Since Van Bronckhorst was sacked, and as the phony war has raged, the fans across the city have been able to rely on a certain level of reality-denial and I’m not just talking about on the pitch. There, at least, they are four wins from four under the new boss. They have not been brilliant, but they have managed to pick up the points.
Tonight their fans are enraged over Police Scotland denying them a tifo. As if that really matters in the grand scheme of things. I had to laugh at their “official media partner” griping that they “know” it would not have happened to us.
Except that it did, when we were denied one for the Scottish Cup semi-final. It’s not the only time last season the police vetoed one.
The Ibrox fans always find something to enrage them, and it is nearly always something stupid and worthless and inconsequential like this. You would think that theirs was a club sailing on smooth and calm seas right now instead of heading into choppy waters, but 2023 is going to be a long chaotic nightmare for them if goes the way it looks like.
Even subtracting from our almost certain march to another title – our eleventh in twelve years – what looms in front of them is a world of hurt. Their AGM should have been a day for hard questions and putting the board under pressure; they were bought off by the appointment of a rabble rousing chancer with no loyalty to anyone but himself.
They were mugs for letting that distract them. There are too many things wrong at that club for the appointment of a manager to fix them. There are issues over their whole football strategy which a guy with his level of experience is not remotely qualified to sort out, but even if he was a managerial genius any boss is only as good as the players he can put out on the park … and he has to do a full-scale rebuild this summer on limited funds.
Ibrox fans have allowed themselves to be lulled by his prideful talk and his arrogant drum banging. But their problems won’t go away just because this fantasist insists on not facing up to them. He has to know that his side were fortunate in at least two of their four matches thus far … the Aberdeen game was an absolute travesty from the home team in that late spell where they conceded an equaliser in time added on and couldn’t even hang onto a point.
Yet he has strutted and preened over those results and performances as if they have vindicated him as a tactical genius, instead of showing up the managers who could not deprive him of points. That he has become reliant on Morelos for goals should worry him, and it should worry the supporters, as he’s not going to be around for much longer and every game he plays now advertises to outsiders what he might be able to do if he was focussed and fit.
This guy is already responsible for any number of strategic and tactical blunders, the off-field ones, the ones that start to matter most over the long haul. But it’s nothing compared to the lunacy and incompetence which has reigned off the field, in the boardroom, where they continue to find themselves the subject of legal proceedings more often than a rational organisation should, and where they flirt with disaster at every turn.
Their recruitment is a shambles. One of the most damning indictments of Celtic in the last year of Lawwell’s reign as CEO was the almighty mess we were allowed to get into with three high profile players entering the final year of their deals … Ange sorted that out and sold them or there would have been no transfer budget for the rebuild.
Yet the Ibrox board allowed the summer window to come and go without doing the same … pure lunacy, for which The Mooch will ultimately pay the highest price.
If they cannot get premium prices for those players this winter there goes a big chunk of the transfer budget necessary to replace them. And if that’s not available to them then their only option is to squeeze the fans for more cash.
Imagine that. Having to go to people who are already the most ripped off fans in Europe, during a cost of living crisis, and get more money out of them. That’s a doomed strategy and what’s worse is that they are already highly dependent on those fans for the bulk of their income at a time when, to be frank, people have bigger priorities than football.
This adds up to a difficult year ahead, one where there might be a lot more lows than highs, and so even if they do manage to pull something off tomorrow their fans should not think that suddenly all is well in the world. Because there are real problems over there and their club is in its most uncertain place since it crawled out of Rangers’ grave.
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