One thing has become clear in the past 24 hours, something we’ve been considering for some time but hadn’t been clear on – there are ‘two’ Rangers.
Under Steven Gerrard, we see the colossal title-winning Rangers, the one that bestrides like a colossus over everyone and even makes Europe look like a playpen with some superb displays and results against massive continental teams.
But then we see the other Rangers under our boss – the absolutely pathetic domestic cup failure, the one that loses weakly to substandard teams and shows no gut, heart or quality to capitulate.
While domestic cups are not THAT important, and the league is absolutely the bread and butter of this club, nevertheless there’s not a Bear alive who takes any satisfaction or even dismisses the fact we’ve been dumped out of both cup competitions early by frankly average teams.
What does this mean?
It means our manager is a master of Europe, and has been on point against the likes of Feyenoord, Liege and Porto from day one – and that he’s become a master of the league as well, grasping what it took over time and tuning his squad into it.
This makes sense – he was superb in Europe with Liverpool, and he even nearly won the league, coming close. It makes sense that it took him some time to grasp the hectic and brutal SPL, but that Europe came naturally to him.
But cups are different – with a tonne less matches in a cup tournament, our manager has had a lot less ‘practise’ at the latter stages of these competitions in this country, and what he has taken in has done him little good. Rangers played just two League Cup matches this season, 4 the previous season, and 3 the year before. 3 SC matches last season and 3 the season before. That’s 15 matches spread apart over three seasons.
Contrast that with the SPL – he’s played almost 120 matches as Rangers manager in the league – plenty time to learn how the league plays and works.
This is not to make excuses, because all clubs are in the same boat, but our manager was a newcomer to the SPL, and he’s just not learned how to build a cup-winning squad.
It took Steven Gerrard 80 matches to learn how to manage in the SPL – not quite sure 15 is enough to figure out the cup…