Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fight Club

Anyone wondering why Richard Gough’s managerial career has stalled somewhat can sleep easy. He’s not carved a career in the noughties because he subscribes to a brand of football that became outdated in the 1970’s.
In my time at Ibrox we had a core of very strong characters. Mentally, we were very strong and I think that’s why we had so many bust-ups. There was Mark Hateley, Ally McCoist, Andy Goram, John Brown, Stuart McCall and Ian Ferguson – a lot of nasty people, in the best possible way. I think that’s what Rangers are missing right now: a few nasty pieces of work.

I read a quote after the Stuttgart game that I would have stuck up on the wall. Aleksandr Hleb was their best player and came off the park saying he didn’t have a scratch on him.

I know the game has changed in terms of referees clamping down on physical stuff but when he comes out and actually says he expected a rough, tough physical game and didn’t get one then that should stick in the defenders’ minds. That should be an alarm bell, a light going on in the head of their defenders. When I was defending, I would say that if people are going to come into our area of the pitch then they’re going to get hurt and we’ll see how brave they are. That was our job. If they wanted to come into our penalty box, they were going to find tough people. I feel that’s not happening now.
Right, well that’s cleared that up. If only Rangers had kicked Aleksandr Hleb they’d have survived in Europe. Sometimes football is such a simple game it amazes you.

Not as simple as that, Dickie. The players you mention would probably have been able to get near enough to Hleb to kick him. Some in the current Rangers team aren’t good enough to get that close.

Unlike, say, a Ferguson, they’re not even good enough to be that kind of destroyer.

Also, and I’m sorry to point this out, but the merry band of mercenaries that Gough mentions did not exactly set Europe alight, apart from that one season when they almost snatched a place in the Champion’s League final.

If there’s the old way and the new way, Rangers better hope for a third way quite soon.

All of this was by way of excusing the training ground fracas between Kenny Miller and Madjid Bougherra. Happened all the time in Gough’s day apparently. And it has happened elsewhere over the years as well.

There are differences though. It all depends on circumstances. In a winning team a training round fight can simply be an expression of a desire to retain a competitive edge, even to drive others around you on to greater things.

A training round fight in the aftermath of a European exit between a player who has just been dropped for turning up late and another who has publicly berated said player for turning up late might be a sign of slightly greater dressing room unrest.

Gough continued:
I don’t want to go on about it too much but I feel there is a dearth of quality. At the Stuttgart game last week even the crowd weren’t their usual selves. They weren’t getting on the team’s back because they maybe realised that it simply wasn’t there.

It was a strange atmosphere at Ibrox that night, like the fans were simply accepting that’s where we are.
Hmmm. "I don’t want to go on about it too much."

Richard, I think Walter Smith would concur heartily with that.