As Rangers fans lick their post Hampden wounds, there’s a feeling that the League Cup Final defeat to Celtic must be recognised as a turning point in the club’s direction.
That familiar sting of defeat to our Old Firm rivals has cut especially deep this time given the lacklustre, uncommitted performances of several in our squad.
Several who, chosen over the much-needed fresh blood, have let us down time and again and for whom a future at Rangers is neither certain nor, in many respects, desired.
Rangers have, time and again, put their faith in a squad of players who have both achieved the seemingly impossible and also broken our hearts time and again.
No one can take away the team’s immense contribution to our club, with 55 a landmark moment in the history of Rangers and this team of players taking us, and themselves, within a penalty kick of immortality.
But they have also collapsed domestically time and again, and amid a devastating injury crisis, earned the club the most unwanted moniker in Champions League history.
That’s why there’s a real clash of emotions in criticising the squad, and whilst I acknowledge I’ve not exactly been shy at tearing in at times, as fans, it is our job. In my case, it is quite literally my job.
I don’t want to be here typing angry, cathartic stories taking aim at Rangers players, or more importantly other human beings, but there is something stubbornly wrong at Ibrox and a growing feeling of hopelessness.
Whilst this team have given us so much, they have also delivered so little, and as Celtic’s revolving transfer door breathes new life into their team and squad, several in ours have regressed.
What’s more, apparently senior players look shattered pulling on our jersey.
Harsh Rangers words must be heard after Celtic defeat
The performances of Glen Kamara and John Lundstram in particular have been poured over a lot but they were quite simply so far below the required standard at Hampden they may as well have been in the Louden.
Rangers have managed the squad so poorly since winning 55 back in 2021 and whilst we might’ve been unable to shift some, others have been reluctantly clinged onto for too long.
Similarly, it’s not the fault of Filip Helander, John Souttar and Kemar Roofe that they’re always injured, at least not to our knowledge, and alongside more recently Ianis Hagi, nor is it their fault they occupy expensive roles in the squad.
But all four have failed to effectively contribute to a season where we’ve slipped even further behind our rivals and if they cannot contribute going forward they have got to leave.
Perhaps we’ve been unlucky that Rabbi Matondo, Ridvan Yilmaz and Tom Lawrence’s debut seasons have also been spent nursing injuries, but at what point does luck become mismanagement?
There are others whose futures are up in the air too, club legends like Allan McGregor and Steven Davis, who have over the last 12 months in particular being to wind down, with decisions to be taken on the futures of Scott Arfield and Ryan Jack.
As talented at Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent are, they have both consistently failed to topple Celtic, and to fork out for both amid that failure is setting ourselves up for a potential fail. There’s a whole body of evidence to suggest it.
To me, the suggestion that this lack of security is helping the team or keeping players on their toes is patronising nonsense and Rangers should not be spinning all these plates going into a league season.
Whilst all of these players have a fondness for Rangers it’s that friendly culture of everything is going to be ok and normalisation of defeat which we quite simply have got to move on from. It is not helping.
Rangers fans may have been harsh in their response to Sunday but their words must not fall on deaf ears and the Ibrox side must now get it right in the summer.
If there’s a chance that the legacy of many of these players is being ignored amid the haze of yet another Cup Final defeat, should we go to the well one more time with them and fail it’s in danger of being torn up.
Rangers not only need a change in personnel but a change in culture, with too many at the club being afforded the opportunity to repeatedly fail in the name of uncertain long-term progress or to take their time in settling.
Meanwhile, the signing of John Souttar is emblematic of the club’s failing transfer strategy.