Amidst the talk of surprise at how much the Ibrox club has been allowed to spend in this window is one incontrovertible truth; we should not be surprised at all. They are very adept at risking their own future over there, and the better their financial position is the more they are willing to take chances with the club. Which is madness when you think about it.
Their current financial position, where they believe they can “afford” to spend like this is the product of three bits of incredible luck. The first is reaching the Europa League final. The second was edging out a lacklustre PSV last season to reach the Champions League groups. The third is even more remarkable than that, the sale of Calvin Bassey to Ajax.
There is not another extended European run in their future; last season their limitations were exposed in brutal fashion by their Champions League annihilation. If they get through their third round qualifier they will probably face either PSV again or Marseille. Either side, if they are on their game, should be too much for Ibrox over two legs. Whilst that can’t and won’t be taken for granted, I fancy both sides to have enough to get the job done.
The Bassey sale will not be repeated in this window, or perhaps for a long time to come. Those three events stabilised their current position to the point where they believe they had sufficient funds to let this manager spend, and whilst they are desperate to flog anyone they can to fund this madness they probably think they can ride it out if they don’t.
The low value of their squad is obvious to even the most blinkered observer, and I don’t see much hope that there’s anyone there who would command a Bassey style fee next summer. So they are gambling, primarily on reaching the Groups this season … but also on winning the title. It would seem crazy except for one thing; they’ve done it before.
And they did it, most particularly, whilst Gerrard was at the club and The Mooch was his second in command. If you want to judge his eye for a player consider this; the stalwarts of their team these past few seasons were the very guys Gerrard and The Mooch played no role in bringing to the club. That should have had alarm bells ringing for their fans when they unveiled this guy as boss … more importantly, it should have rung alarm bells in the boardroom amongst those who were opposed to giving him the job in the first place.
What did he say when Ross Wilson left? He felt he had “lost a good ally.” Not everyone at Ibrox is convinced by this guy … and still they’ve let him spend whatever was in the kitty, and all for what? To keep the pace with Celtic, as if it hasn’t dawned on that club yet that it cannot keep the pace with Celtic except by spending what it hasn’t got.
And the difficulty with that, of course, is that you are literally robbing the future to pay for today. You are living it large knowing that somewhere down the line there will be consequences for that. Those consequences will be especially acute if this guy turns out to be a busted flush, if this team ends up in the same state as the ones he and Gerrard built.
Those teams cost their club a fortune, and now this team threatens to do the same. What’s that old expression? Those who will not learn from history are destined to repeat it. And we know that one Ibrox club has already circled the drain and swirled down the plughole. There are times when this one seems almost hell-bent on following them down to that fate.