This morning Rangers confirmed Joey Barton is suspended for three weeks pending effectively internal hubbub over the state of the land.
Truth is Barton has almost certainly played his last game for Rangers, and that comes as no disappointment to anyone such was the meagre contribution he made.
The signing was a horrendous mistake, one every fan had misgivings about but one where most of us became kids again and allowed ourselves to be swept up with regarding the hype.
In terms of his reputation, it was the biggest signing Scottish football had seen for years, so it seems quite human to big it up. Who, seriously, was going to be outspokenly critical of such a signing?
Such action would undermine Mark Warburton’s judgement, and that of Frank McParland, and that is not supporting your team.
And yet, it was a dud. A failure on every level, Barton did not put his money where his mouth is and was, relatively, maybe Rangers’ biggest flop since Flo. Neither player absolutely embarrassed themselves on the pitch, but what was delivered did not live up even 10% to the hype their arrivals generated.
So…it really is time for Rangers fans to move on from Barton and try to focus purely on the season ahead which will in all likelihood be without him.
And that begins in Govan tomorrow night when James Fowler’s Queens side once again come to Ibrox, a side Rangers seem to have played more than anyone else these past four years.
Going by the iota of progress witnessed when County took a point on Saturday, Rangers are moving, maybe even crawling in the right direction, but failure to negotiate the Palmerston side would heap yet more pressure on a beleaguered Mark Warburton already smarting from his struggles this season.
On the other hand, a vibrant display with a few goals would give the former Brentford boss some welcome breathing room, such is the currency of a rare convincing victory these days.
However, he will have to do it without Rossiter (knee injury – out for estimated four weeks), which does thin Rangers’ defensive midfield options considerably in concert with the banning of his colleague and Crooks’ lack of match fitness albeit the ex-Stanley anchor is now physically fit, and available and will play some part tomorrow.
Expect Andy Halliday to fill in there from the start again though, while Swiss stopper Philippe Senderos returns following his Old Firm sending off, which sees a four-way battle between Senderos, Hill, Kiernan (fit again) and Wilson for the centre-back slots.
Queens top the Championship table, a league which includes Rangers’ three-time conquerors last season Hibs, plus Raith, Falkirk and Dundee Utd, which does give some indication how tough a match this is in prospect – Rangers have majorly struggled against sides of this calibre (and higher) for many months now and fans will sincerely hope a strong side will put Fowler’s men to the sword, something they have failed to since the opening fixture on the astroturf of Palmerston last season.
Warburton is under pressure for the first true time since becoming manager. And he needs to convince fans the team is going in the right direction; victory tomorrow would be a decent nod to it.