to be saying that is not the case (going as far as to blame the rumour on his wife) but demanding answers to financial questions before he commits.

The good news is that Alistair Johnston promised Rangers won't do a Leeds United. The bad news is that Rangers fans will now be wondering how close that prospect actually is.

How bad are things? Worse, I think, than many might realise. For someone as long in the tooth as Walter Smith to cause a fuss like this in the week of a European game points to a club rife with problems.

Strange times for sure, but there's a game on tonight.

You would think there's about as much chance of Rangers getting the better of Sevilla as there was of Hawick Royal Albert beating Huntly at the weekend.

But you would probably have written Rangers off at half time in Stuttgart and they came home with a point.

Since then they have been dire. Really bad. There best player is a centre half. No shame in that. Except that Bougherra also appears to be their most potent attacking force.

Form is temporary of course. This might just be a blip that has been blown out of proportion by the ongoing financial storm blowing off the field. It all adds up to Rangers being massive underdogs tonight.

They will play the tried and trusted European formula. The big surprise is the inclusion of Stephen Naismith as the lone forward - a move that signals Kris Boyd's demotion to third choice on European nights. It will be back to the walls stuff.

Can I see any hope for Rangers tonight. No. Sevilla will be the best team they play this year. Walter Smith has shocked us at Ibrox before. Tonight, his team out of sorts and his club in turmoil, will be a surprise too far.

A long night, then, for the less than capacity crowd. They can, perhaps, amuse themselves by scanning the stands for any benevolent billionaires who might just have wandered in to Govan for the night.