A Meeting with the Mechanics

29th September 2012

Scottish Cup Second Round – Forres Mechanics 0 – 1 Rangers

Goalscorer – Kal Naismith

Team Lineup – Neil Alexander, Seb Faure, Ross Perry, Emerson Cribari, Lee Wallace, Anestis Argiriou, Lewis McLeod, Kyle Hutton, Fraser Aird, Kal Naismith, Lee McCulloch

Is it just me or does this seem like a lifetime ago? Almost a parallel universe kind of thing. Granted Rangers had injuries to David Templeton, Dean Shiels, Ian Black and Francisco Sandaza but even still, with hindsight, this must be the worst XI to ever grace the royal blue jersey.

The highlights are still available on YouTube and the BBC and despite a conflicting match report from Jonathon Sutherland (shock), Forres never came close to scoring. It was a horrible game. Loads of running about from both teams but severely lacking in quality.

Should we have been surprised when the team had three veterans in Alexander, McCulloch and Cribari with the massively inexperienced Aird, 17, MacLeod, 18, Perry, 22, Naismith, 20 and Hutton, 21. A look at where some of these players ended up gives an indication as to the quality available to Ally McCoist at the time. Most of them are playing in Scotland’s Championship or lower. Lewis MacLeod is still at Brentford having only played 14 games since 2014/15.

McCoist’s transfer policy at the time was bizarre. Templeton on paper was a bit of a coup having been man of the match for Hearts at Anfield in Europe before signing for Rangers. But he was never fit. Ian Black had been performing well in the SPL consistently for several years and although not necessarily “Rangers quality” there weren’t many better defensive midfielders in the Scottish Leagues. He also had the physicality required for the lower leagues. Yet he failed to control games on a regular basis despite playing supposedly weaker opposition. As for Fran Sandaza and Kevin Kyle………

Cribari, Argiriou and Faure were total panic signings offered by agents to help McCoist fill the squad. Were they any better than the youth players that had stayed? McCoist did have his work cut out, but surely looking at young Scottish players or the British free transfer market would have been more suitable given the level of football Rangers were playing.

I sometimes wonder if other players we had available at the time had played more often how things would’ve turned out. Darren Cole, Barrie McKay, Kane Hemmings, Andy Murdoch, Luca Gasparotto and Liam Kelly have all shown greater potential than the players that were released or sold. Would they have become better players if they had stayed at Rangers and played together, developing as a team with a few more experienced players to help them along the way?

Kyle Hutton is my biggest frustration, he had some truly outstanding performances for Rangers pre-administration and most noticeably in the Champions League at Ibrox v Manchester United. It’s almost like he never recovered from staying with Rangers and was playing with that thought at the back of his mind, thinking about where he had been and what he had experienced. He had gone from marking Paul Scholes out a game to playing against postmen and joiners.

We all know the quality that Lewis MacLeod has but it looks like his career will follow the path of Jamie Ness in that he has all the talent and ability in the world but will never fulfil it because of injury. A fully fit midfield with Ness, MacLeod and Hutton playing their best football would’ve been great to see.

This game almost summed up Rangers return to the top flight. High expectations, opposing team playing out of their skins, horrible to watch! It still frustrates me how Rangers games are reported. Yes, it is Rangers, but it isn’t the Rangers that had Laudrup or Gascoigne, Cooper or McCoist. This was a group of young players thrown together with a group of journeymen. Just because they wore the famous blue jersey, it didn’t make them famous players or even decent players for that matter.

I had a play around and I’ve come up with an alternate Rangers XI for the game, who knows, we’d probably be in the same position we are now but it’s worth looking at where we used to be to appreciate where we are now. If you are ever bored, have a laugh and look at the 2012/13 and 2013/14 squads, anyway here’s my team:

Alternate Rangers XI 4-3-1-2 – Liam Kelly, Darren Cole, Luca Gasparotta, Ross Perry, Lee Wallace, Andy Murdoch, Kyle Hutton, Lewis MacLeod, Barrie McKay, Lee McCulloch, Kane Hemmings

Rangers are still recovering, slowly, much to the obvious annoyance of many commentators. They got a lot of things right, signing the wrong players, not having a decent scouting network etc. However, one thing they did get wrong was that they thought “unless performances improve, you wonder if the novelty of visiting these footballing outposts might soon begin to wane”. If anything, performances got worse, but the fans stayed loyal, breaking attendance records all over the country, year after year and yet no FIFA “Best Fans in the World” nomination…….?

There continues to be a constant barrage of criticism from all angles against Rangers and the management team but you’d have thought by now they’d have worked out what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!