The McCulloch Conundrum

15
72


With the ridiculous embargo now
lifted and all new signings fully registered, Rangers manager Ally McCoist has
a significant dilemma. That dilemma’s name is Lee McCulloch.
McCulloch, or “Jig” as
he is better known, is club captain and has been at Ibrox for well over 6
years. A flexible utility player, Jig has occupied just about every slot in the
first team at one point or another in his time in Govan, and no fan would deny
the man has been a pretty good servant overall for the club.
However, while he may be club
captain, it is a strong argument that he is no longer the player he once was. Aged
35, it is pretty obvious that he is the elder statesman of the team, and while
he is certainly a role model for younger players, the debate fans have is
whether he should still be in the first XI.
His versatility certainly proved
useful during the transfer ban, for while the club had signed many good
players, it was merely allowed to register those signed from other Scottish
clubs as trialists and could play them in 3 matches each. Players signed from
clubs outside Scotland
could not be registered as trialists and were prohibited from putting on the
jersey in any context.
Ultimately this meant prior to
the 1st of September the only new signings that were able to feature were Nicky
Law, Jon Daly, Cammy Bell and Nicky Clark. The latter two only played once,
while the former two were able to play the full 3 matches.
In short this left the first team
requiring most of the squad from last year, and McCulloch certainly came in
handy. Debate raged over him or Cribari, or him or Faure (who has had a fine
start to 2013/2014) but either way Jig featured in every match bar a solitary
suspension for the visit of Brechin at Ibrox.
However, his presence in the team
is remaining a huge area of contention for the majority of supporters. While as
a man McCulloch is tremendously popular among the fanbase, even his most ardent
admirers are not entirely convinced he is the best selection choice for any
position.
This season he has mostly
featured in defence, and while the team has barely been tested in that area,
young Frenchman Faure and new signing Bilel Mohsni appear to be the favoured
pairing at the back in the eyes of fans given Faure’s sparkling start to this
competitive campaign and Mohsni’s excellent showings in pre-season. With Kyle
McCausland also in rare form at right back defensively and left back sown up by
Lee Wallace (with Foster and Smith also on the books) it seems the rearguard’s
armoury is pretty rigid.
So the continued selection of
McCulloch there would be a very curious decision given unlike aforementioned 6
players it is not his favoured position.
So, then we move to midfield.
McCulloch has never been much more than a stop-gap in the centre, and now Black
has hit form alongside Law and MacLeod, with Honduran international Arnold
Peralta ready to hit the ground running central midfield is clearly well
endowed.
McCulloch is well-known as a
winger during certain spells of his career, but Rangers have Barrie McKay,
David Templeton, Fraser Aird and arguably Crawford and Shiels. Again, the wide
berths are not a position requiring emergency utility.
Finally we have McCulloch’s
arguably most natural position. Up front. He scored a hat-trick in the
demolition of East Fife and was named MOTM but
Rangers also have last season’s top scorer Andy Little, the increasingly
impressive Jon Daly, 40 goals for QotS man Nicky Clark and aforementioned
Shiels.
Is there any place for McCulloch
ahead of these younger models?
Lee McCulloch is club captain. He
is also on a very handsome wage, and given his elder years by football’s
standards that wage is a big drain on Rangers’ resources.
Does who he is give McCulloch
immunity to ever being dropped? With the bright new captures Rangers have made
this summer is there a slot still waiting with Jig’s name on it regardless of
his form? Based on the East Fife result the
man can still score, but is he the player fans want up front or are preferences
with the likes of Clark and Daly?
If, however, he returns to
defence in the next match V Arbroath at Ibrox it does beg the question of why
McCoist signed Mohsni. While the fans wanted the big Tunisian signed up, it was
presumably on the basis McCoist would select him.
It remains a conundrum and McCoist’s
selections this season with a full squad to choose from will make for
fascinating viewing.

15 COMMENTS

  1. It is an interesting dilemma. One that I am sure all Rangers fans are glad that we have.

    I think it all depends on where you stand. I for one would always put him in my team. Why? Because he stayed when all others left. He stood up and was counted. And I think he has committed himself very well.

    Rangers should not sell him – I see him as a leader on and off the park and as a future manager of the club.

  2. Cribari Is a non starter in my book He is a big easy going Stookie on the park who couldn`t pass water never mind a ball Jigs would be ahead of him wearing a neck brace and a pair of Wellies

  3. we will get injuries, always better to have a couple of squads rather than 1 squad and some scraps for back up

  4. Matt is right. He stays. He provides cover and challenges for a number of positions and provides leadership, but he also symbolises what is best about the club. We don't forget those who stood by us, or those who ran. He stayed.

  5. I think he has earned the right to see out his time with the club ( a club he clearly loves)the man stayed a fought when times were dark and has been a leader for us off and on the park , i cant see the side being changed drastically but more phasing the new signings in to the team alot are still lacking match practice, i dont think he is guaranteed a place and i also think that jig himself is not daft enough to think that, regardless we all know the job he can do and where so having him as back up at the very least cant be a bad thing

  6. Shame on you Ibrox Noise.

    OK, its understandable that your only pointing out the facts of the matter. Where indeed to play McCulloch, now that the embargo on the trialists has been lifted & at last there appears to be light at the end of the witch-hunt tunnel.

    But mmmm, let me think. Well for my part, I would say anywhere & whenever he wants to, be perfectly honest.

    The guy who stood head & shoulders above everyone, when all around was crumbling to the ground. Or the guy who dragged the youngsters from their creche, to play a part in the would-be disaster that nearly was last season. Even the guy, without with his goals & leadership on the field, not to mention loyalty & graft, we may have fallen further embarrassment, against, part-time working men, determined to prove a point in their own personal cup finals, week in week out.

    Faure, McCausland, Foster & Smith. All have their part to play in defense, but not before proving themselves, even proving to be half the man McCulloch is, has been & continues to be. A place for him should always be available. He is a colossus in Rangers history. Not to be thrown aside now that things are looking a little brighter. This reeks of the type of behaviour we have come all to familiar with from the degenerates upstairs.

    Shame on you.

  7. Horses for courses, better squad than last year and a selection problem ally is not used to. As long as the results keep going as they are then why change it, no-one should assume 1st choice they need to work and show they deserve it… big change from last season

  8. Waste of a post. McCulloch has to be one of the first names on the team sheet, whether he plays CB, CM or CF he's always going to have a big influence on games til we reach the Premiership.

  9. Big Jig, nothing but respect from me. I would play you where I needed you most. Expereinced, versatile and TOTALLY COMMITTED. If our "board" were any of these things ……
    If anyone deserves the wage they're on it's McCulloch. He and Ally were the glue that held this together last year. Any talk to selling him off is a joke. After playing most of the year in primarily defensive positions last week he played striker. Did the writer watch the game?? We know Jig can use his head, why don't you.

  10. What a well written article. I and a few of my fellow Rangers fans debated the topic about Lee McCulloch on the way home from the game on Saturday against East Fife.
    I go along with most of the sensible punters response about loyalty, bleeds Rangers, etc. in regard to Jig. I do think though many of you missed an important point, his age, being 35.
    McCulloch, in my opinion could play at the back in a central defensive role comfortably for the remainder of this season, but I doubt if he would manage to perform in midfield in every game and up front he might also not last a whole 90 minutes.
    This is , in my opinion only , what might be a solution to the McCulloch Conundrum. At most away grounds our younger guys seem to suffer, poor playing surfaces, poor referees, artificial surfaces and bully-boy tactics. In those places and games, I'd be happy seeing Lee on the field, whether in defence or up front, not in midfield. Depending on how the games are going, i.e Airdrie game, substitute him and give a younger guy a run-out.
    At Ibrox, I'd be as one punter suggested, use a horses-for-courses approach, depending on the opposition maybe leaving him on the bench or not selected. It not only helps us develope younger, newly signed players to integrate into the team/squad, but gives Lee a deserved rest. I don't need to say how injury prone he can be too, sometimes last year and in previous seasons he played through injury, do we really want him to do that?
    I say play Lee McCulloch sparingly, but regularly to keep his match fitness up, this year we have seven substitutes, so there is no reason for him not be starting a game or coming off the bench and using him to the best effect.
    He should and will always be remembered in future times as a Rangers Great, not necessarily for his footballing prowess, although he has been good for the club, but for his stance in his loyalty to Rangers and I for one would have no doubt in his name appearing on the Rangers Hall of Fame .

Comments are closed.