By The Govanhill Gub
Looking at the present shambles the club finds itself in it is impossible, well for me at any rate, to ignore the striking similarities between Gio and John Greig’s time as manager. In fact, it’s downright scary. In their first season in charge, or half a season in Gio’s case, both had remarkable results in Europe that papered over the cracks domestically.
Back then, as this year in Europe, it was a case of close but no cigar and losing the league but also the manner in which we did so was simply disastrous and would have far reaching implications.. There was a domestic bauble for Gio last May, and in JG’s case back then a cup double to reflect on but it was scant consolation for losing the title.
In both cases a myth had and has grown that both managers were/are tactically astute, adept and capable in the European arena. A by-product of this fanciful and wishful thinking is that both managers introduced a European approach and tactics, for want of a better word into games at home.
In short too much respect was, and in the present day is, being given to teams who don’t deserve it. To be fair to JG at least he was coming up against two managers at Pittodrie and Tannadice who would mould their respective clubs into formidable sides both at home and in Europe. Gio has no such excuses. In fact the way he sets his teams out is an affront to what we are all about. Or should be.
The following season (79/80) under John Greig ended up the biggest disaster in living memory for most of the support and basically JG’s managerial faults were slowly being laid bare for all to see. But the support stayed loyal and just couldn’t, just wouldn’t see what was openly staring us in the face.
Right now, I believe we are looking at a potential repeat of the shambles of that ‘second’ season, only this time it is unravelling and hurling at us at a different speed. And it’s a helluva lot quicker than our build up play. I stress this is purely a personal opinion and will eat all the amount of humble pie going should we recover.
Getting up to date, the excuses or justifications were already in place after Napoli at Ibrox. ‘Better commitment than the last two games’, ‘the red card changed everything’. No doubt there’s another classic already brewing, ‘If only Greegs had been in from the start of the season?’
Whilst the sentiments surrounding the Napoli encounter may well have a ring of truth to them, and I’m referring more specifically to the red card, the stats are there for all to see. In our CL section, deep down a great many of the support are already bracing themselves for the dreaded treble; ‘neel pwa’, no goals scored and goodness knows how many goals conceded.
Despite these horror stats the truly worrying thing is that it is not European competition that is a step too far. Rather it is domestic. The football on display is quite simply a disgrace. When you perm any two of the following; Lundstram, Jack and Kamara it’s not been good.
I’d like at this point to apologise in advance to Steven Davis. His overall contribution to the club over his two periods has been simply magnificent. Unfortunately, in Gio’s era, especially this season, he is now seen as part of our now less than fab four who slow our play down to walking pace.
Between a negative midfield and a defence who can pass the ball between them a dozen times all within 30 yards of our goal, allowing the opposition to walk back to take up their defensive positions, it is killing us.
Returning to Steven Davis if I may. I am reminded of something my old man passed down to me and it concerned Jimmy Millar. He told me that when the tide was turning against us back in the mid 60s and Jimmy was nearing the end at Ibrox, but still giving his all, a small but vocal section of the crowd turned on him. I sincerely hope that history does not repeat itself.
It’s not as if there haven’t been warning signs. In the CL qualifier in Belgium Lundstram, Jack and Kamara were all in the starting XI. The collective display that night should have been the line in the sand for packing a team with defensive midfielders. Add in another player of the same ilk in Sands, albeit as a stand in centre back it’s a wonder we came home with a score line of nil.
Then there’s the debacles at the cesspit. Usually, a hammering in an OF game can be viewed in isolation. We were terrible/they got the breaks etc. However, not twice within seven months of each other. That is something else entirely and in the two horror shows both games unfolded in almost the exact same manner.
The manager said on the eve of the latest disgrace the team knew what to expect and were ready for it. Yet the next day we still managed to look like rabbits caught in the headlights. For a guy who I’m constantly being told is a quick learner and heeds from previous mistakes you could fool me.
I simply cannot countenance the idea that the atmosphere at the cesspit inhibits or scares our players because if that were indeed true the lot can go and the sooner the better. Another aspect of our play both in February and earlier this month still irks and begs the question; How can professional footballers be caught out by the antics of ball boys not just once but twice? That suggests to me that the malaise I believe is running through the club on the playing side is far worse than even I could have imagined.
Fans who still believe in the manager and players will point to the fact that we have lost to only one club domestically in Gio’s time in charge. That is of course correct and that is their right, but even if you are blinded enough to ignore the two humiliations at parkhead (which is off the scale in my book) the most blinkered of fans must secretly groan at some of our performances domestically and that basically sums up this season so far.
The 2-1 win over Dundee Utd being the perfect example. Up against utter dross who are leaking goals left, right and centre. Once again we start with two holding (negative) midfielders at Ibrox against the worst team in the league and scrape through by the odd goal in three. Still, we can’t complain. With you-know-who slipping up at Love St, we managed to whittle the GD to only minus 14. Not bad after only seven league games.
Another excuse some will latch onto is the notion that even under Walter and Gerrard we ground out wins at times,’ or ‘we knew how to win ugly’ as the saying goes. Stuff and nonsense. I watched a pitiful second 45 minutes against QotS recently and we were hard pushed to make any sort of attack worthy of the name. Our football is atrocious, stagnant and sterile. That chappy Roget would be knackered coming up with adjectives (in my case, expletives) describing our play and it is the rule these days rather than the exception.
I’m not entirely blameless as a fan and my part in the uneasiness that has slowly but surely crept up on thousands of us. Like a great many I was taken in by Gio’s managerial title win in the Dutch league. Now? I’m not so sure. I can only think that his (Feyenoord’s) greatest rival, Ajax, were in between teams and that transitional period that they so often go through when he was in charge in Rotterdam.
By that I mean Ajax had brought through and sold their latest batch of youngsters who were sold on and were making do and marking time till the next crop of wonderkids burst onto the scene. If I’m wrong, I can only apologise. But that’s what happens when you are insular and don’t take too much of an interest in what is happening elsewhere.
There are other issues to consider and whether Gio is being held a hostage to fortune or not? For a start there is this whole Ross Wilson thing going on. Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m a dinosaur and so much out of step with how much of modern-day football operates that I need snookers to get back through the turnstiles.
But I cannot get my head around the notion that someone like Gio and the standard of football he has played the game at during his career; you know at CL and WC finals level, allows a non-entity to influence his judgement on what players to bring to the club? It might be how the world revolves now. That doesn’t mean I have to buy a token for the merry-go-round, and suck it up.
As someone rightly pointed out we don’t live in a Man City bubble whereby Pep identifies that he needs a centre forward and his DoF brings in probably the most exciting and prolific goalscorer on the planet. We realise we are operating at the low end of the market and bargain basement area so we need to get our signings spot on and be able to hit the ground running. Maybe I’m asking too much? However, for me a manager spots his signings playing elsewhere, identifies them and when he thinks they can do a job for him in his team, we sign the player in question. Sounds quite simple to me.
There are other things I cannot get my head around. Like, why are we still bringing players into the club with highly publicised and well-known injury problems? John Souttar and Ben Davies? Being the latest examples.
Being contrary as ever, and being fair to the manager, I get the reasons (or I think I do) why we signed Aaron Ramsey back in January. The rationale being that wee bit of extra top of the class talent would or could potentially have helped result in a season that would have soared above all others in terms of achievement.
As we all know now it would end in spectacular failure. That’s the risks you take though with high pressurised gambles. Legends are made or strangled at birth depending on the throw of the dice. Gio, the club and support all lost. That loss back in May I believe has changed the entire landscape for all of us going forward.
I believe a title win or a UEFA Cup win (I wanted both to deprive that lot automatic entry) would have meant higher quality signings coming into the club because of the monies automatic entry to the CL groups would have guaranteed us for this season. Our signings thus far tend to prove the point. Colack apart no one has been startling. Tillman (a loan) and Lawrence (a free) could well prove stars. Only time will tell.
If there are major problems on the pitch, we’re not short of a few off, it either. I get the feeling the directors sit in the boardroom after a match and shrug their shoulders at whatever situation arises. There doesn’t seem to be a proactive approach to defending the club or putting us on the front foot. Getting back to the recent debacle at Parkhead for instance. Do they even discuss what the staff and officials have to go through entering and leaving Parkhead for instance?
Or just as important what the fans have to go through and the measures imposed on them by plod? Because as sure as eggs are eggs Celtic would be shouting out from the rooftops and demanding resignations at plod HQ from the top down if the roles were reversed. Not us though, we just take it up the jacksie. You’d think that stiff upper lip of ours has to tremble at times? Apparently not.
Yo-yoing back to our demise last season a claim can legitimately be made for saying there was something sinister in the decisions that went against us and the refereeing performances behind them and you can count me in as a believer. However, yet again our dignified silence has been our undoing.
Let’s even take the coming of SG as a starting point. There’s overwhelming TV evidence to have Clancy barred from officiating at all, far less games involving Rangers. There’s enough TV evidence pointing out how our players are refereed differently. The recent display from Collum at Easter Rd yet again being as startling an example as you are liable to get. The waste high assault on Barisic whereby the aggressor is allowed said assault with impunity and the red card of course for Lundstram being merely the tip of the iceberg.
The biggest irony for me is that last season despite the outrageous decisions against us, Gio glibly and very naively in my opinion would opine that VAR would sort out all our ails. It could well be that by the time VAR actually is introduced, Gio could be popping down the local job centre. Talk about being hoisted by our own negligent petard?
Overall, some of the issues look straightforward, or simplistic to me as a supporter. If the board put as much time and effort into tackling the corruption, we are met with on an almost game by game basis as they did fighting the Cinch deal (in which they were correct) we’d all be in a better place.
We keep getting told that the members of the board are all brilliant individual movers and shakers. Tell you what we’d see a far different response from them in their private dealings and businesses if outside agencies were putting untold and sinister pressure on their business, which allowed a rival to steal a march on them.
In its way the Cinch clinch sums the board up. You can do what you want to Rangers but don’t dare try to hurt me or my own business interests or you can expect a fight. Of course we are all grateful for the events of March 6th,2015, however on a personal level that good will and leeway has limped over the finishing line. Others have the right to feel differently.
Then there was the proposed tour of Australia with us playing second fiddle to that mob. Even Murray for all his arrogance and disregard for the fans wouldn’t have dared try and pull as pathetic a stunt as that. Out of touch? The clowns responsible for accepting this jolly in the first place would have us taking the knee at a KKK rally if there was a couple of bob in it.
There are other issues to take into account. This mob have aimed barb after barb at us from 2012 onwards, They barely diguise their hatred and contempt for us. From the board down to their rat faced ball boys and everyone in between, especially ex yahoos in the media.
I shouldn’t have to highlight the other reasons why we need to cut all ties with this rancid organisation. If the present bunch in charge are not prepared to do so they shouldn’t be at Ibrox. It’s suffice to say that shower are prepared to wage war against us at all levels. Our lot want to be pals and don’t seem to get the frustrations of the support at large. It was ever thus.
However, let’s cut to the chase and the title header. We didn’t know it at the time of course but after losing four goals at the cesspit John Greig, the manager, never fully recovered and the magnificent agg European results against Juve and PSV, and I’ll even throw in Valencia away (hey, I’m that kind of guy) fast became a fading memory and a frayed security blanket for those who still wanted to believe in the man.
The bottom line is John Greig, that warrior of a footballer, whose tails never failed, simply wasn’t cut out for management. Time can be a great healer and we look at those years now as a mere blip in the life of the man. The more I look at Gio Van Bronkhorst I get that same feeling. Management is just not for him.
No one wants a manager of Rangers to act like a fleabag like Lennon or any other yahoo manager you care to mention in defeat or adverse circumstances. However, the docile and passive way he reacted to any number of reverses last season, especially with the outrages of officials had me wondering what actually has to happen to us, and by extension him (because in the end up it will be he who ultimately bears the brunt of the dropped points) to un-unflap him?
Back in 1979 after JG lost four goals at Parkhead, we all stumbled together for another four and a half years. GVB won’t get that leeway. He won’t go because of me however. He will go because he shattered the illusions of those who believed.
What should worry them more than shattered dreams is that the guys in charge and in control of those mind games they’re putting us through really do have a heart of glass. They simply do not have a clue as to where we go from here.
Due diligence? Where have we heard that before?