Ibrox Noise asked a question last night, specifically about Rangers identity, and given Ryan Jack is now the only boyhood Rangers fan in the entire Rangers squad following the exits of Allan McGregor, Scotty Arfield and inevitably Steven Davis, we wondered if that would have an impact on the club as a whole.
For as long as we can remember, there has always been at least two or more ‘Rangers fans’ among the squad, going back to the days of Walter Smith, with the notion that players who are boyhood blue will know a little more what the club is, means, and give fans someone to relate to in the squad.
The responses were very interesting, with a wide range of opinions.
They ranged from regret at the new lack of Rangers blood in the squad, to disinterest in it and only caring if the players were good regardless of allegiance. There was also the notion of guys like Tavernier and Lundstram and Cantwell who ‘get it’ despite not being boyhood supporters.
We can see all sides to this, but Ibrox Noise’s stance is you absolutely 100% need some players and staff at a football club who already have identity and affiliation with it.
There is no question Rangers were only able to sign McGregor, Arfield and Davis because they were already fans – all three of them were above our ‘station’ at the time, and while Steven Gerrard was an attraction, these three were marquee players for us – it would have been very hard, back then, to secure players of that quality if they weren’t fans. It could be argued they were Gerrard’s best three signings, or among them. All three had a gigantic hand in 55.
But at the same time there’s a lot to be said for just good players, period. Look ‘over there’ – they signed half of Asia and Oceania with no affiliation with Celtic at all, and ended up tonking us. But of course they do have a few players in their squad with major affection for their club too.
So club identity helps.
Now, a point made was ‘we’d rather have good players than a bunch of mediocre Rangers fans’ – this automatically made us smile due to the similar automatic assumption that any Rangers fan player would be mediocre.
As we’ve seen from history, the three mentioned in this piece sure were not. And the days of, bless him, Andy Halliday are well behind us – we just don’t sign players that poor anymore. We mean that with no insult Andy, you were great at the time and we love you, but this is a new era where we need better.
But we’re sure there’s plenty of Rangers-supporting great players out there still happy to join up.
So, long story short, we’re on the fence a little. We do need great players, but we also need that blue identity as well.
After all, how many times did Rangers fans relate to and identify with one of our own in the squad, wishing players who are fans themselves the very best and enjoying being able to support more passionately a likeminded soul? Even Kyle Lafferty, despite being a bampot, enjoyed a fair bit of support in his spells here because he’s one of us.
Fans need to have a connection with their club and that applies at all clubs worldwide, not just Rangers.
Quite simply we want the best of both worlds. Too much to ask?