There is a thread on a Sevco fan forum which describes their situation as déjà vu. That’s pretty accurate. The profound identity crisis their club is locked in will produce things like that, problems like that. It will go on until they confront some unpleasant truths.
Other threads focus on the future of Pedro Caixinha. It’s not even 24 hours after the game yesterday, but I already know he’ll survive that defeat. My first impression of it was correct; he will soldier on, whereas a cup final rout at our hands might have killed him. Some of their fans are clinging on to the idea that bad refereeing cost them, but even those who accept that the manager is hopelessly out of his depth are split.
Some of them want to keep him until January. Others want rid of him right now but know the club doesn’t have the money to negotiate the end of his contract. This is a mess alright, but it’s a bigger one than any of them is ready to face up to.
There is one question that has hung over Ibrox like a virus cloud, since the club was born in 2012 from the wreckage of what was Rangers; the question is “… then what?”
Say Pedro goes tomorrow … then what?
Their fans will celebrate for a day, because the Portuguese crazy man has been sent back home. His pockets will be filled to the brim, but that won’t bother them in the moment. They will be happy enough with it. They will tease themselves about who the new manager will be … and that’s when the bubble will burst. That’s when a new reality will dawn.
See, they still haven’t grasped how they got here nor about what the consequences of the last few years will be. This isn’t sinking in, but eventually it has to.
When Celtic was on the lookout for a new manager we had a number of major structural advantages. We had a fantastic stadium, the best fans in the world, we had league titles and trophies and a shot at the Champions League. We had the cash not only to stay ahead of our rivals but to build towards something bigger, in Europe.
We were an attractive prospect. You can see why an up and coming boss would view us as a good job to take. We also had that added incentive for a man like Brendan, of being a club he understood and which was known throughout the game for certain characteristics which were very appealing. Even without his emotional connection to us, though, we would have been a tempting offer, one that was perhaps too great to turn down.
Stability is part of what made us enticing. Ronny didn’t last long, but most people recognised that his appointment hadn’t gone as planned. Before that, Neil enjoyed many good years at Celtic and other managers like Gordon and Martin stayed for extended spells.
We are not a club that has a habit of acting precipitously.
Sevco has none of those advantages. They are perennial strugglers. They have no money to spend. They were knocked out of Europe by a team from Luxembourg earlier in the season and so they will probably not see the Group stages of any competition for years. They have no title to defend. Their squad is filled with second rate players. Their reputation is non-existent and what exists of it is mired in scandal and disgrace; their current chairman is a crook.
More than any of that is this; they labour under enormous delusions and that results in the most atrocious pressure being placed on their managers. The support does not have expectations as much as non-negotiable demands. Progress there is measured against a wholly unrealistic standard; that of the one at Celtic Park, but worse, the one from a previous Ibrox operation.
I cannot say this enough times; the club they believed in never existed. It didn’t have the money it was spending. The whole thing was an illusion. They were funded by bank debt and then by tax fraud. It had been two decades since it played by the same rules as everyone else, yet those fans expected that a NewCo fresh in the world would be able to operate at that level and not only challenge us but actually overhaul us.
This is so stupid that it ought not to require pointing out. They have overspent to underachieve as they see it. Yet their accomplishments are entirely in line with a club with their size. They believe that high income guarantees success; actually when it goes hand in hand with high operational costs it doesn’t make them any more likely to succeed than a Motherwell or Hibs or Aberdeen. Forced to spend only what they earn, they are nowhere.
Rather than accept that, they try to be more, to aspire to something they can never hope to reach. This unrealistic level of expectation killed McCoist, ended the hopes of Stuart McCall, crushed Mark Warburton and have already trashed the reputation of Pedro Caixinha. All left the club under a cloud, all but the Portuguese and he will.
That’s four managers in five years. That’s not a managerial hot-seat, it’s an electric chair. No up and coming manager would touch that job with a 20-foot pole. It is a graveyard of ambition and will ruin many more careers before it’s done.
Equally, any experienced boss who knew what he was looking at would run a mile from the club. Who would want to go head-to-head with Celtic’s juggernaut on such pitiful resources? Managers from the UK only think they understand the club; walk through the doors and be spoon-fed all that supremacist guff and you might think everyone inside the walls was barking mad. It is a tainted job, and the taint spreads to everyone in it.
Rule out any manager of sufficient reputation to get a job working in England. They all have better options than taking on the shambles at Ibrox. Ambitious SPL bosses, like Wright and McInnes, can do better. They are probably at better clubs right now; the Aberdeen boss, in particular, knows what side his bread is buttered on and wouldn’t go near Sevco.
In all probability, that leaves only The Real Rangers Men, and there’s not a one of them who we ought to have anything to fear. None of their domestic names would be any better than the guy in the dugout right now. The De Boer’s won’t touch it because they aren’t actually stupid and although they pay lip service to the idea of being part of that family they were tourists at the club and don’t really have any emotional connection to it. Even if they did, they would need to work with low budgets. They aren’t managerial gurus so that would end in tears.
The full scale of this is still some ways from dawning on them.
They want the manager gone, but … then what?
Sacking Caixinha will change exactly nothing; the next boss will either be someone untested, and virtually unknown, or one of the usual suspects, someone attracted to the club’s name because of a past association with it. None of them will trouble us, and will be in a dogfight just to qualify for a European place before long.
They have no cash. They have no business plan. Without those things they can’t catch us and yet their fans expect miracles. When they are not forthcoming they demand blood. They will get what they want in this case, as they did when Warburton as dispatched. But it won’t alter the fundamentals. It will not make things better.
The future is pain. That’s all it is, until they lower their demands and start to live with what everyone else knows they are; a shadow of the club that was at Ibrox before, which itself was an artificial construct. They need to embrace reality.
I cannot think of anything that will hurt them more, in the short term. But the alternative is years and years of days like today, with no end in sight.
It’s great, isn’t it?