If one thing has absolutely divided Rangers fans right down the middle this season, it’s been the goalkeeping situation.
We at Ibrox Noise saw this coming months ago when speculation grew that Jon McLaughlin was to be the new number one, something Giovanni van Bronckhorst never denied, and to this day avoids in interviews entirely.
Fans at the time were overjoyed, something we found laughable, and while there are still a number of supporters who think the ex-Sunderland and Hearts stopper is up to the standard required, his poor start to the season has shown many more he doesn’t cut it.
Ibrox Noise’s Kevin discussed the topic in depth recently, espousing the virtues of Allan McGregor, while acknowledging his faults (the guy is 57 after all) and concluding he’s a better option than McLaughlin.
The ideal solution we’d propose is a promotion for Robby McCrorie, to get a major chance for league and cup, while McGregor is the main man for Europe.
It just isn’t McLaughlin.
Some argue the current stopper ‘hasn’t done much wrong’.
Well, other than being caught ridiculously out of position v Livi, and letting a straight shot go right through him v Union, before being a rabbit in headlights for the penalty.
But the reality is he hasn’t done much right, either.
This whole debacle reminds us of Stefan Klos v Ronald Watereus back in the day.
Klos was the clear number one but got a terrible injury preseason and was ruled out of the whole campaign. Rangers needed a replacement. The Dutchman was signed, and while impressively ambidextrous with both feet, he wasn’t as good a pure shot stopper. But when the German returned, he found himself on the bench, and Alex McLeish stuck with the Oranje boy.
This split fans right down the middle, some believing Waterreus had earned the slot, others believing you should pick the best players. It was a long-running feud for a period, and it kind of ended Klos’ career at the club. In many ways, it was McLeish’s stubbornness, picking HIS man and not Dick Advocaat’s signing.
Is this the same?
We do feel there’s an aspect of it yes – McGregor is a better all-round keeper than McLaughlin, even with his faults, and he has a few (he is terrible for cross balls).
How anyone can honestly prefer a guy who played with Hearts and then League One amassing an entire one cap during this time over a CL regular who played PL and at the top level with Scotland and Rangers, we really don’t know. And in Gio’s case, he awarded McLaughlin the contract extension so there might be a sense of the deputy now being ‘his’ man, like Waterreus was McLeish’s?
We’re not wholly sure.
What we utterly acknowledge is McGregor was NOT at his best last season, and he did cost us points in the league. He’s been far from flawless in recent times, age definitely catching him up.
But we’re not necessarily demanding he go back in, we’re just saying he’s better than McLaughlin.
The idea solution is to sign a new man for the sticks, a top-quality keeper we can all trust. But then that would be 5 goalies and that’s absolutely ridiculous so it’s not going to happen unless at least one of ours leaves.
So, this is just one that we have to let play out.
It will be what it will be, and while we’d choose Greegsy every day of the week of the two, we’re not the ones making the call.
What we’ll say is this – if we go out of the CL thanks to McLaughlin, ‘we told you so’ won’t be strong enough.