“In war, truth is the first casualty” – Greek tragic dramatist, Aeschylus (525 BC -456 BC).
After yesterday’s humiliating League Cup first round exit to Forfar Athletic, Rangers manager Ally McCoist launched a broadside at former chief executive, majority shareholder and club consultant Charles Green after comments made by the Yorkshireman before the match.
Green, commenting in the Scottish Sun said: “This year is a different year. He [McCoist] has had a pre-season and he has been able to sign players. Ally has got to win the league – and got to win a cup. That’s the stark reality of life.
“Ally is a fantastic guy. He is brilliant with the players, fans and media. But first and foremost, a manager has to win matches and has to win competitions. He knows he has to win the league and, in my opinion, has to win a cup as well. If he doesn’t do that, he has a problem.”
Jump to full-time and post match comments with the media, McCoist laid into the former Rangers chief executive over his comments. Comments that I suspect any fan would say about Rangers this year – that Rangers must win the league and one of the cups.
McCoist speaking to the official Rangers website on Green’s comments, said: “They were a terrible distraction and I found his comments appalling, I really did. Once again, he was reminding our boys who had a serious cup tie in four hours that he thinks they were the worst Rangers team in history. What kind of team talk is that from someone who is supposed to have the club’s best interests at heart?
“He’s fooling nobody. He’s trying to kid the fans on that he’s this, that and the next thing but he’s not interested in Rangers Football Club, not at all.
“I think it’s plain to see his contempt and total lack of respect for my players, the staff at the club, the supporters and Scottish football in general. It’s totally unacceptable.”
Harsh words indeed from McCoist, but it paints a picture of such comments bubbling under the surface for months rather than 24 hours.
However, I do have to point out to McCoist, that he supported Green’s comments of ‘the worst Rangers team ever’ last season.
At the time, Green said: “This is the worst Rangers team you have ever seen. The fans are not happy, the board are not happy and Ally McCoist isn’t happy at that. The responsibility lies with Ally as manager and myself as chief executive. I’m backing him and we are going to get through this. His job’s safe, absolutely.”
Asked about Green’s comments then, McCoist added: “I listened to the interview and he was 100 per cent right in what he was saying. He was trying to give everybody a realistic idea of where we are at the moment and he was spot on.”
So what has changed in the space of four – five months? Well first and foremost Green is not McCoist’s boss – chief executive Craig Mather is. Secondly, maybe just maybe McCoist is not feeling the pressure as Rangers manager.
Season 2011-12 saw Rangers collapse financially on an epic scale and under the management of McCoist, the club threw away a 15 point lead at the top of the then-SPL, before the club went into administration in February. The club’s off the field issues overshadowed what was happening or should I say what wasn’t happening on the pitch under McCoist’s tutelage.
Season 2012-13 saw Rangers start with no pre-season and with a mixed bag of a squad from veterans to journeymen to youth players. They tripped up throughout the season against teams that would be deemed – with all respect – as lesser teams to that of Rangers. Rangers won the league though at a canter, while they were knocked out of all three domestic cups. Again though, McCoist was given the benefit of the doubt, given the club’s off field issues. But there had already been murmurs of discontent, with fans asking if this Rangers legend was really up to the task?
This season, Rangers have signed EIGHT players – none of whom played yesterday, due to the SPFL rule on trialists and the transfer embargo which ends on the 1st September. Despite a near full squad being unavailable, he still had players at his disposal that were more than capable of beating Forfar. The fans are now rounding on the players and the manager, in what I can only describe as one of the most humiliating defeats for Rangers in recent years.
When was the last time a Rangers side was knocked out in the first round of a competition by a part-time side?
So I can only think that McCoist’s outburst and attack on Green was nothing more than a ploy to turn the fans’ attentions away from the display on the park to that of Green’s comments influencing his players.
But wait, players are criticised and are barracked by supporters, by media, by opposition teams all the time and we are told this fires players up. To prove them wrong, Green’s comments should have been rammed down his throat by the players yesterday against Forfar, but all they did was confirm much of what he was saying.
On top of all the weekend hullaballoo, it is being reported by BBC Scotland that chairman Walter Smith is on the brink of quitting his role at the club as infighting continues and his unwillingness to back chief executive Craig Mather over Jim McColl, the man who was behind the consortium that Smith fronted when they unsuccessfully tried to buy the club off Green.However, the main issue that should stick in the back of the throats of Rangers fans is the club’s willingness to censor their manager’s comments post-match. Not only did Andrew Dickson publish McCoist’s statement on the official website, but later on Saturday evening the article was rewritten so as not to look as an attack on the former Rangers chief executive.
Questions must be asked of the club’s hierarchy, the Rangers media department, the author of said article Andrew Dickson and above all that of Head of Communications at Rangers James Traynor.
Why was the article re-written and the manager’s valid comments censored? Who gave the order to rewrite the article? What does the Rangers manager think of the club censuring his comments?
However, these questions can be asked by the media, but at the end of the day the only ones who have a right to demand the answers are the fans. They are the ones that plough their money into the club every season expecting success, expecting value for money and if they do not get this then they are perfectly entitled to demand what is going on.
The first President of the United States of America, George Washington, once remarked: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
This season, should have been all about matters on the field for Rangers, but once again McCoist & co. have to deal with the fall out of further board room strife at the club. But while I agree that Green’s comments were poorly timed and reeked more of grandstanding by the Yorkshireman who loves the sound of his own voice, McCoist’s job is not the board room, his role is as the manager of Rangers football club. Let the politicians and businessmen on the board sort their own mess out, McCoist needs to sort out the mess currently on the pitch.
If results don’t go the way the club want, both in the league and in the cups, will they sack McCoist and his managerial team? Given the information published on the financial aspect of their deals I doubt the Ibrox side could afford to pay the trio off as it could cost around £2 million to oust them from their positions. Money that the club can ill afford to throw away.
Time for McCoist to steer clear of the board room infighting and concentrate solely on football matters, that is what he is being paid for. The past few years must have taken its toll on the Rangers and Scotland legend, but focusing on the game and only that should be a welcome relief for the man, as the boardroom battles must be giving him a migraine of epic proportions.