Fear And Loathing At Hampden: The Mooch Flounders And His Club Spirals Into Crisis.

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At full time yesterday at Hampden, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst would have been forgiven for laughing out loud.

For all the criticism that was sent his way in the lead up to, and eventual aftermath, of his sacking that man had things to boast about and one of them was the domestic trophy he left behind, having beaten Celtic at that very ground in that same competition just a year ago.

From the moment he stole Van Bronckhorst’s job, The Mooch has gotten away with talking the worst kind of rot only because the faint possibility remained that he could, at least, emulate the man’s achievement by defending the trophy he won. He had already lost the chance to win his own first honour. Yesterday was all he had left.

It does not matter how the media tries to spin this; every word that came out of his mouth yesterday at full-time was like running the white flag up the pole. It was an admission of defeat, an admission that he had come up short.

From the moment he arrived at Ibrox, he was telling us all that Ange was lucky, lucky in the main that he hadn’t been facing him this whole time. Their squad, he said, was the equal of ours, comprised of superior talents. Now the whole thing needs to be ripped out by the roots and the entire structure of it rebuilt?

How long ago was it that he said clubs shouldn’t do that?

That this was, in fact, why Van Bronckhorst had “failed”?

That man was sacked for dropping 12 points in the league and a bad run in Europe. The Mooch has dropped eight points in the league and has lost to Celtic twice in the cups. He has managed four games against us and lost three and drew the other.

He talked yesterday, again, of basic defensive mistakes as if it’s not his job to coach his players properly and instil the correct discipline in them. He sounds, in fact, a lot like Lennon used to; he can identify the problem but not the solution for it.

He comes with a lot of hype, this guy, and he got off to a decent Ibrox start. But he got off to a good start at QPR too. By the time he left, the form had nosedived and there are already signs that the form at Ibrox is dipping as the season comes to a close.

Teams figure out one dimensional managers soon enough, and if you’ve watched them this season then you’ll know that’s really all they are. Their brand of “brute force football” works with certain teams who can’t seem to crack it. But when a guy like Barry Robson, ten minutes in his job, can work out how to beat them then anyone can.

Ange definitely has him figured out. He is entitled to take a bow.

At Ibrox we needed a late goal to rescue a draw. In the aftermath of that game, everyone congratulated The Mooch and some even suggested that he had our manager’s number. Three defeats later, its clear who learned most from that afternoon.

It is not the words of blogs or on the Ibrox fan forums which are going to hang this guy. The words that will hang him have already come out of his own mouth. They will be remembered, and saved, and rammed back down his throat as he continues to flounder.

So what is the size of the challenge facing him? Well it’s bigger, far bigger, than anyone inside Ibrox thought that it would be. And he’s started already, making big promises which he may not realistically be able to keep to the fans.

Let’s start with that. He’s pledged to spend £5 million on Tillman. That was crazy back when he only thought he would need two or three players. Now he’s replacing people in virtually every position, the most important of which is up front where you’d now think they need at least two new strikers with Morelos for the off and Colak wherever he is.

That’s where you’d think big money would need spending. But the trouble doesn’t stop there for him, or for their club. He’s looking at a keeper, a defensive rebuild and at least one winger. I say at least one because if Lawrence isn’t fit (which he’s not) and Hagi is being touted for sale that leaves Sakala and Motondo. Neither of them is up to much.

A smarter manager would ditch the pursuit of Tillman, but he’s actually staked his reputation on that signing in so publicly prioritising it. If the player isn’t delivered now people will assume that the board don’t have confidence in him.

The insanity of what he’s pursuing can be seen in offering a goalkeeper whose only played a handful of games in the past three years a fortune to replace McGregor. It’s implicit in offering the Norwich midfielder a contract when he’s currently out with a knee ligament injury, one of the worst ailments a footballer can have, and offering no certainty of a good return.

Over on their forums, the very idea of a signing like that fills their fans with deep dismay. They are already starting to wonder if the Grand Plan is going to be all that inspired. They know this manager will need money to do the job right and doubt he’ll get it if this is the standard he’s going after. They are right to be concerned by that.

Yesterday, at full time, you could see the fear on his face. The loathing sweeps the forums in all directions. He’s getting some of it, the players are taking a share and the board even more so. Reports from around Hampden yesterday tell of Ibrox fans punching lumps out of each other, so there’s plenty of loathing to go round.

Celtic is so confident of winning at Ibrox, or at least unconcerned enough about that game, that Carter Vickers has been allowed to go off and get his knee seen to. We will see what the injury situation with the kid Johnston is soon enough; he made his debut at that ground and will have no fears about returning, but Ralston reminded us of how far he’s come too.

And this is the thing with Ange that he doesn’t get enough credit for when clowns like The Village Idiot are squealing about budgets.

Ange has made players better. The improvements in Ralston and Taylor are obvious enough, but who knew McGregor was capable of turning into a midfield battler on the same level as Brown was? Who knew that he could bring in guys who none of us had heard of and slot them into the jigsaw so perfectly you’d think they’d been here for years?

The signings have been inspired, and he’s spent big money … but this team is obviously better this season than last, and you can see that part of that is the steady improvements even in the players he’s brought here.

Tell me, honestly, whether you think The Mooch has done the same?

He certainly doesn’t believe it, which is why he’s now talking about ripping it up and starting again.

Fear and loathing then, and a tough summer to come.

A summer which the board must be dreading.

That’s why they leaked the Kieran Dowell thing to the media yesterday, to soften the blow of any defeat, to give the fans the belief that answers and changes are just around the corner.

It’s an old Ibrox trick, designed to separate fans from their money.

And those fans know it. But some of them have twigged to the uncomfortable truth that if they don’t step up then the slim chance of the manager getting much to spend becomes no chance at all.

One way or another, the cash for this will be coming from them.

They aren’t used to that. No wonder they are angry.

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  • JimBhoy says:

    Good read.

    Johnston’s injury looked fairly innocuous hope we have him back for the weekend. We will miss big CCV, we have able cover there.

    Rangers on the other hand had a couple of players who may not see the run in and Kent and Morelos are not interested.

    We’ll be hearing the success stories as they have some rangers players extend their contracts for another year. When they really need a clearout, the fans know that but unfortunately there is no money to fund that sort of turnover.

  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    “The Kieran Dowell thing …” has John Souttar written all over it. The boy has knee ligament damage. It’s one of the worst injuries a footballer can have. Him and Roofe will be fighting over access to the treatment table all next season.

    • Benjamin says:

      100%. If they’re going to shop in the English market with the budget they have, they’re essentially competing for League 1 players. If they want better than that, they have to sign damaged goods – players that no other club will go near, whether that’s due to a major injury (Dowell) or due to perceived attitude issues (Cantwell).

      Early prediction is that this blows up in their face and Aberdeen gives them a good race for 2nd place next season.

  • Benjamin says:

    James, I don’t think we’re so confident of beating them at Ibrox. I think Ange has rightly concluded that the game at Ibrox is irrelevant in terms of this season, and that the first game of next season in August is far more important. If players need surgery, the time to get any issues taken care of is now. What remains of the squad should be able to to win 1/5 games remaining and also see off Inverness in the cup final. The important thing is that the squad is at 100% for the start of next season and that any lingering injuries don’t carryover.

  • Eire goCeltic says:

    Actually some of the Rangers biased opinion leaders, have suddenly
    followed Kris Boyd “up the high road”. The vista of the “vision splendid”
    has evaporated.

  • Bob (original) says:

    At the next training session at Auchenhowie,

    Beale the brilliant coach

    will start by telling his Ibrox superstars:

    “Lads, you play to the referee’s whistle. You don’t stop to wait for the whistle…”

    (As every kid learned when playing for the primary school football team! 🙂 )

  • John S says:

    Their season hinged on this game. Next season Aberdeen will overtake them.

  • Peter kane says:

    Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds, still deluded enough to think they are a big team , truth is, they are run on interest free loans that get converted into shares , and the thicko on the street pays for the shysters providing them ! 3 share issues of confetti in the space of a few months ??

  • Peter kane says:

    Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds, still deluded enough to think they are a big team , truth is, they are run on interest free loans that get converted into shares , and the thicko on the street pays for the shysters providing them ! 3 share issues of confetti in the space of a few months ??

  • Brian Cavanagh says:

    James wish you would drop the obsession with their manager – it gives him too much power and makes sound like a threat.

    Ang has been a fantastic manager to date – the best since Jock Stein I am old enough to remember that legend-however I am concerned that we have struggled to have commanding performances against Rangers in the last four outings- I think that is where you should be focusing and would be interested in your analysis as to why this has been the case.

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