Making sense of Rangers’ serial sagas

Article by Sam Groves
It is hard to know exactly how to start this article. Is it with the Joey Barton headlines dominating all things Rangers? Is it with the crucial trip to Inverness on Friday which must see a continuation of the bright form (after a slow start) against Partick? Or is it with the excellent news that defensive midfielder Jordan Rossiter’s return to training gives Mark Warburton a full squad to choose from for the first time this season?

Good news, bad news, important news. The rollercoaster of emotions that is Rangers right now.

In harsh truth we must start with Barton. It has become, frankly, an embarrassment. Rangers made the wilful decision to sign a player with arguably the worst reputation in football, and bring him into possibly the highest pressure pot city for football in Britain. A player, raised as a Celtic fan, who ended up playing to Rangers’ galleries and goading everything Celtic, making him, thanks to his lousy form and the subsequent circus that has developed with his behaviour, a complete laughing stock that Rangers cannot afford to pay off.

This is a £2M waste Rangers are stuck with unless the board can find some way of ripping the deal up without being hauled into court by a player wealthy enough to be able to do so.

Then you have the rumours Barton actually wants to get back to playing, that he is, according to Talksport claims, ‘desperate’ to don Rangers’ shirt again and prove himself.

It has become a true modern tragi-comedy – but not one any Rangers supporters are laughing at. Indeed, the bizarre mood from social media is that supporters are almost more angry with the club’s handling of this growing farce than they are with Barton’s own conduct. Whatever he did to merit the initial three-week ban, Mark Warburton has evidently decided he does not want the player back in his squad, hence the extension, and Rangers’ board as well as Warbs are getting it thick from fans appalled how this saga is unfolding.

It is ugly, and sooner it is completely resolved one way or the other the sooner we can move on.

To things like the importance of Friday, and getting two wins in a row for the first time back in the Premiership – Rangers currently sit fifth – nowhere near good enough but within three points of second, which would probably be regarded as a good finish this season in light of the beleaguering start.

But Warbs has to get the team right, and start giving more chances to players who need and arguably deserve them. Guys like Joe Dodoo, Michael O’Halloran, Lee Hodson, Matt Crooks et all are wasting away on the bench while the same old predictable XI seems to start every league match.

Warbs needs to introduce more Trojan horses in his team – more players who opponents do not expect – how often do we see the McKay, Miller and Waghorn trident up front? And the midfield has reverted back to last season’s, which is no bad reflection of Jason Holt’s gradual return to some form and Andy Halliday’s fairly respectable showings; but it is the predictable usual.

But in, as mentioned, better news still, Jordan Rossiter’s return to fitness could not have happened at a more important time. Sure, again, he probably will not even be on the bench never mind starting this weekend, but having his quality at Rangers’ disposal is vital.

Warburton needs to shake his team up more in the league – it is all very well the official site proudly proclaiming four changes from the last match, but when the last match was a cup fixture, the gravity of those changes reduces massively.

There are a number of players who seem completely immune to dropping; Foderingham (in his defence he has delivered), Wallace (having a horror of a season), Tavernier (been far better this season than how he finished last), McKay (mostly ineffective this season), Miller (36, might be the top scorer but it is demoralising for the Joe Dodoos of this world), and Waghorn (if he is fit, he plays – that simple).

Shaking this up to be less predictable would be such a refreshing change albeit thank heavens Rob Kiernan seems now to have been ditched – but I guess that will be confirmed one way or the other on Friday.

Unfortunately, the Joey Barton circus will probably rumble on till next week.


  1. Absolutely on the nail with your comments. Totally agree we are too predictable and this gives our opponents the edge.

  2. Warbs says Rossiter is available for selection but maybe a week-10 days off 100% fit.

    Bearing in mind the young guys past history of injuries, any coach who is prepared to take a chance on a half fit player with that history is crazy.

    Warbs either just wants to deliver some positive news or he is gambling with this boy and that to me is bad news. We need the boy 100% fit and ready. Mind you I cannot work out Warbs recent comments on our website.

    Barton is just a waste of space, he'll hang around like a bad stink til the January window and then hopefully given a small payoff another club will pick him up, probably lower English leagues.

  3. You have to earn the jersey and MW sees the player in training.Yes i agree that some players look jaded McKay in particular and i would like to see Halliday given a chance on the left with Forrester and Windass in midfield but MW knows better than me.Thats why he is the Manager and not me

  4. We have some really good players at Ibrox and what is needed is a change to the system. Possession football is risk free football and easily defended against. We should be prepared to take risks lose the ball if necessary to try and create more penalty box action. As for Barton something about this situation stinks and its a mystery why this saga continues

  5. Regarding Barton, someone said on the last article that it was absolutely fine for the club to extend his ban for another week, and nothing wrong with it.
    Apart from the fact that there is everything wrong with it. He'd caused a problem, the club decided that it was worthy of a 3 week ban. He served the ban, then the club decided to lengthen the sentence.
    Compare that to real life : let's say a person was convicted of a crime and sentenced to 3 months in prison. They serve their time, but the day before their release they're told that another month has been tacked onto the sentence. Such a situation would be plainly ridiculous.
    As to Barton, well, he's showing that if Rangers can do PR bed-mouthing him, then he can do just as well showing that he's keeping to his side of any contract. He went away to Qatar to ensure he stayed match-fit for when his ban finished. He's now back in Glasgow, fit and ready to play (as shown by his hill-walking pics). He's 'desperate' to play, according to 'sources' close to him.
    All of this says, to any constructive dismissal hearing "I served my ban, ensured I stayed fit, made myself available for after the ban, and was willing and able to play. The club then made my position impossible"

  6. Give Dodoo a start. The guy clearly has immense talent and can do that clever turn, unpredictable thing. Composed on the ball, Velcro boots and pacey. It's like going back in time and signing Mark Walters…who is one of the greatest players to play for Rangers IMO. Hope Josh plays too as he can change a game. A great potential talent.

  7. Rangers can and will come good, we have the players and the manager that we need, just give them time. Barton if he wants to can be a Rangers player but he has to learn that Rangers come before him. When Barton was at Manchester City he was wild, and the same at QPR so they slapped him hard and he sorted himself out so the disciplining if this bampot hopefully will be worthwhile. WATP.

    • Your faith in the manager has to be applauded.

      Was this the same manager who stood on the touchline during the Scottishn Cup Final and watched Stokes destroy Tav for 90 minutes without taking any sort of action to limit the damage?

  8. What all the fans seem to forget is that king and the board signed Barton to sell season tickets nothing else and all the fans fell for it.

  9. Season tickets would have been sold this season regardless of who we signed mate, so thats that comment out the window

  10. Very good summary. More Halliday and Rossiter, less Barton and Kiernan. Some variations, please, on currently too predictable tactics e.g. MOH through the middle, Hodson (holding) rotating with Tavernier (attacking) etc.

  11. Warburton should try a 442 ,what harm would it do to mix it up a bit ,crooks Halliday holt and windass would be amazing in midfield in my opinion

  12. Your article illustrates exactly why we have been mediocre or worse so far this season. Hodson, MOH, Windass, Rossiter and Dodoo, what's not to like about these five names on the team sheet.I don't know what Hodson and MOH need to do to get a decent run in the team. It's a damn disgrace.

  13. Article is spot on. I think Hodson, Windass, Rossiter, Dodoo and MOH can do it for us, if fit. The rest have had their chances, and many of them. Hodson and MOH's absence has been baffling. These two guys should be playing every week.

  14. Warburton has totally mismanaged the Barton situation just as he failed to make the necessary defensive signings and stubbornly refuses to alter a formation every opponent knows and can counter easily.
    A Walter or Souness would not have made these mistakes, and the buck stops with the mis-Manager!

  15. Amazing transformation from last season where the team were playing lovely football and the manager could do no wrong and now … !
    Both the players and Warbs have a mountain to climb and so far it seems a bit too much for them unless something dramatic happens. Hard to believe that in the summer there were noises about Warburton moving on to something bigger and better.
    For those behind the scenes it's going to take a long time to live down the Barton fiasco and certainly raises doubt about their decision making ability.

  16. Total embarrassment at today's presser when a couple of innocuous Barton questions were raised. Jim Traynor the door man came to the rescue. Treated Warbs like a naive wee school boy.

  17. Warbs: "Don't tell me there's no good young talent coming through Scotland, I'm not having that at all. But we have to help them make the transition."

    Help them by giving Barton £28k a week, signing over the Hill, Krancs and Senderos and having a 37 yr old striker, really!!!

  18. Follow the money……..there's bad news on the financial horizon.

    What will it take for the gullibles to understand that King and his board have led the club to the edge of the abyss…….perhaps a winding up order from HMRC for unpaid vat, NI and Paye ?

  19. have you seen the press conference involving traynor and warbs? its fecking shambles all day night long, we dont have money but barton doesnt train and is paid … my word its beyond me

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