Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Can You See The Rangers Coming?

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Kenny Stewart
Chief Football writer for The 4th Official. Always honest and won't shy away from the truth.

Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.

Rangers yearly accounts were released last week. There was some very interesting reading amongst the 60 pages or so. Bottom-line losses of almost £16 million show that the board of directors and investors have put their money where their mouths are, yet again.

As ever the delusional Sevco bloggers are using the losses as some kind of ‘truth’ that Rangers are in dire straits yet again. Just for clarity and fact basing, no they are not.

There will be more losses due to Covid on next year’s accounts also. That’s the world we’re all having to live in at the moment. Times are tough for most businesses out there.

I’m no financial expert here, so I don’t wish to dwell on the accounts in this article, but the facts of the matter are year on year since 2015, when the current incumbents of the boardroom came to the club, the losses equate to the investment in the playing squad. Give or take a £1 million each year, and that’s pretty much the case.

This is a period of accelerated investment, at a point in time where that investment push was required. All you have to look at is where the football club was in 2014 and look at it now.

In the Scottish Championship and failing to get out of the division to now sitting top of the Scottish Premiership and in with a very decent shout of becoming the champions of Scotland for the first time in a decade.

Douglas Park, John Bennett and the rest of the investors should be lauded for taking this monumental job on. They have dragged this great institution into the 21st century where beforehand due to lack of investment from David Murray and all that came after, we were stuck in the last millennium.

It’s important to recognise the simple fact that we were 1 good player sale away from a break-even set of accounts. That is the fact of the matter regardless of how the mentalists in other clubs support attempt to portray it.

That’s no different from our rivals across the city, a club who’s prominent fans have howled for 8 solid years about the hows and whys of Celtic being too big to ever be caught. The simple truth is if they hadn’t had the sale of Keiran Tierney in their accounts last season they’d have lost £25 million.

They can spin their own or Rangers accounts any way they wish of course, but the truth is no one believes them apart from their delusional, hate-filled followers.

The Celtic model is basically (in my opinion) what Rangers are also trying to achieve. Self-sustainability will be achieved via player sales. Bring in the best young talent available, nurture that talent and move the player onto bigger, richer leagues.

Going by the accounts posted that is where Rangers are lagging behind Celtic. That has taken far too long to get the club into a position to make a profit on players.

That’s down to previous bad management decisions and perhaps is the one area where the Rangers board have failed thus far. The right manager in place with the correct Director of Football is fundamental to the future success of any football club. For me, they have got that right now. Ross Wilson replacing Mark Allen has been pivotal to our strategy and now appears to be heading very much in the right direction.

Rangers Vs Aberdeen Tactical Preview - Rangers celebrate
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 12: Ryan Kent of Rangers FC celebrates with Alfredo Morelos and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo after scoring his team’s second goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and St. Johnstone at Ibrox Stadium on August 12, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard and Ross Wilson have been instrumental in hauling Rangers playing squad up to the levels required. Although players sales are not there as yet, it’s as plain as the nose on your face with players like Kent, Morelos, Barisic, Goldson, Roofe, Aribo, Hagi and Kamara that this will happen. There are some serious assets in that playing squad, and no amount of Sevcoing is going to alter that fact.

Right now as I write Rangers sit 11 points clear of Celtic albeit having played 2 more games than them, and they sit equal top of their Europa League Group alongside a quite excellent Benfica side after an exceptional game of football in Portugal that ended in a 3 all draw.

I very much doubt any of this would’ve been possible without the backing of the investors at Ibrox or the right decisions being made over the last 3 years.

Bringing Steven Gerrard to the club has been a masterstroke. His backroom staff are of the highest quality, and that is so apparent when you watch this Rangers team. The organisation, the interchanging and link-up play is genuinely up there with the best I’ve ever seen in my 40 odd years of following the club.

I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say the pride I have when watching this side has me shaking my head in disbelief at times. They are incredibly kind on the eye, and the next step is to bring trophies back to Ibrox.

If Gerrard and his team can do that, then they will go into the club’s folklore and dare I say it they’ll become legendary.

In saying that, we aren’t even in December yet. There’s still 20 odd games to go, and nothing is won here. Sitting at the top of the league in December is all well and good, but May is when the league trophy is handed over.

There’s a long, long way to go but this team is in another stratosphere when comparing it to the last couple of seasons. Defensively rock solid, and the goals are coming from all angles. My only gripe is I would want to see Alfredo Morelos scoring more. His overall play has been terrific but more goals from him would be the icing on the cake here.

MOTHERWELL, SCOTLAND – SEPTEMBER 27: James Tavernier of Rangers looks on during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers at Fir Park on September 27, 2020 in Motherwell, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

James Tavernier deserves special mention. If he isn’t player of the year in Scotland this season, I’ll be stunned. He has been sensational, no other word for it. Simply sensational.

I’m also really liking the managers take on what’s happening here. One game at a time has been the mantra and quite rightly so.

My take on this now, being 11 points clear is that this is Rangers title to lose. The single most important thing I’ve noticed is that from Sunday to Thursday, playing twice a week as we have done the previous 2 seasons is the strength in depth that Rangers currently have.

They’ve generally totally dominated league games from the first whistle to last. That’s allowed Steven Gerrard to utilise his squad by making the full allotment of 5 substitutes per game. It keeps everybody involved, it gives plenty of game time to the full squad, and more importantly, it hasn’t disrupted the performances in any way whatsoever.

If you look back on the previous 2 seasons, leading up to the winter break, Rangers have been neck and neck with Celtic but then found it difficult in the second half of the season.

I feel the depth of the squad and the rotation of players will leave Rangers in a healthy place for the remainder of this season. Where Rangers have been flat out at times getting results previously, they haven’t been this season.

Games have been in the bag early. The amount of goals Rangers are scoring while conceding so few means fresher legs, healthier minds and an all round positivity that is different from previous years.

Now, I have no idea how Celtic will react here, and they’re a good team for sure but on the face of it so far this season the boot would appear to be on the other foot.

Week in, week out, they are flat out to get results. Neil Lennon has alluded to players not wanting to be at the club, being lazy and been critical of his squad on several occasions already this season.

That hints at all not being quite right at Celtic Park, and when you add the fact they’re 11 points behind into the mix while every single fan tells them it’s 1 of the most important seasons in their history, then the pressure must be astronomical for Lennon and his squad.

December and January will give us a fair idea of how the season will pan out. If Rangers maintain this kind of form, then they’ll be almost impossible to overhaul but time will tell.

So, here we are on the cusp of 2021, with Rangers top of the league and their finances very similar to Celtic’s. The only single difference is that Tierney sale. That’s not too shabby at all for a club that turned over £17 million and selling a young player for £800 grand to keep the lights on a mere 7 years ago.

The delusion will continue among the Sevconauts. They live in a different universe from the rest of us. I’ve found myself getting a tad annoyed when I read their bollox but then I realise it comes from hatred and fear of Rangers being ambitious, run well, being backed by fans and investors alike and ultimately getting their shit together.

That’s something they never believed possible. It’s something that when I look back 5 or 6 years I couldn’t see happening either if I’m honest, but the difference is I have a love of the club I support while these fantasists hate their rivals more than they love their own club.

Best ignored and I’ll leave you with this…

The end of a delusion is invariably sadness and tears.

For Rangers fans, those tears will be of joy if the team can manage to keep this level of performance and results going. For others, delusion will be all they have to look back on after a decade of convincing themselves that their club is beyond parity or above being taken to task.

Time will tell, but I for one am incredibly proud of this Rangers team and all connected to the club. From board to investors, manager and staff, players and employees, but most importantly, the fans who’ve back this great club from Hell and back.

Rangers fans concentrate on Rangers, not other clubs. We aren’t particularly interested in how Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibs or Hearts are financially managed but then again as I said on Twitter the other day, very few could’ve endured what Rangers fans have had to put up with this last decade. In fact, I know a certain fanbase that couldn’t cope with 10% of the chaos we’ve experienced.

Yet still, they bang on about debt for equity swaps even though clubs such as Man Utd, Juventus, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Man City have done exactly the same. They talk about financial fair play (even though Rangers are within those parameters by miles). They attempt to tell us we are £80 million in debt, even though the real debt is about £4 million and less than theirs.

Yes, Rangers are reliant on Douglas Park and John Bennett and us fans will be eternally grateful to them for their continued investment. Still, when Rangers find themselves back in the Champions League, where they belong, then the value of that debt to equity swap will be huge to those investors if and when they decide to put the business back on the stock exchange.

Long term thinking and building the football clubs infrastructure has taken time and money, but no matter what others say, Rangers are on the right road. Although with Covid, tough times will be difficult to avoid.

But that is the same for all clubs, particularly in Scotland.

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