“Second place syndrome”


When Rangers returned to top-flight football last year, it was a situation completely unprecedented in British football, and possibly globally. A country’s premier team, suddenly cast to the lowest division, having to start again and rebuild an essentially new team to climb through the tiers and ultimately restore itself at the top table again.

Leeds Utd fans know how this feels, and they have suffered the ignominy at Elland Road of being trapped in the lower leagues of English football for the best part of 15 years now. The only vaguely relevant other global comparison would be Monaco, who were dumped down a division in France for financial issues, but that is one division.

Hence the rules have changed for Rangers, and the situation we as a club find ourselves in is entirely unique. And one of the biggest barometers of measuring how far our institution has come in the past four or five years was the anticipation and expectation of where this giant of the British game would place itself in the table once the dust had settled on promotion.

For the record, yours truly expected roughly midtable – the squad we had last season was simply not good enough to handle the better teams in Scotland. It struggled away at Hibs and Falkirk (losing all four league clashes on our travels), it was made to look very poor by a thrifty St Johnstone side at Ibrox, and while there were wonderful wins over Dundee and Celtic to look fondly back on, at best it was all a distinctly mixed bag with a lack of consistency.

So, while I was happy enough with 4th-7th, other fans expected second place minimum, with some demanding a real fight at the title. We are Rangers, and we should never expect second best. And that is true; no true Rangers fan should ever ‘accept’ second best. We should always be absolutely gutted to not lead Scotland’s top flight, not ‘resigned’ to not doing so.

However, something happened in the summer of 2016 which changed both my expectation, and that of similarly modest-minded fans who had just hoped to have a credible season midtable with the squad we had: we started upping our ambitions. Instead of bringing in similar types of players to the ones who had secured promotion, Mark Warburton completely abandoned everything he had ever preached, and he panicked. Suddenly he realised just how much was expected next season, and instead of picking out Waghorns and Taverniers, Rangers’ budget appeared to rise massively as Joey Barton, Philippe Senderos, Niko Kranjcar, Jordan Rossiter, Lee Hodson, Joe Garner and others arrived at the Marble Staircase.

Rangers were no longer signing forgotten lower-league talents, but suddenly went straight into the deep end and signed seasoned internationals, top-class players, midfield powerhouses and other unexpectedly good players. The wage structure, while still not anything like the old days, still saw the marquee summer arrival in the form of Barton getting a very handsome £17K a week, while his peers got pretty healthy salaries themselves.

In short, Dave King and the board authorised a massive hike in the budget and if there is a single Rangers fan whose expectations were still modest after the likes of Barton, Senderos and Kranjcar came through the door, they made themselves very quiet indeed.
Rangers, put simply, now had a top two squad, and while perhaps still not quite on Celtic’s level, it was a gargantuan statement and one which had accompanied demands.

You do not sign those standards of players to expect fourth place. And we do look at the table and we see Rangers in second. Where they ‘should’ be. The problem, though, is not the position, but the points gap and the performances. Rather than giving Celtic a healthy run for their money, Rangers languish nearly 20 points behind. On no level will that ever be acceptable. It is why Paul le Guen was fired, with, I hasten to add, a squad not a million miles better than the one Rangers had by September last year. Karl Svensson and Sebo, anyone?

But further to that, the painful reality that this expensively-assembled squad is only two points better than Aberdeen having played a match more. On no planet Rangers is this tolerable. Not on mine, and not on anyone’s I know.

And to further compound the shambles, the marquee signings? All failed. Every single one of them. Whether injury laid them out or their own personality did, last summer’s transfer business was an absolute disaster, and it is only because I love Rangers so much that this angers me. I know many reading this will think ‘another negative Rangers article from a derided site that does nothing but slate Rangers’ – absolutely true, because right now our Rangers are not delivering anything like what they should in light of last window’s incomings, and a multitude of fans want to defend that and advocate that it is ‘acceptable’?

It was not acceptable under PLG, with a newly-assembled squad. He was not afforded ‘time’. But somehow fans cut Warburton more slack than any manager in Rangers’ history due to the ‘where we have been’ clause as if how bad it was before is justification for how bad it is now.

Walter Smith came in and fixed PLG’s mess inside 24 hours. That is what a good manager who understands the SPL does.

If Warbs’ Rangers were 5-10 behind Celtic and 10-15 ahead of the rest, I think that would be a fair and acceptable reflection of what this squad should be at. But neither gaps resemble that at all, and that is what infuriates so many fans.

So yes, right now this site is painfully negative, and it winds us up writing these articles because we want to be doing what we did last season, which was 90% positivity (odd how no one ever brings that up). But then give us something believable to be positive about and the mood on here will reflect that.

Honesty is how we work, stating our opinion based on what is happening. If you want buttercups and rainbows and propaganda telling you ‘we will learn from this’ go somewhere else.

We support and love Rangers, and that is why we struggle with where things are right now. Many likeminded fans are exactly the same.


  1. We have that element amongst our support around 10,000 of them ! Rangers are not to be criticized and never say anything negative about the club ,ironically this is probably the same 10,000 who refused to boycott to save the club they repute to love

  2. I agree with most of your article, but this squad is never going to get within 5 points of that bloody lot. Wholesale changes to squad needed,and a manager who likes a team to have a defence, wouldn't that be a bloody novelty. We will be back, its just a matter of time.

  3. fantastic work ibrox noise agree with you most of the time . i can't see warburton overtake septic .as for scottish football no mr lawed that runs s,f,a .the punishment that they gave rangers only suited one team septic so they could get champions league money every year . us rangers fans have been punished for something wee did not do , not a word from any body as to who stole our money season ticket money e,t,c mr marry and his small band of rats get away scot free .the worst thing for me is listening to those gloating septic fans , rangers fans have been magnificent give us a real rangers man to pick our team stick with our own kind would love to talk about football but there isn't any under warburton

  4. Millions have been put into our club by the directors and chairman. There may be very good reasons why more have not been spent at this time. Mid-season being one of them. But by far the biggest stumbling block is the hold Ashley still has on our commercial business. Why did McCoist side with Ashley, his 1.5% share vote would have watered down Ashley's influence. Was it treachery or is their something else going on? There has to be people who want to invest and it is not being done, Next season's targets and price points should be known, and quickly put to the manager and scouts.But the focus should be on Ashley and it isn't. All press condemnation is averted to the manager and team.

  5. For every bear including ibrox noise,who doesn't rate or want mark warburton to be the glasgow rangers manager,i'd suggest they have a good read at,wee wullie henderson's interview in the daily record and sun newspapers this morning,regarding our manager and unfortunately where we are as a football club just now!The wee man is spot on,and i for one totally agree with everything he said.Pure sensible and realistic interview!!What other manager just now, considering where we are as a football club,could do any better than warbs,who has BOTH hands tied behind his back??ITS funny how the likes of harry redknapp,sir alex ferguson,eddie howe,arsene wenger etc all tell you that mark warburton is a good manager!!But what do they know,EH?Compared to our glory hunting,impatient fans!Get it in your heads that there is a total mess to be fixed out behind the scenes of our club,and on the playing side as we have NO investment coming in to relay heavily on the playing staff!Until investment starts coming in,this is where we are as a football club,for several years yet!We need supporters supporting everything the club is trying to do to move on!NOT fans who only support rangers for the glory and when the chips are down they want to disgard them!If you feel like that don't go to see or support glasgow rangers!We need us all pulling together on our journey back to the pinnacle of scottish football!!

    • agree with some of your comments we need to pull together us rangers fans have been magnificent what about fergie e,t,c never had a good word to say about rangers .has warburton done a good job i don't think so with the funds he's had only two teams in scotland that win trophies fact we should never be this far behind we will see if your still shouting for warbs in six months if he would have started to build from the back wee would not be this far behind warburton makes celtic look like world beaters look what happened to them in europe .celtic have been scrapping through games they are not as good as they think they are .are you telling me wullie henderson is right celtic will win 10. or 12 in a row . i don't care whats going on behind scene only what happens on park if were winning on park everything will be sorted thats mark warburtons job . i don't want to start slating any rangers manager or player .lets just say i think he's bought some average players and they cost more than celtics so called superstars . no giving up on our side fans side .

    • wee wullie hendersons wrong rangers will be back next year new manager plenty fight well not roll over as for your ferries e,t,c celtic supporter don't listen to them never done us any favours

  6. We are a very mediocre team under MW…. but this manager thinks it's an achievement to be sitting in 2nd place, 19 points BEHIND Celtic…..Would be more if we deduct the points we STOLE with last minute goals. If DK does have a war chest, then I hope he brings in a new manager to spend it and gets rid of all the average journeymen we have had to endure under MW..

  7. There will be a lot going on behind the scenes that we don't know about e.g. maybe McCoist was asked by King to abstain in the vote for a share issue to prevent it getting enough support! This would mean that King has the perfect excuse not to provide Warburton with funds in this months window and early in February an EGM will be called to vote again on a share issue and McCoist will this time support it! That way there will be a transfer war chest for a new manager in the summer. I find it very hard to believe that Coisty would stab Rangers in the back, there must be something going on that we don't know about yet. Maybe I just cant accept that my second favourite Rangers player of all time would betray us, time will tell.

  8. Harryboy501,are you for real my friend??The game lasts 90minutes or whatever else injury time the ref adds on!Its actually a very good habit to have in going to the death and scoring late goals!!All successful teams in the past have always found a way to do this.So instead of doing what your doing,and putting a negative slant on scoring late goals,i'm putting a positive slant on it because i truly believe this is a very good habit to have!!Try having patience mate and getting behind the manager and our club in general,and then judge when its time to judge!It's easy to support glasgow rangers when everything is rosy in the garden,Harryboy501,EH???

  9. I started reading this thinking 'here we go again, another attack – why can't you be positive'. But, I have to admit that I can't disagree with a word you've written.

  10. The truth is we need the true fans to take over buy our club and run it the way it should be no more board voted on that take £250.000 plus each year hey are we off our heads let fan ownership take over here let the true fans get this started no need to pay huge sums to none playing staff lets do this the time is now the time is right now.

  11. The problem we have, the artile, the responses (all good with Rangers in our heart) is that us, the supporters, do not really know what to believe. Results, pretty average, who is to blame, team/board/manager, finances, what is the real state of affairs, is their anyone to blame, old boards, old directrs , current board, previous orcurrent chairman, lack of vision because of on going issues away from the football team such as Ashley or funding promises, stadium costs, with any business, you need a very focussed plan, you need everyone to believe in that plan and in general everyone should have an idea of that plan/vision and above all be led, what their part is in achieving it, sadly we are 100's of miles off achieving it at present as we really do not know what is going on, Mr King needs to get his act together, he is the leader, he needs to lead, not hide!

  12. I think possibly Warbs won't be given anymore money to spend this season, may get a loan here or there. He may well be waiting to see what happens this second half of season. His signings have been suspect already and player choices such as Tav who is not a defender.

  13. Just watched 1st half against Leipzig, only got 1 thing to say…
    Messrs Warburton and Weir….GET TAE FUCK NOW

Comments are closed.