In 2015, now-club ambassador and 9IAR captain Richard Gough played a big role helping Dave King seize control of the Ibrox boardroom. Ibrox Noise caught up with the defensive legend to get his thoughts on where Rangers were, are, and are going.
IN: The Club has obviously been through a hell of a journey over the past five years. Do you see a serious return to SPL titles within the next five or should fans be more patient?
RG: “I’d like to think so, that there will be the investment and we will be able to challenge. You’re judged on your league position at the end of the day, and if we progress as we hope to it will not take more than 5 years to win the title again.”
IN: Defence has been a subject of debate since Walter Smith left. What do you feel has been the missing ingredient in that department over the journey? And do you think we have it now or it’s still not quite there?
RG: “I like to think you attack and defend as a team, and we haven’t been doing that. We’ve been so weak at set pieces, completely missing centre halves who can head the ball clear – I was happy to hear Caixinha wants to instil aggression in the side. Hopefully he does that and it leads to stronger defending from us throughout the team.”
IN: Many fans like the idea of you being a defensive coach. Would you favour a role within the coaching set up yourself?
RG: “Defensive coaches are a great idea, if the manager needs assistance in that area to help out. If an experienced pro like Ally is telling the strikers how to play, they’re going to listen to him. Equally defensive such as myself. If I’d been asked by Warburton I’d probably have said yes.”
IN: Obviously we have a new manager, and we will all get behind him and his staff, not to mention the players. What were your thoughts on the new man, and were you as surprised as the rest of us by the appointment?
RG: “I was very surprised – it’s a bold decision by the board, and it has a lot of positives, such as the new and fresh ideas he’ll bring – it’s caught supporters’ imaginations and I’ve been really quite impressed with how he’s gone about his business so far. He’s been sharp in the press conferences especially, journalists trying to catch him out but he’s been savvy and hopefully he is as good when it comes to match day.”
IN: You said recently that if our ex-manager didn’t want to be at Ibrox, he wasn’t welcome. That we are bigger than one man. He has now got the job that he indirectly denied not being interested in, completely justifying Rangers’ stance; is that a lesson that Rangers will not tolerate anyone whose heart is not set on us?
RG: “Yes, the whole situation reminded me of ’91 and how Graeme Souness departed. That was a massive shock. If your heart isn’t set on the job, you should go. You’re either all in or you’re out, and clearly Warburton was the latter.”
IN: Goalkeeping coach Jim Stewart has left, although there are claims he was going to retire this summer anyway. Does that come as a surprise, and do you think it is good idea him going now?
RG: “Not shocked – football is a very dynamic sport and change is constant – there’s no room for loyalty when it comes to progress and I have a lot of respect for Jim and he’s a great guy but the Club can’t say no to the manager wanting his own men. He’s a good pro who’s done great things for Rangers and Scotland and he will have taken this on the chin without any regrets or bitterness.”
IN: In your time and even afterwards, Rangers always had a dominating midfielder. Whether it was Ian Ferguson, Trevor Steven, or Gazza, or more recently Barry Ferguson – that was a big part of the midfield. Do you see that as a role that needs filling again or is it not too important?
RG: “All big clubs be it Rangers, Chelsea, Man Utd, AC Milan etc need characters. Strong men to lead the team, men to make a spine down the middle whether it’s defence, attack OR midfield and that’s something Rangers have lacked for a while. Thought we might have it with Barton but that didn’t work out. Yes, we do need that and hopefully it’s something Caixinha will address.”
IN: Recently Dave King lost a case and confirmed via Rangers’ site that he will have to offer to buy up all shares. Do you think he should make a serious offer to genuinely take full control or is it better to have a bigger variety of shareholders?
RG: “Perhaps he isn’t interested in owning Rangers outright. He has said before that Rangers shouldn’t be owned by one man, but it is the system I grew up with myself, and it worked well for us, with David Murray at the helm. But I’m not sure if that’s the best route to take these days.”
IN: You and he played key roles in regime change. Are you happy with how things have gone the past 2 years, on and off the pitch?
RG: “Yes I am, with what happened and what could have happened there was just no one else coming in to properly take the club over. Dave asked me to back him and I said yes and things really do seem to have settled over the past couple of years. It’s not quite perfect but the chaos of 2012-2015 has definitely reduced.”
IN: And lastly, where do you see your future within the game? You’re based in USA now, do you have any plans to begin something there in terms of the sport stateside?
RG: “No, I’ve got a property company here in the USA nowadays which keeps me busy but I am delighted to remain a part of Rangers helping out where I can – I work with Orsa and I’m over and involved now way more than I used to be, but I try to balance that with my company in the USA and that keeps me on my toes.”
Ibrox Noise would like to thank Richard for taking the time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions.