We all love a best XI pub argument. For example, it would be easy to fill a Scottish All-Time Rangers XI or a Foreign XI, in fairness you could probably do a Dutch XI too after the Advocaat era.
This is my All Time Rangers XI, I know you won’t agree, some you might, some you won’t but I have my reasons!
Shape – 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper – Chris Woods
It would be easy to put The Goalie in here but Woods was my first goalkeeping love. Great goalkeepers have an aura, Goram’s was that you had to hit the inside of the post or underside of the crossbar to score whereas Woods’ was his command of the box and physical presence. He was ridiculously reliable. He was everything a great goalkeeper should be and his clean sheet record was proof of that. Additionally, his 43 England caps would have been greater but for the presence of Peter Shilton ahead of him (getting picked before Woods for 2-3 years too many!). He was replaced by Goram purely because of the introduction of the “three foreigner” rule otherwise he could have been the undoubted Rangers number 1.
Right Back – Gary Stevens
The modern full back role that Sky Sports will have you believe was created by Gary Neville and Graeme Le Saux had been around for decades and there was no finer example than Stevens. Rarely beaten by a cross or attacker and consummate positional defender added to an engine that allowed him to support every attack. With 46 England caps he demonstrated his qualities on the highest stage on numerous occasions.
Left Back – Arthur Numan
Almost a mirror image of Gary Stevens, with no discernible weakness to his game but faster and an even greater attacking threat. Numan was also a great leader as we have found out from recent interviews with Barry Ferguson. David Robertson was exceptional for Rangers but Numan could quite easily be one of the clubs greatest ever players.
Centre Half – Richard Gough (Captain)
The perfect centre half. Tall, fast, brilliant in the air and an excellent reader of the game. He organised the whole team and led from the front and by example. Not only this but he led off the park as well believing the key to success was team spirit, with a group of players willing to fight for each other. He has to be my Captain too.
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I could just leave that there. Most teams are lucky if they have one centre half like Gough but to have another in Butcher was incredible. Even in the modern game the only real similarities have been at international level or when Puyol and Pique played together at Barcelona. I’d like to caveat his selection with I am completely ignoring his commentary on Rangers in recent years!
Centre Midfield – Barry Ferguson
Is Fergie a Marmite player? Some Rangers fans still don’t like him. Personally, I thought he was wasted at Rangers in his best years ,he was exceptional. A UEFA Cup Final win would have justified his Rangers career but I always thought he was too good for us. He was the complete midfielder. He could be a deep lying playmaker, go box-to-box or be an attacking midfielder. He could dictate and control a game in a way that Rangers desperately need now. He was also another excellent leader, born from being a winner and expecting all those around him to be the same.
Yes, his best years were behind him when he came to the club as Player/Manager, but what a player he still was. His hard man image ruined his reputation as a beautiful passer of the ball. There is one that sticks in my memory, outside of his foot over a packed defence, dead weight for Davie Cooper to run onto without breaking stride. Imagine a player with his physicality and passing range nowadays, how much would he be worth?
Right Wing – Mark Walters
I genuinely believe Walters is the most underrated player in Rangers’ history. His goal scoring record is better than Brian Laudrup’s and Davie Cooper’s. He was equally as creative and every bit as aesthetically pleasing to watch. He achieved this under the most horrendous personal abuse too which started from his very first game for the club. To be as graceful on some of the pitches he had to play on too was all the more remarkable.
Central Attacking Midfielder – Brian Laudrup
Give him the ball and let him do whatever he wants! Another contender for the greatest foreign player ever to grace these shores. A truly World Class international player who could pick the ball up anywhere on the park and create something from nothing. There wasn’t another Rangers player in my lifetime that put opposition defenders on their backside more than the Great Dane. The Laudrup Final is a contender for the best ever individual performance by a Rangers player, on his day, devastating.
Left Wing – Davie Cooper
What a wand of a left foot. Cooper scored some of the most iconic goals of his generation. The keepy uppy goal v Celtic and the thunderbolt free kick v Aberdeen are amongst the finest scored by a wearer of the famous blue jersey. For Ruud Gullit (who was in his pomp in one of the finest club sides ever – AC Milan) to say Cooper was one of the best players in the world is testament to his abilities.
Striker – Ally McCoist
Had to be. He wouldn’t have to do any running or pressing. Just stay the width of the box and wait for Walters, Cooper or Laudrup to find him. And you know they would eventually. If they didn’t, Souness or Ferguson would! He is the best goal scorer ever to grace Ibrox and his stats speak for themselves. He will always be a club legend in my eyes. If someone ever replaces him as the clubs best ever number 9 they will be some player!
So, my team looks something like this:
Stevens Gough Butcher Numan
Walters Laudrup Cooper
Packed with leaders, pace, power, ability and goals.
You could have a go at your own team but it wouldn’t beat mine!!