We’re seeing an argument for the defence arise in recent weeks which blames the quality of player Rangers currently have as opposed the manager’s performance. It is true, Rangers’ squad doesn’t match Celtic’s and the budget is certainly lower. Steven Gerrard does take his share of responsibility as well though, so he’s not untouchable by any means.
What compounds this argument though is the more curious reasoning that because our budget just doesn’t match Celtic’s, and we can’t truly compete with them, therefore everything is ok.
The problem here is that our budget is far in excess of any other club in the SPL, yet we’re only just matching them.
Looking at the table, it is evident Celtic have massively underperformed this season. No getting away from that – they’re horrible by their usual standards and in face of the money they’ve spent.
However, they are now starting to just pull away – win on Saturday and they have a six-point gap and a game in hand.
But that’s not our concern. Our concern is Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and to an extent, Hearts.
And that’s the problem. These teams are matching us, despite us spending a massively higher amount on players and wages. In fact they’re beating us.
Yes, it is true that the top of the table is close including Celtic, but it could be argued Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers era at Parkhead is starting to run out of steam. Rangers’ Steven Gerrard one has only just begun.
And yet, on a budget far greater than Aberdeen and Killie find ourselves likely going into the new year on level pegging with these teams.
Our issue is not that we’re not matching Celtic – there just isn’t the cash to do that. Our concern is that Aberdeen, Hearts and others are still matching us three seasons after promotion despite their budget being minimal.
Our manager signs his players, whoever the manager is, and whoever the players are, yet consistently now the top half of the SPL matches us despite, Celtic aside, being on about a tenth of the budget.
It’s become a recurring theme.
Some argue there has been progress this season, that the team just ‘is’ better and the squad has been improved.
Well yes it has and no it hasn’t. In theory, yes, a clutch of internationals have joined up and guys like Grezda, Barisic, Arfield and McGregor do undeniably bring a lot to the team.
But the reality is on the battlefield, the gloves come off and we’re left wanting whoever takes the field in our shirt.
Our players do not deliver their weight, and neither does the manager.
Not right now anyway.