So it’s the morning after the night before, and the hangover of another wretched performance looms angrily in the background.
Where to start?
Well, we’re going to go leftfield with this one, and take an angle we’ve seen mentioned only a few times, about just why Rangers have been so staggeringly rotten since the turn of the year.
Now, while results in December were superb, not all the performances were. Remember the draw to Aberdeen? The stodgy wins over Killie and Motherwell?
December was glorious on many levels, but the performances weren’t always outstanding.
And January and February have just been abysmal.
What ties all of this in? What has been happening that could see this drop in energy? And where is our evidence of it?
Contracts. Handing new contracts out like confetti mid-season to any player who has about 5 decent performances in a row.
Steven Davis, Allan McGregor, Ryan Jack, Jermain Defoe, Ryan Jack, Niko Katic, Borna Barisic – you name it, a pile of our prized assets have been given new deals, and blow us silly and call us Frank if half of them if not all haven’t been utterly off key/horrendous since then.
It’s been a repeating theme – as soon as they get an extra year, or a wage increase, or a shiny new long-term extension, their hunger reduces.
Two blunt examples are Defoe and Barisic. Stunning players up till this calendar year, both of them got new deals and neither has kicked a ball in anger since then. And both, curiously, are currently injured.
Niko Katic is another – signed a 5-year deal in late October and has, a couple of matches aside, not looked half the player he was before.
This is all conjecture, yes?
Our evidence is more telling:
The only three players to look hungry and have the right attitude the past few matches are Scott Arfield, Connor Goldson and Ianis Hagi:
Arfield is still on the same deal he signed on. Goldson is not on a new deal either, nor has he been offered one. Hagi is playing for one.
Telling, is it not?
That the only three players at Ibrox who actually look hungry are the ones deep into their deals and playing for their futures or seeking to get a permanent gig.
And there’s the Ryan Kent example too. Hungry last season, ached to impress – got his deal this summer and has barely kicked a ball this term.
It all adds up to rewarding players with security and they then all down tools because they got what they wanted.
It’s not the only thing wrong, far from it, but it doesn’t help when most of your players lack the desire they had before.