Of no doubt are the mild tensions among a portion of the Rangers support of present. While on the pitch the team is playing almost immaculately, and off the pitch accounts make for productive reading, the transfer window has become an issue of division and contention within the fanbase.
It started fantastically, with early signatures of Polish goalie Maciej Gostomski from Lech Poznan and English forward Harry Forrester from Doncaster Rovers secured, followed up promptly with a double swoop for Accrington Stanley pair Josh Windass and Matt Crooks on pre-contracts.
But of late the Toumani Diagouraga and Michael O’Halloran soap operas have dampened some spirits with the former ending up at Elland Road, while the latter appears no closer to completion and no apparent third bid being submitted.
This will concern manager Mark Warburton greatly – while he has rightly preached value for money and a stubborn refusal to bid more than Rangers’ strict valuation of a target, he equally hoped to have a new face in by Monday.
“I hope to have new signings in by Monday, if the work goes ahead and all parties are happy. In any negotiation all parties have to be happy, so if we can get to that point then great and I am very hopeful we will do. We are making good progress, these things sometimes happen very quickly and other times they demand more negotiation and to-ing and fro-ing but fingers crossed we get them over the line.”
Warburton expressed this view around four days ago, and there is little reason to believe he meant anything else other than what it says.
The fact we have now reached Monday and no new faces have appeared will bother him. Whatever the cause is, whether it is a refusal to pay the requested sum, or clubs refusing to sell, or players being swayed by alternative offers, Warbs will not be entirely thrilled that two of his big targets have not arrived, and nor indeed have any targets materialised by the date he set out.
It is not as colossal a problem as it appeared – this squad is barely seven months old and is still growing together, but with winger Nathan Oduwa’s departure still fresh and growing speculation linking young Ryan Hardie and Canadian winger Fraser Aird with loans away, Rangers are at slight risk of being a little too lean even for Warburton’s liking.
There is also the matter of the performances on the pitch – midfield and attack, recently, have been frankly excellent, and new signing Forrester has only made one brief cameo as a sub in the two match squads he has been called up to. This is what any new faces are up against. Consequently Rangers are not requiring urgent signings for reparation of poor form; quite the contrary.
But nevertheless the season has plenty of matches left, not least this evening’s trip to Cappielow, and injury and suspension will play key roles particularly in these winter months. As a result, new faces really are key to the continued running of this smoothly oiled machine, and fans’ frustration at the transfer sagas which have started to punctuate Rangers’ dealings in this window over the past weeks or so is understandable.
It is by far from the worst crisis Rangers have ever dealt with – but it is a mild irritation.
How it unfolds from here on in could well shape just how this league campaign plays out.